The Flood of 1927
How can disasters bring people together?
On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont. As inches of rain fell, water filled rivers and streams. Flooding washed out roads in Mendon and Bethel. Parts of Rochester and Bennington were cut off from other towns. After the storm, neighbors helped each other clean up and rebuild. New roads and bridges replaced damaged ones.
Over 80 years before Irene, another flood caused major damage in Vermont. In November of 1927, it rained hard for three days. The rivers and streams flooded. Water flowed into towns like Waterbury, Stockbridge and Johnson. Eighty-four people died in the flooding. Many bridges and roads were washed away. The flood destroyed many houses and farms.
After the 1927 flood, Vermonters worked together to rebuild the state. Workers in Vermont fixed the roads and built new bridges. They built dams to help control flooding in the future. Vermont towns used money from the state and US government to repair the damage. In January 1928, Governor Weeks announced that Vermont was “ready for business.”
President Calvin Coolidge visited Vermont in 1928. He saw how Vermont had recovered from the flood. He made a famous speech in Bennington. He said “I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery(the view of nature) and invigorating(giving energy and strength) climate, but most of all because of her indomitable(strong, cannot be beaten) people.” He praised “the people of this brave little state of Vermont.”
After the Flood of 1927, Vermonters put up signs to show how high the water rose. In some places, the flood waters in 2011 were higher than in 1927. In other places, dams built after 1927 helped prevent flooding during Tropical Storm Irene.
Did Tropical Storm Irene impact your community? Ask your family, teachers or neighbors if they remember Irene. What about the most recent flooding from July, 2023? Was your own community, or the community of those you know, impacted?
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
Herbert Hoover visited Vermont after the flood in 1927. He said “I have seen Vermont at its worst and Vermonters at their best.” What do you think he meant by this? Could you say the same thing about other disasters?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Read the article Rain, Rain, and Still More Rain from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Watch a silent movie about the 1927 Flood
Listen to the program The Flood of '27 from Green Mountain Chronicles
See photographs and read documents about the flood
Read the article A Forest Army Goes to Work from Green Mountaineer Magazine
Watch the video Waterbury Dam from This Place in History
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "The Flood of 1927." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed December 4, 2023. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/the-flood-of-1927