The 1951 Flood, The Flood of the Century

Ben Hope home in the days after the 1951 Topeka Flood

 

 

 

 


The photo at the left was given to Jack Martin by Dick Parrett, who knew Chris Martin and his sister Bonnie Hope.

Martin cousins were young in 1951 when North Topeka flooded in The Flood of the Century. But those of us who were around at that time remember something of the devestation—particularly by the family of Ben and Bonnie Hope and Bonnie's brother, Chris Martin, and his family. Their homes were badly damaged in the flood. The photo, left, is the Hope home on N.Kansas Ave.
   At the Hope's home, Ben had moved all valuables to the second floor to save them. But the water crested at 18-inches into the upstairs. Hope's double bed, piled with valued posessions, soaked in the water and the added weight caused the bed to fall in. Everything atop the bed, including Grandpa Martin's mandolin, was ruined.
   Water did not raise above the first floor at Chris Martin's home on Quincy, but the main level was badly damaged.
   Property owners did not have flood insurance, so the financial burden of clean up was high.
   Families evacuated North Topeka during high water. Bonnie's family stayed at brother Jack Martin's home in West Topeka temporarily, then moved into a trailer provided them just north of the Topeka Boulevard Bridge.
   Chris's family also stayed with relatives briefly, then moved into the secod level of their home as they worked to restore the ground floor.
   George Martin of Meriden was also affected by the flood. He flew to Allen Airport in Southwest Topeka and stayed at Jack's at night for a short time while working in South Topeka at the Santa Fe office building. He stayed until water receded enough for authorities to reopen the bridges between North and South Topeka.

See Kansas Memory video of the Kaw Valley Flood of '51.

Of course, Kansas is also known for high winds. George Martin lost his home in the 1960 Meriden Tornado. Jack Martin's home in South Topeka was destroyed in the 1966 Topeka Tornado.

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