National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Republican River Flood of 1935

A Closer Look at

Parks, Nebraska


Back To Map Personal Stories Newspapers Accounts Photos Weather Data

Amount of Rain Measured - N/A

Time Flood Impacted Parks - 5 am river crested

River Depth at Parks - 17 feet

River Width at Parks - 0.41 - 0.47 miles

"At Parks, Nebr., the first rise started at 4:30 a.m. and reached its crest at 7 a.m. Two hours later the river started to fall and by 11 a.m. was back in its banks. At that time the second rise started, and by 1:30 p.m. the river had reached a higher crest than before. This high stage was maintained for several hours, and then the river slowly fell, and by the next day it was back in its banks. As Parks is on low ground, much of the town was flooded and considerable damage was done to buildings, some of them being moved from their foundations." From Follensbee and Spiegel, 1937, pg. 32. 



 Personal Stories from Parks

From High Water Mark


Four-year Old Lois Burke Is Lost as Flood Water Cut Off Family's Retreat

One of the crushing blows that the heartless flood visited upon Parks section was the death of little Lois Burke, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Archie Burke who resided in a dwelling close to the creek near the Horn filling station. When it became apparent that it was impossible to stay in the house, Mr. and Mrs. Burke each took one of the children and with Mr. Burke leading, attempted to reach the Kuhlman store. But the power of the waves was so great that it swept Mr. Burke almost from his feet and 4-year-old Lois was torn from his grasp. He recovered her the first time but in his struggle with the waves, she was torn from his grasp the second time and despite everything that he could do, he could not recover her again before she went over the bridge. For hours he searched, hoped and prayed but it was of no avail. The child was lost. When he was rescued from the bridge he was wedged against it with his legs and arms wrapped around the banister. In the meantime and for the same length of time Mrs. Burke was clinging on to a gasoline pump near the filling station with one had and fighting to save the baby she held in the other. It was a brave fight, a gallant fight on the part of the parents to save their children but one in which the odds were desperately arrayed against them and how tenderly indeed does the sympathy of the community go out to them in their hour of irreparable loss and deep sorrow. While their grief is crushing, they still gave everything they had to save their loved one and their efforts were heroic, even though they failed. Although the search has continued almost constantly during the daylight hours since the tradgedy, the body has not yet been recovered.

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 Newspaper Articles from Parks

From High Water Mark

Parks Hardest Hit Town in Dundy County Flood Area. Baby Burke is Flood Victim

Flood Waters Covered Town Almost Before Any One Realized it and Heroic Measures Alone Saved Many Likes. False Report of Rock Creak Dam


With night watchman Harry Martin on the bear all night Thursday and various persons remaining up until late, the coming of the flood was not as great a surprise to Benkelman folks as it was to Parks which suffered the loss of one life and the greatest actual property damage of any town in the county. But had it now been for the presence of mind of Merle Standish and his men, the death loss might have mounted into dozens of lives. Awakened by the road of the approaching flood waters at near two o'clock Friday morning, Mr. Standish aroused the family and all of the ranch help. He sent the men on horse back to cut pasture fences and then came to Parks. He loaded his family in a wagon and drove to the lake where he got a boat and then headed for Parks, awakening many from their slumbers and organized a rescue program. Sixteen men- eight at each end of the boat-wading in water almost shoulder deep, fought their way from house to house, rescuing family after family. It was a gigantic struggle between man and elements as they fought to retain control of the boat while waves plunged hither and thither, trying every fiber of their endurance in retaining its human cargo. This rescue work continued until every citizen, save the four-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Archie Burke had been rescued. When the work was finished, and even before, houses began to move from their foundations down stream. It is doubtful if any town in  the flood are had graver possibilities for almost complete extinction of human life than did Parks and few towns suffered smaller causalities. But it was a gigantic test of both human endurance and human courage and Parks manhood qualified one hundred percent. Although the town was practically homeless Friday night, the fine spirit of courage and self reliance that had characterized the lives of the early pioneer, parents and relatives of many of these same people lived again and although they had no place to lay their heads at night, few showed signs of weakening or being afraid of the future or what it had to offer them. Some when to farm homes north of town to spend the night and many were brought to Benkelman but bight and early Saturday morning they were back on the job to begin the work of reconstruction. Being the hard hit by the flood waters, Parks likewise has one of the most dangerous health problems to meet. Every effort is being made to flight a probable typhoid fever epidemic which may follow the town's water supply. An army airplane bought a supply of chloride of lime from North Platte Monday and this is being distributed for use in treating the water supply. Doctor Premer has requisitioned typhoid serum thru government channels and as soon as a sufficient supply is received is it planned to inoculate every person in the district so far as it is possible. The same system will be followed in other flood districts. In the meantime doctors are warning people of the typhoid danger and asking them to thoroughly boil every drop of water for human consumption.

When rescue parties reached Parks early Saturday morning, fearful of what they might be forced to view in the form of loss of life, relieved indeed were their minds when they found that Parks folks had met their problem so efficiently and that there was nothing that could be done to improve conditions in that respect. With the fine community building almost ready to leave its mooring, residences floating and the school house the only safe spot of refuge, it was a sickening and desolate sight at best. Parks folks and people surrounding the town and volunteers from Benkelman have since been busy in the hope of reestablishing order to some extent at least. But in the Parks section, as in the entire flood area, many years will elapse before the results of the work of this unprecedented condition have entirely disappeared from view. There is scarcely any way to accurately estimate the property damage alone that was inflicted upon the Republican valley district. It extended from the sources of both the North and South Forks of the Republican rivers in Colorado to their tributaries and the entire valley was completely flooded from Colorado to Kansas City.

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 Photos from the Area


Satellite view of Parks and surrounding area.

Terrain view of Parks and surrounding area.


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 Cooperative Weather Data


River Flow Graphs

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