National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Indianola, Nebraska


Back To Map Personal Stories Newspapers Accounts Photos Weather Data

Amount of Rain Measured -

Time Flood Impacted Indianola-

River Crest at Indianola-

River Width at Indianola-


 Personal Stories from Indianola

Excerpt from Swept Away

from an account by Beulah Puckett:

We lived just west of Indianola. We looked out the window at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 31, 1935. Water was coming across west and a little north…We had never seen anything like it before. I went out with the others to watch the water…The bridge had gone out and the telephone poles and wires, too. We were without telephone contact with the outside world for two months…The bridge was not rebuilt…The day after the flood, the airplanes started flying over. They were Army planes to help rescue people from trees, houses, etc. The current was so swift no boat was safe…Several big holes were washed in places around our farm. Water stood in them all summer. There were fish in them, too. There was so much quick sand around we were afraid to do much scouting around.

From High Water Mark:

Mr. and Mrs. George Wing and Alvy and Lulu and Fred Ray spent most of the time from five o’clock Friday evening until one-thirty or two o’clock Saturday in some big trees just east of where their house stood.

When the water began rising they hitched up a team and prepared to drive to town but heard that I was impossible for them to get past the Coon Creek flood. So they went back into the house again and as the water came up they retreated upstairs.

Fred Ray who had been helping get Jimmy Malleck’s cattle out, rode over there. Mr. Wing said they could see Fred and his horse go completely out of sight be he made it safely. However, it was then too late to get back with the Wing family and he stayed with them. He had been up since two o’clock warning people about the canyon and Coon Creek waters but he kept on through the night doing what he could. Fred is a hero in the estimation of the Wing family, and that opinion is also held by countless other people who knew of his efforts.

It finally became apparent that the house would not survive the shock of the raging waters. It moved off the foundations and up against some trees just east. The family went out of the upstairs window onto the roof of the porch and from there to the trees. Fred Ray caught some wreckage that floated past and mad a seat for the women. George however stood in a crotch of a tree for about twenty-one hours. For a time, he kept a foot on the edge of the porch and could feel it tremble. It finally collapsed entirely and the broken pieces floated away.

Saturday morning after the water began going down several boys made another attempt to reach the trees but were turned back. After awhile two boys went out as far as they could until they could see the family was in the trees. They signaled the shore and Paul Malleck, Charles King, Homer Duckworth and Merle Colling took the boat and made an attempt. They succeeded in taking the family and Fred Ray off and began the trip back to shore. Part of the way the current almost took the boat away from them but they eventually landed near the Ferree place with all hands safe. These four men deserve the highest commendation for their bravery and skill. Not soon will the crowd who watched them battle the current forget what they did…The Wings are now with his brother Harry and family, until they are able to get a place of their own. Mr. Wing said all of his horses, but one had been found safe and he had found five of his cows. All of the other personal property is probably gone forever. The farm is now a part of Finnell’s island and a river bed.

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 Newspaper Articles from Indianola

The Indianola Reporter, Indianola, Red Willow County, Nebraska, June 6, 1935

Worst Flood in History of Indianola Friday

Only the very oldest settlers of Indianola can recall a flood that equaled the flood which began Friday, and even they cannot recall one in which there was greater loss of property. A rain of more than two inches Thursday night, or perhaps early Friday morning, with a hard hail storm began the rise of waters which threatened the town. Coon Creek rose to the highest point of its history and spread over all of south Indianola. The bridge over the creek, however, remained in place. People were not greatly alarmed Friday morning but were interested in the flood…A little later in the morning the river kept rising so fast that Mr. and Mrs. James Malleck moved out. The river kept coming toward town and Mr. Nelms decided to move out and went back to get some stock. He got back as far as Rawson’s yard when the horses went into a deep hole and one of the drowned. He was marooned until he was later reached by a rescue party…As the morning wore on it was discovered that everybody ion the south part of town had been moved out except the George Wing family. Fred Ray was with them…They had not thought themselves in any danger until the water was so deep they could not get out…So Fred was marooned with them and stayed with them until they were all rescued the next day…Many people stayed up all night watching the river. Coon Creek had begun to recede and was no longer dangerous. About four o’clock Friday the sky became as dark as night and the air was heavy with dust. This condition lasted for about an hour and it began to get lighter. The next day we heard of a tornado about fourteen miles northwest of here, in which three people were killed and a number of other people injured.

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 Photos from the Area


From the McCook Daily Gazette from a story as remembered by Ruth Guthrie Chappel (the small child in the photo held by her sister Leah) :

Lee and Lottie Guthrie with their family of eight children lived south of Indianola which was known as the River Bottom. The day of the flood the oldest son Carl wasn’t home. He was away at C.C. Camp. “When Lee and Lottie were told the water was coming, they gathered up their seven children, clothing, blankets, and food, loaded them in a farm wagon drawn by a team of horses Lee had and went to Grandma Minnie Bonars home ( a 3-room house) in uptown Indianola. Except for themselves, the children, horses, and wagon, the Guthries lost everything to the flood – even Lottie’s gold wedding band. She was baking bread that day and took her ring off, laid it up on the kitchen window sill, in the rush of getting the family to higher ground, she gave no thought to check to see if she had her ring on. When Carl got word of the flood he had a friend take him home. When he went to where the house once stood and found only the foundation and pump he was overtaken with grief. You can imagine his happiness when he went to his Grandma Bonars and found his family safe!



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 Cooperative Weather Data


River Flow Graphs

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