Old Photos: Kansas City Recovers From The Great Flood of 1951

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1951 which was the “most devastating of all modern floods for Kansas City since its levee system was not built to withstand it”. Six weeks after the flood the Life Magazine article described the cleanup and reconstruction efforts ahead of the President Truman’s visit to the area.

As President Truman planned inspection of the area this week, he would find big industries making a comeback of some sort. But he would see the average man, though trying hard, bogged down in a problem clearly too big to solve by himself.

In the flooded area lay hundreds of thousands of stripped acres, some so badly scoured of soil or buried by silt they can never grow another crop. Hundreds of businesses and thousands of homes lay incongruously sunk in topsoil from faroff farms. Makeshift railway tracks snaked over cornfields far from vanished roadbeds. Ninety percent of the area’s bridges, sewers, water and power systems were still out of whack.

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller

© Time Inc. Francis Miller