Ever since its first days as a small city, Enid has been intermittently plagued by flash floods that have wreaked havoc through much of the southwest and central areas of our town.
The greater Enid area is crisscrossed by a number of small creeks most of which empty into Boggy Creek. These small tributaries usually are little more than shallow muddy gullies, most of which can be easily jumped across by a long-legged teenager.
But during times of heavy rainfall they become fierce little giants, leaving their banks and flooding roads and sometimes damaging bridges.
There have been other floods over the past decades, but probably the worst flood in most memories was the one that occurred on the evening of Oct. 10, 1973, after a weather system stalled-out over Enid and dumped 17 inches of rain on the city in just a matter of hours.
This time the rushing waters affected widely diverse areas of the city. People were driven from their homes in almost every low-level area in the town.
Boggy Creek, swollen to the size of a small river swooshed through town, inundating residences and businesses alike, and tumbling automobiles across the St. Mary’s Hospital parking lot, and running into the hospital’s basement, where it destroyed valuable equipment and cut off electricity and telephone service to the hospital.
Madge Loomis, a realtor at Coldwell Banker, remembers well the 1973 flood. She and her husband Bud Loomis were out in it that night, and she kept a flood journal, so to speak. The journal relates events as they occurred that night to both them and some of their friends.
They lived on West Chestnut, west of Cleveland in 1973, and owned C.E. Loomis Furniture and Crescent Furniture just a block east of the Square on East Broadway.
When the tornado sirens began to blow they got into their truck along with Steve, who worked for them, and Lindy, their dog, and headed for the safety of the basement at the Crescent Furniture store.
Their truck stalled out in high water near the intersection of Randolph and Johnson.
They finally got the truck started again, drove a block south to Broadway and headed for town, stopping along the way at Central Christian Church, where church members were frantically mopping up rainwater, trying to keep it out of the sanctuary. They helped, and then moved on.
Madge remembers hearing warnings on the radio Boggy Creek was overflowing and threatening homes in the Brookside addition east of South 30th.
They left the furniture store about 11 p.m. when the rain abated a little, which was the pattern the storm had followed most of the night. It would slack off and then there would be another downpour.
They drove a larger truck home, one that could better navigate deep water. Near McKinley school on West Broadway, Madge wrote that she saw cars with only their roofs sticking out of the water
She said on the radio they were appealing for anyone with a boat to go to Brookside addition and rescue people who were stranded on the roofs of their houses by the high water.
She said the streets of Brooks and Dwelle were the hardest hit.
One resident of the area told Madge he sat on his roof with his neighbors for six hours in a driving rain, just praying that it wouldn’t rise anymore. Their house and everything they had worked for all of their lives was gone. They just sat there on their roof and watched their belongings float away. But she said the young man was happy that they were all still alive.
When the drainage ditch in southwest Enid overflowed, the water flooded several homes along South Hayes, south of Garriott leaving from 2 to 4 feet of water standing in the homes.
Madge wrote water was deep at David and Carolyn Selby’s home. They tried to get across the street to the Hensons’ house. Carolyn said the water hit her chin in the middle of the street.
The late Dick Lambertz, who owned Lambert’s store downtown, told Madge after the flood, when he opened the front door of the house at Hayes and Comanche, carrying his children, a wave of water hit him in the chest and he had to grab the door jam to keep from falling. He and his wife had to swim to dry land with their children under their arms.
There also was a good deal of damage along Cherry and Meadowbrook, as well as other streets in the north-central part of town.
Madge described the flood damage she saw as “devastating” and mind altering.
A series of detention ponds west and northwest of Enid — some of them situated behind businesses along with the flood diversion channel — should work well together and help prevent a recurrence of the 1973 flood.
Brown is a retired News & Eagle editor.