Martin Varner 1937 Flood Reminiscences

Interview with Martin Varner on January 30, 1987. Varner, a New Albany native, discusses his experiences and role during the 1937 flood and cleanup efforts. Varner also recalls how the rain “poured” for twenty-one days and nights and how this flood was worse than previous ones. Varner recounts how he and his fellow workers rarely had any dry clothing or a hot meal, although he was appreciative of his subsequent paycheck. Varner assisted in sandbagging the hospital against the flood and waking up senior citizens and relocating them to safety. Varner further recalls how his wife and family were relocated to a taller building for safety, and how the new furniture he had purchased was destroyed by the flood, leaving his family with only a small amount of clothing and a Model T Ford, while others took advantage of the flood. Lastly, Varner postulates on the likelihood of another devastating flood and preventive safety measures. 

Gladys Sturgeon on the 1937 Flood

Gladys Sturgeon, a New Albany native, was interviewed by Eugenia Mock in 1987 about her experience during the 1937 flood. Sturgeon recalls how her family worked for a local food store chain based out of Louisville that, when flooded, totally cut her and the rest of her family off while the flood ensued. She describes the role that the National Guard played in assisting with evacuation and rescue efforts. Most New Albany residents were given a fair amount of warning by the National Guard about the oncoming flood and they drove their cars out of town to take refuge in the nearby towns that were on higher ground. Train companies even transported others by boxcar to communities such as Borden and Seymour to provide New Albany flood refugees with shelter. Those few who stayed (which included, for the most part, the elderly), were forced to have to take refuge on the upper levels of their homes just to be clear of the floodwaters. Sturgeon also recalls how looting was a problem because of how desperate people we for food during the great flood. To those who needed it, the Red Cross offered basic rations to the displaced, as well as Typhoid shots.. When asked whether she thought that there was any good effect upon the community from the Flood, Sturgeon denies any such thing. The community was temporarily scattered during the flood, and those who remained had to deal with the damaging effects of the flood upon their homes and hometown.