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Allen County, Indiana Genealogy
1982 Flood in Fort Wayne, Allen County, Indiana
See our Timeline for more 1982 information. See the Floods section of our Rivers page for other Fort Wayne floods.
has several sandbag photos from Tsgt David Craft with similar labels:
- A1C Robert Spence from the Clinical Material Section at Grissom Air Force Base checks a sandbag reinforced dike for leaks after a recent flood
- A1C Robert Spence, from the Clinical Material Section at Grissom Air Force Base, checks one of the buildings at the Pemberton dike, which was reinforced with sandbags after a recent flood
- Raymond Rodrigez, a city worker, and CPT Stan Norris of the 70th Aerial Refueling Squadron (70th ARS) Grissom Air Force Base, refuel one of the many water pumps used to pump water from area streets and homes after recent flood
- Volunteers from the Air National Guard and Grissom Air Force Base join together in patrolling an eight-mile dike for leaks, after a recent flood
- Members of the Indiana Air National Guard participate in emergency operations after recent flooding
- Members of the Indiana Air National Guard participate in emergency operations after recent flooding
- A1C Robert Spence and CPT McDee, from the Clinical Material Section at Grissom Air Force Base, check a sandbag reinforced dike for leaks after a recent flood
- A1C Robert Spence, from the Clinical Material Section at Grissom Air Force Base, checks a sandbag reinforced dike for leaks after a recent flood
March 16, 2019 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On March 16, 1982, President Ronald Reagan visited Fort Wayne to meet with flood victims and observe relief efforts. According to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, the flood caused approximately 9,000 residents to flee their homes and resulted in about $56 million in damages. Reportedly, the intensive efforts of volunteer sandbaggers earned Fort Wayne the moniker "The City That Saved Itself."
See a video of Reagan’s visit here [shown below]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n7cidNWD0Q
The image below, showing Preside Reagan helping carry sandbags during this visit, is courtesy of the National Archives.
March 16, 2022 post by Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On March 16, 1982, President Ronald Reagan visited Fort Wayne to meet with flood victims and observe relief efforts. According to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, the flood caused approximately 9,000 residents to flee their homes and resulted in about $56 million in damages.
Reportedly, the intensive efforts of volunteer sandbaggers earned Fort Wayne the moniker "The City That Saved Itself."
See footage from President Reagan’s visit here: https://bit.ly/3sWJ7J5 [Video is below]
The image below is courtesy of the Indiana Archives collections.
March 16, 2023 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
#OTD in 1982, President Ronald Reagan visited Fort Wayne to meet with flood victims and observe relief efforts. According to the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, the flood caused approximately 9,000 residents to flee their homes and resulted in about $56 million in damages. Reportedly, the intensive efforts of volunteer sandbaggers earned Fort Wayne the moniker "The City That Saved Itself."
See more of his visit in a video from the Reagan Presidential Library.
Video is above this post
February 18, 2013 post by Downtown Fort Wayne on Facebook:
We hope you all enjoyed Presidents Day today!
Do any of you remember when President Reagan visited our flooded city on March 16, 1982 and helped volunteer with sandbagging?
About 3,800 people were homeless in Fort Wayne prompting Reagan to state that the situation "would have been far worse if it had not been for volunteers." He soon granted federal assistance to the area.
Read more: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/...
May 29, 2013 post on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook:
On March 16, 1982 President Reagan came to Fort Wayne to witness that spring's terrible flooding. Just moments before his plane landed, this funnel cloud was spotted at the airport.
April 28, 2016 post by former Mayor Win Moses on Facebook:
TBT .... A rainy day in March, 1982
Inside of Air Force One, Baer Field Airport
President Ronald Reagan, Chief of Staff James Baker, myself, and Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes
President Reagan had come to Fort Wayne to encourage the 11,000 high school students who were filling sand bags to continue to fight the flood of 1982. They eventually stacked over 1 million sand bags and saved most of North Fort Wayne from flooding.
This was a time when Presidents, Governors and Mayors worked closely together to protect our citizens. The following year, 1983, President Reagan, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, awarded Fort Wayne its first All America City designation.
And the high school students in the "Children's Crusade" have gone on to be the doctors, lawyers, nurses, principals, teachers, carpenters, plumbers, architects, electricians, car technicians, and every other profession in Fort Wayne. And they are still doing a great job for our city!
From a April 28, 2016 post on You know you've lived in Fort Wayne too long when... on Facebook.
- President Reagan, having helped stack the sandbags in Ft.... published March 20, 1982 on the UPI ARCHIVES.
- March 30, 1982 -
Paul Harvey visited Fort Wayne after the massive Flood of 1982. The next day, he shared his thoughts on the spirit of Fort Wayne on his national noontime broadcast. That evening, Robb Westaby re-broadcast the segment. Aircheck courtesy of Chris Witting.Listen to 5 minute audio from the History of WOWO Airchecks page.
- June 3, 1982 - the City of Fort Wayne mailed a letter to the sandbaggers inviting them to the July 3 Fort Wayne Flood Fest 82. A copy was posted June 3, 2018 as well as many other Flood of 1982 photos on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook.
June 3, 1982 letter
- July 3, 1982 - Seymour, Indiana rock singer John Mellencamp plays free Fort Wayne Flood Fest '82 for 20,000 Fort Wayne flood sandbagging volunteers. Radio station WMEE-FM promoted the concert with the city.
