Ohio River. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
The Ohio River flood of 1937 took place in late January and February 1937. With damage stretching from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois, 1 million were left homeless, with 385 dead and property losses reaching $500 million, further worsened by the fact that it occurred during the Great Depression and just a few years after the Dust Bowl.
The 1937 flood was so unprecedented, civic and industrial groups forced authorities to create a comprehensive plan for flood control. The plan involved reducing Ohio River flood heights by creating more than seventy storage reservoirs. The plan was not fully completed by the Army Corps of Engineers until the early 1940s, but it has drastically reduced flood damages ever since.