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December 20, 2023

20 Historical Photos From the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927

The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, flooding of the lower Mississippi River valley in April 1927, was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) inundated in depths of up to 30 feet (9 m) over the course of several months in early 1927. The period cost of the damage has been estimated to be between $246 million and $1 billion, which ranges from $4.2–$17.3 billion in 2023 dollars.

About 500 people died and over 630,000 people were directly affected; 94% of those affected lived in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, especially in the Mississippi Delta region. 127 people died in Arkansas, making it one of the deadliest disasters ever recorded in the state. More than 200,000 African Americans were displaced from their homes along the Lower Mississippi River and had to live for lengthy periods in relief camps. As a result of this disruption, many joined the Great Migration from the South to the industrial cities of the North and the Midwest; the migrants preferred to move, rather than return to rural agricultural labor.

To prevent future floods, the federal government built the world’s longest system of levees and floodways. Then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover’s handling of the crisis gave him a positive nationwide reputation, helping pave the way to his election as U.S. President in 1928. Political turmoil from the disaster at the state level aided the election of Huey Long as governor in Louisiana.


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