Fred Hutchinson James Delmage Ross Dixy Lee Ray George W. Bush Hazel Wolf Henry M Jackson Warren G. Magnuson Home
Search Encyclopedia
Facebook
Advanced Search
Donate Now! Book Store Featured Eassy Sponsor of the Week
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
6770 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donate Subscribe

Shortcuts

Libraries
Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search

Features

Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Everett
Olympia
Seattle
Spokane
Tacoma
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Severe flood occurs in the Green River Valley beginning on December 11, 1946.

HistoryLink.org Essay 3574 : Printer-Friendly Format

On December 11, 1946, rising flood waters cause hundreds of families near Kent to leave their homes, and dairymen to move their herds from valley pastures to higher ground. The disaster renews discussions of a flood control dam needed high upstream on the Green River.

Until the 1960s, floods in the Green and White River valleys were common occurrences, almost always happening in the months of November or December. It is during this time of year that a warm Chinook wind from the north is likely to melt heavy snowfall in the mountains and also to cause heavy rain.

The 1946 flood was larger than most, causing the river to rise over its banks and to spread throughout the flat valley. Warnings were issued during the afternoon of December 11, but the river didn’t spill over until 8:00 p.m. Ranking officers of the state patrol, the army and navy, and the sheriff’s office rushed to Kent to prepare for evacuation.

Ducks to the Rescue

The army brought 13 amphibious trucks, known as “ducks,” a familiar emergency conveyance for valley residents. The Red Cross organized cots and blankets, and throughout the flood, the second floor of the Kent City Hall became a temporary home for more than 100 men, women, and children. Other families were taken in by neighbors who lived on higher ground.

A 24-hour-a-day canteen was set up in St. James Episcopal Church, and for the next five days, 3,000 meals were served to evacuees, soldiers, police officers, and local volunteers. Snacks were prepared around the clock.

Flood waters hit their peak Thursday morning, but it took weeks for the water to go down. For a time, downtown Kent was a lake. Some businesses were able to keep most of the water out with sandbags and pumps, but many suffered from damaged property and merchandise.

Back to the Dam Drawing Board

In the 1930s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surveyed the flood problem of the valley, and intended to build a dam a few miles upstream from Auburn. This was opposed by fishing interests, due to the damage a dam would cause to spawning fish. The Army would have gone back to the drawing board, but World War II intervened.

Following the 1946 flood, the army engineers were brought back in for consultation. They recommended construction of a storage dam at Eagle Gorge, far to the east into the Cascade Mountains. Congress adopted the Eagle Gorge Dam as a federal project in 1950, and advanced planning continued throughout most of the decade.

The dam was formally dedicated as Howard A. Hanson Dam in 1962, named for Seattle attorney and state legislator Howard A. Hanson (d. 1957), who campaigned long and hard for the project. The dam brought an end to major flooding in the Green River Valley.

Sources:
“Entire Community Assists in Worst Flood in 13 Years,” Kent News Journal , December 19, 1946, pp. 1, 8; “Flood Condition Worst in 13 Years,” Auburn Globe-News , December 11, 1946, p. 1; “Flood Control Dam Favored by Engineers,” Auburn Globe-News, December 25, 1946, p. 1; “Howard A. Hanson Dam, End to Flood Threats; Provides Other Benefits to Valley,” Kent News-Journal, May 9, 1962, pp. B6-7;


Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Infrastructure | Environment | Weather | Washington Rivers |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You


This essay made possible by:
Rivers In Time Project:
King County Landmarks & Heritage Commission


Flood at Earlington Flats, Renton, December 1946
Courtesy Renton Historical Society (Image 87)


 
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org