90 years since ‘Great Flood of 1927’
Growing up in North Little Rock, and later as head of the city’s History Commission, Sandra Taylor-Smith has heard and studied many tales about the “Great Flood of 1927” that spilled Arkansas River waters into the city’s downtown and low-lying neighborhoods.
The city was one of many hit by that year’s flooding, which ultimately affected 36 Arkansas counties, covered 2 million acres of the state’s farmland, and was later labeled by the National Weather Service as Arkansas’ top 20th-century weather disaster.
“It hit here on Easter Sunday,” which was April 17, Taylor-Smith said in an interview ahead of the flood’s 90th anniversary. “Growing up here, you’d hear stories from the elder people who talked about the 1927 flood. A lot of people had very vivid memories of that flood.”
The disaster led to the Flood Control Act of 1928, which strengthened flood-prevention efforts along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The flood also had social and political ramifications, and led to a dramatic population shift among blacks, who left the Delta for northern cities.
It was the most devastating flood on record for the Mississippi River Valley. It affected seven states, but the worst destruction was in Arkansas, according to several historical accounts.