WPA Disaster Relief - 1938
Scenes of WPA Disaster Relief Include Harrisburg Flood, Clothing Distribution Center (Louisville), Levee Work (Memphis), Clean-up (Memphis), Wreckage Clearing (Gainesville, Georgia), Levee Work (Tennessee). Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938. GGA Image ID # 1529216c9c
Wherever disaster has struck in America since the WPA was created, WPA workers have formed a mobile peace army which could be shifted almost overnight from its regular tasks to battle the unruly elements or care for human refugees.
Disaster Relief -- WPA Workers. Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938. GGA Image ID # 1529c51b58
These campaigns—against flood, drought, storm, and fire—have been as dramatic as they have been impossible to capture in a statistical inventory of accomplishments.
There is no way to measure, for example, the services of WPA workers to the people of Gainesville, Ga., after much of its downtown district was destroyed by a 1936 tornado which killed 200 persons out of a population of 10,000. They erected a temporary city hall and Red Cross headquarters in 2 days, built sanitary toilets, cleared the streets, distributed carloads of WPA-made clothing and bedding, and razed tottering walls.
That same spring eight northeastern rivers went on a rampage through half a dozen States. Again WPA workers plunged into the thick of the fight, filling and piling sandbags, rescuing those trapped by the water, distributing food and clothing, registering refugees, and cleaning up.
The Ohio River flood of 1937 was a repetition, with greater intensity, of the disasters of the previous year. More than a score of WPA workers lost their lives before it was over. But again these workers for whom private industry had no place proved their value, in time of crisis, as the shock troops of disaster.
In drought areas they have performed a wide range of service, from building dams and digging wells to providing food and clothing.
They have joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in many a fight against forest fire.
The combination of hurricane and flood which left New England prostrate in the autumn of 1938 brought forth an army of 110,000 WPA workers to battle the elements, hunt for bodies, clean up debris, and restore public facilities.
More Scenes of WPA Disaster Relief Include The Rebuilding of Leavenworth (Indiana), Forest Fire (Michigan), Drought (South Dakota), Cleaning Up Books (Louisville), Dust Storm (Colorado), Deserted Farm (Kansas), Relocation Bureau (Louisville). Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938. GGA Image ID # 15294f054e
"Disaster Relief," in Inventory: An Appraisal of Results of the Works Progress Administration, Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938, pp. 87-89.