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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049
Release date
May 23, 2001
Charles Perry

1951 Floods Remembered

"Measured in terms of human suffering, tremendous losses in property, and extensive disruption of business activities throughout the flooded area, it was the greatest catastrophe within the history of the region. Measured in terms of river stages and discharges, and of extent of the areas inundated, it was the greatest flood in the Kansas River Basin of which there is reliable record," said N.T. Veatch, consulting engineer in his 1952 American Water Works Association paper on the 1951 floods in Kansas.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of the Interior, is commemorating this historic Kansas event with a new fact sheet and photo gallery on its Internet home page. Several public lectures about the 1951 floods in Kansas also are planned with dates to be announced later this summer.

Fifty years have passed since above-normal precipitation in May and June and a 5-day rain storm in July 1951 caused the largest floods to occur in Kansas during the 20th century. "Time allows us to forget how bad the flood was," said Charles Perry, USGS hydrologist. "These floods were a terrible disaster and caught a lot of people unaware." Nineteen people lost their lives and 1,100 people were injured. Damage to property was estimated at $2.5 billion (about $17 billion in 2000 dollars).

The USGS has monitored streams and lakes in Kansas for more than 100 years. Currently, the USGS operates 160 streamflow-gaging stations throughout the State. Although the equipment has been modernized since 1951, the type of data collected at the stations is the same now as then. Streamflow information collected by the USGS during floods is used for reservoir operations, flood warning and forecasting, design of bridges and flood-control structures, and flood-plain regulation and insurance purposes. Real-time streamflow information for Kansas streams is available on the Internet at:

Copies of Fact Sheet 041-01, "The 1951 Floods in Kansas Revisited," by Kyle E. Juracek, Charles A. Perry, and James E. Putnam are available from the USGS, Information Services, Box 25286, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0286, or call 1-888-ASK-USGS. A limited number of copies are available from the USGS office in Lawrence, Kansas.

To view the photo gallery and the fact sheet commemorating the 1951 floods in Kansas, visit our Internet home page at:

As the nation's largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the conservation and the sound economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources, and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy, and mineral resources.


Note to Editor: Additional materials and interviews pertaining to the 1951 floods in Kansas are available from the USGS, Lawrence, Kansas. Please contact Donita Turk, 785-832-3570; email:

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