The National Weather Service will unveil two high water mark signs commemorating the historic April 1945 flood in Jefferson, Texas, on Tuesday September 22, at 11 a.m. One of the signs will be installed on the front of Henderson’s Auto Parts Store at 218 Polk Street. A second sign will be installed on the Jefferson Jimplecute building at 205 West Austin Street. This historic ceremony will be held at Henderson’s Auto Parts Store, and the public is welcome to attend.
Armando Garza, Meteorologist In Charge of the Shreveport Weather Forecast Office said, “The High Water Mark sign at Jefferson is the first such sign in the State of Texas. We live in an area where heavy rainfall can cause havoc and flooding is still a very real threat to our communities.”
Other signs are planned in south and central Texas in early 2010. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Shreveport will also work to plan additional installations over north Louisiana next year. The signs not only document major historical floods, but more importantly convey the potential impact that floods have had and could have again on communities. Floods are one of the most deadly and most costly natural disasters, and more people lose their lives in floods than due to lightning or tornadoes. The signs are a good reminder to maintain our vigilance and evaluate our preparedness for floods.
The peak of Jefferson’s record flood occurred on April 2, 1945 when the Big Cypress Bayou rose to a stage of 30 feet, inundating parts of the town with more than five feet of water. This flood led to the United States Congress passing the Flood Control Act of 1946. This piece of legislation eventually established the many flood control reservoirs in the Red River Valley across Northeast Texas, including Lake O’ the Pines a few miles upstream of Jefferson. The flood also caused the city to abandon the developed areas on the south bank of the river.
The National Weather Service office in Shreveport, the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (LMRFC), the Marion County Historical Commission, and Jefferson City Officials cooperated on this project. The LMRFC creates forecast guidance of river levels and flows for over 200 points in the southern U.S. including the Big Cypress Bayou at Jefferson. The National Weather Service used US Army Corps of Engineers and US Geological Survey data since they maintain a real-time hydrologic monitoring network of stage, streamflow, and rainfall gages that are a crucial component of the NWS’s river forecast and flood warning programs.