The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 05, 2021 1:00 am

July 16, 1947: Flash flooding in city

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

On July 16, 1947, hard rain dumped more than an inch of rain on the area in a three-hour period. causing flash flooding throughout the city.

Flooded intersections and underpasses slowed traffic, and cars trying to make it through flooded areas stalled.

Though the rain and flash floods were a struggle for some adults, kids seen in Journal Gazette photos the next morning got some joy splashing through the water.

The original 1947 story appears below.

To suggest a date or subject for History Journal, email Corey McMaken at


“Flash Flood Hits City, Area” (July 17, 1947)

A rain considered one of the hardest in the area's history cascaded one and ten hundredths inches of water onto the ground within a three-hour period Wednesday.

Most of the water fell, however, during a cloudburst between 3 and 4 o'clock. The rain was so intense throughout most of Fort Wayne that traffic struggled along and edged itself around stalled cars or flooded intersections.

The storm also unleashed a violent display of lightning. Bolts of electricity crashed at regular intervals during the heaviest part of the storm and four of them found their mark to cause a small amount of damage.

The downpour again flooded many of the street underpasses paralyzing traffic there and at various intersections.

Street Department workers blockaded underpasses at Clinton, Lafayette and Hanna Streets. Most of the rest were temporarily flooded but traffic crawled slowly through them.

Residents in all sections of the city reported basements were flooded when water backed up from sewers or when it seeped in from the outer walls.

The lightning struck three times within eight minutes just shortly after 3 pm. The first bolt at 3:03 o'clock struck the home of Lucy Bollinger, 1326 Lillie Street, causing a small amount of damage.

Seven minutes later lightning hit the home of Nile W. Hawk of East Leith Street, but caused no harm. Within a minute after this flash, another bolt crashed into an ISC trolley wire arrester at Warsaw and Pontiac Streets, knocking the trolley wires to the ground.

At 4:25 p.m. the belfry of a church at Wayne and Francis Streets was struck. The bolt knocked several pieces of cement loose in the belfry and firemen were called to remove other dislodged pieces.

C.V. Kimmell, county agent, said that yesterday's rain coupled with the one last Monday would not harm the crops in the area unless the low ground continued to remain wet.

Generally, the rain was good for the crops, he said, adding that the accompanying wind was not strong enough to do much damage to standing grain.

The downpour covered most of Northern Indiana, according to the State Police at Ligonier.


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