Unfortunately, that day's record as "worst ever flood" was short lived, and a month and a half later, on February 21st, the Creek's waters rose up and threatened the camp again, this time a full foot deeper than January's flood. Extensive work by the university students and the Pullman townspeople resulted in an even larger dike, and once again the trailer court's residents escaped the worst of the flooding.
Four days later, on February 25th, 1948, the river rose again in a flood deeper than either of the two of the previous months, and again the students and townspeople met it with sandbags. About 5:00 AM on the morning of the 26th, however, the dikes broke at the upper dam in two places, and the trapped waters rushed downstream, instantly inundating the camp and trapping its occupants, may of whom were home and sleeping. The following day's "Evergreen" recounts that "a human chain was formed across a narrow crossing (waist deep) and the victims passed along and out to safety." Many of the residents were incapable of fighting the current, and had to be carried out on the shoulders of volunteers. On her notations on photos donated to the University Archives, Marjorie (Schmid) Kee recalls having been asleep in her and her husband's trailer when the dikes broke, and having to swim to the railroad embankment where volunteers were able to pull her from the waters. In the "Evergreen," student Joe Sobello reports that he'd just evacuated himself, his wife, and their two year old son when the dike broke, and he witnessed his home wash away, hit another trailer, and break into pieces. Loyd Bury, owner of the trailer camp area, reflected "it is a miracle no lives were lost. If it had not been that we had a group of war trained veterans, there must surely have been a loss of life."
WSU's Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections' digital collections contain many more photographs from the 1948 floods.
Contributed by University Archivist Mark O'English, February, 2009.
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