Elba, AL Flood, Mar 1929 - The Worst Flood
The worst flood ever recorded, at that time, in the state of Alabama took place in Elba in March of 1929. Much has been written and told about this great flood and all of those who were a part of the flood had their own story to tell. On Thursday morning, March 14, 1929 the people were warned that the river was coming out of its banks and would spread into the town. By lunch time, people were being taken from downtown and the immediate river area by boats. The water continued to rise, making it the most horrible night that the citizens had ever experienced. The next morning airplanes carrying food, milk, and emergency supplies flew over the town and dropped the much needed supplies. The flood edition of the Montgomery Advertiser was dropped to upstairs porches and to people on rooftops. The river crested at 43.50 feet early in the afternoon of March 15, 1929.
The story of "Little Noah Tucker" is one of the most often remembered and retold. Eleanor Talbot Tucker and her husband Ed Tucker became the parents of Noah at the Elba Hotel during the flood. The mother had to be moved from room to room during the birthing because room after room crumbled and fell into the swift water currents. The baby was named Noah since he lived through the flood like the biblical Noah.
Only one fatality occurred as a result of the 1929 flood, a blind Negro man named "Phoe" Larkins was swept from a box car in New Town.
The heroic efforts of Miss Vivian Harper were very significant during the tragic flood. As flood waters continued to rise, Miss Harper and her relief operator, Mrs. Minola Libert, were on duty and stayed in touch with local residents until every telephone had failed. Miss Harper warned the citizens of Geneva about the flood and enabled them to be better prepared for the coming flood. She also contacted telephone operators in neighboring towns and relief came much sooner because of her efforts and dedication to the people of Elba. As the water came into the building the two operators escaped into a waiting boat. Miss Harper received the Theodore N. Vail Silver Medal for her heroism. In the summer of 1929 the flood weary citizens of Elba were once again faced with the threat of the river flooding. The temporary bridge was safe only for foot traffic as the swift current raged. Paul Rowe Brunson left the family home next to the river when the mail arrived from Ozark. The six year old boy was taking the mail across the river when the bridge collapsed. The child fell into the river but said God took him by the hand and pulled him onto a section of the floating bridge. Holding the mailbag, the child floated down Pea River. The train was crossing the trestle and Mr. Byrd Mitchell, the engineer, lowered a rescue line. At the same time a rescue boat carrying an older brother, Sollie, over took and rescue the child, still holding the mailbag. The mail went through and Paul Rowe Brunson was spared to become one of Elba's distinguished citizens.
Wikipedia: Elba, Alabama