Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Flood of 1938 (Part 2)

As a follow-up to my last post, here's a photo of the aftermath of the 1938 flood, as it appeared in Atwood (now part of Anaheim). This image comes from the Orange County Archives. I'm also adding some links to other infomation and images relating to the flood.
Articles about the 1938 flood:
Photos of the 1938 flood:


Bulldog 24 said...

In the basement (fruit Celler)and under my small Sears (Kit Home)1920Fullerton bungalow home is silt from the Great Flood of 1938. Brea Canyon Creek, a few blocks away had overflowed that night putting water "porch high" in the neighborhood. There is only one person left on our block that remembers that night as a child.

Anonymous said...

I work for the Orange County Water District and many I know have also assumed that Prado Dam was constructed due to the 1938 flood. However, I was surprised to learn when meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers that it was the 1927 flood that spurred the local community and congress to act to build Prado Dam. As described in chapter 3 of the USACOE's Prado Dam Water Control Manual (, the project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of June 22, 1936, well before the 1938 flood. This makes sense as Prado Dam was completed in 1941 and I doubt the federal government could have moved that fast to design, fund and build the dam.

itsnotaplace said...

Wow... that is new information. I had always heard that Prado was built in response to the 38 flood. But it does sound un-believable that the federal government would move that quickly!

Stephanie said...

The Placentia Public Library recently produced a short documentary about the 1938 flood and its impact on the community of Placentia. It features long time resident, Eddie Castro, who provides eyewitness testimony to the devastation. The DVD is available for purchase or one can borrow it from the library.

On another note, my parents' home on Broadway in Anaheim still contains evidence of those days, as well. My grandparents built the house in fall 1936 (with redwood from the "old" Loara School) and within fourteen months, it was filled with flood water. Interestingly, learning about the "dirt" under my built-in closets - when I was five - was my first encounter with local history that had palpable meaning for me.

ockid said...

The sad thing is that county voters turned down the bonds to build a dam on the Santa Ana River in the late 1920s. A great deal of death and destruction could have been prevented.

Chris Jepsen said...

Although enormous progress has been made in taming the River, we're still not *entirely* out of the woods. There are still some areas of the Santa Ana Valley considered to be very high flood risks by the Army Corps of Engineers. Here's hoping we take care of our remaining flood control needs sooner rather than later.

BTW, thanks for sharing your stories and insights, everyone! Once again, they're much more interesting than my original post.

colony rabble said...

Ooh, I want to talk to bulldog about his Sears house (I have info for you) and Stephanie about her parents house on Broadway.

Cynthia Ward
Architectural Historian
Anaheim Historical Society

Anonymous said...

If Atwood is the neighborhood around Orangethorpe and the railroad tracks between Van Buren and Richfield, I'm pretty sure it is a part of Placentia and not Anaheim.

Anonymous said...

I am from the community of Atwood which is in the City of Placentia today. In our community many of our elders have told the stories over and over of the flood of 38 and the lives lost in that storm. They tell it as if it was yesterday. Some were very young, but still recall taking refuge in the hills of yorba linda and others have passed on to meet their creator. The flood of 38 is our community's history and has been passed on from generation to generation.