- Flood where Fort Wayne became The City That Saved Itself: Fort Wayne and the Great Flood Of 1982 - a 48 page book by Jon Swerens in 2007.
- Flood brought out our best by Shannon Lohrmann and Carol Tannehill in the archives of The News-Sentinel newspaper.
- The News-Sentinel's Flood of 1982 Front Pages - These are images of front pages that appeared in The News-Sentinel during the Flood of 1982. Click on the individual pages to see a readable pdf.
March 12, 1982
March 13, 1982
March 15, 1982
March 16, 1982
March 17, 1982
March 18, 1982
March 19, 1982
March 20, 1982
- Dozens of photos in the Photo gallery: The Flood of 1982 at The News-Sentinel newspaper. Description:
For a week in March 1982, the nation's eyes were focused on Fort Wayne when a major flood, the likes of which the city had seen only once before, tore through its heart. Heavy winter snow accumulations, a rapid early-March thaw, and rain combined to cause the flooding. When it was over, about 9,000 people had fled their homes. Damage reached $56.1 million. Heroic rescue efforts and a massive group of volunteer sandbaggers led to Fort Wayne becoming known as The City That Saved Itself.
- 1982 Flood photos in the Allen County Public Library Digital Collections at the Allen County Public Library.
- Historic March floods of 1982 and 100th anniversary of March 26, 1913 flood that left 20% of the city homeless in The City That Saved Itself--TWICE! March 6, 2013 by Nancy McCammon-Hansen on History Center Notes & Queries blog.
Frozen ground buried under deep snowpack conspired with freakishly early spring weather. On March 11th 1982 heavy rains began to fall and temperatures spiked to 45 degrees, and Fort Wayne’s rivers began to rise. Two days later thunderstorms dropped another inch of rain pushing the waters of the St. Mary’s river over its dikes, sending flood waters surging through the Nebraska neighborhood. 3000 residents fled their homes.from 30th Anniversary of the Great Flood of 1982: Where were you? with video by Eric Olson, 21Country Featured Reporter now on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
- IN FORT WAYNE, A STRAIN ON FLOOD DIKES AND PEOPLE by Iver Peterson published March 18, 1982 in The New York Times.
- APRIL 19, 1983 Fort Wayne News-Sentinel editors and reporters were speechless --... FORT WAYNE, Ind. --
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel editors and reporters were speechless -- but delighted -- upon learning the newspaper had won the Pulitzer Prize in general local reporting for coverage of last spring's record floods. 'We had kind of suspected we have been among the finalists, but we didn't know,' executive editor Stewart Spencer said Monday. 'We read it on the wire with everyone else.'from UPi.com/Archives.
General Local Reporting The News-Sentinel When Fort Wayne, Ind., was flooded in March last year, The News-Sentinel, with four photographers and nine city desk reporters, responded with front-page stories for six days, 96 smaller stories and 111 photographs. In the early days of the flood, the newspaper published information on road closings, emergency telephone numbers, utility shutoffs and food spoilage. With the waters receding, the newspaper followed up with a 24-page special section about plans to prevent future flooding and polled residents about how public officials and others had handled the emergency.April 19, 1983, Section B, Page 4 SKETCHES OF PULITZER PRIZE WINNERS; Public Service in The New York Times.
- The 1983 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Local General or Spot News Reporting For a distinguished example of general or spot news reporting within a newspaper's local area of circulation, preferably by an individual, giving consideration to alertness, resourcefulness and high quality of writing, One thousand dollars ($1,000). Editorial Staff of Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel For its courageous and resourceful coverage of a devastating flood in March 1982 at The Pulitizer Prizes.org.
- Commentary: A flood of teamwork and lessons learned earned Pulitzer for The News-Sentinel, October 7, 2017, Kevin Leininger, The News-Sentinel newspaper.
January 12, 2013 post on the original Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana page on Facebook:
Volunteer sandbaggers received t-shirts with logo Flood of 1982 Survivor Port Wayne
The Water - Moses Couldn't Partin reference to Mayor Win Moses.
- 6. Description of the 1982 Flooding in Fort Wayne Indiana with photos from NOAA.
General Motors executives had been impressed by the community spirit apparent in national news stories telling how the city had met the flood head-on without so much as a whimper. Fort Wayne was a city, seemingly, where nobody waited around for some official to file the appropriate disaster-relief documents. There was a Reader’s Digest article referring to “the city that saved itself.” That was soon followed by a presidential visit, with all the attendant hoopla.The News-Sentinel won the Pulitzer Prize for its flood coverage. GM is said to have incorporated Fort Wayne’s example of self-reliance into its leadership-training programs at the time.Copied from A FLOOD OF CREDIT by Craig Ladwig published September 12, 2014 in The Journal Gazette newspaper now on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
March 14, 2017 post by WANE 15 on Facebook:
It's been 35 years since the historic flood of 1982. Tonight at 5 and 6, Meteorologist Hannah Strong will take you back in time to view the wide-spread destruction and lasting impact that those floodwaters caused that March.
- Video for 35th anniversary posted March 14, 2017 on Facebook by CBS WANE-TV NewsChannel 15.
March 15, 2018 post by Purdue Fort Wayne Library on Facebook:
The “big event” of March 1982 was the flood, caused in part by the melting of the winter’s heavy snows. Walb Student Union and Helmke Library were the hardest hit but other buildings were impacted as well. Classroom-Medical (now Liberal Arts) housed the music department, which had to move 30 pianos out of harm’s way.
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