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Name on elementary school is also Carroll's connection to 1927 flood

Despite a dire weather forecast earlier this month, we dodged a weather bullet when Hurricane Joaquin stayed out to sea.

South Carolina was not so lucky. The national news media has carried a number of stories about flooding there that was so bad that Gov. Nikki Haley said, "We are at a 1,000-year level of rain," according to CNN.

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While perhaps not to those historic levels, throughout its history Carroll County has had its fair share of bad floods.

On Monday, July 30, 1923, a flood "swept down the valleys, flooding hundreds of homes … and causing great property damage," in southern Carroll Co. according to an Aug. 3, 1923 article in the Democratic Advocate newspaper.

Research for the Historical Society of Carroll Co. by historian Mary Ann Ashcraft indicates that another flood on July 24, 1868, destroyed much of Sykesville.

The devastating historic floods that followed Hurricane Agnes beginning on June 21, 1972 and Hurricane Eloise on Sept. 26, 1975 destroyed bridges, roads and homes through Carroll Co.

However, it is another flood; one that took place in 1927, which had a profound socio-political effect on American history and has a Carroll connection, though it did not even take place in Carroll County..

It was in the late fall of that year that the Mississippi River broke "out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded" an area the size of four New England States, according to a documentary by PBS.

"On April 21, 1927, the levee broke near Mounds Landing, inundating much of Washington County…"

According to numerous accounts, "330,000 African-Americans [had been] moved to 154 relief camps. Over 13,000 'refugees' near Greenville, Mississippi were evacuated to … an unbroken levee, and stranded there for days without food or clean water, while boats arrived to evacuate white women and children."

PBS reports that the National Guard was called in to patrol the "refugee camps" and robbed, assaulted, raped and murdered black Americans held on the levee.

Meanwhile, the administration of President Calvin Coolidge "placed Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in command of all flood relief operations."

Hoover, who harbored presidential hopes, swept into action and as a result was praised by the national press. There was only one thing that could tarnish Hoover's glowing image — the treatment of black Americans in the Washington County levee camps.

Hoover turned to Robert Russa Moton, who had replaced founder Booker T. Washington as the head of the Tuskegee Institute. Hoover asked Moton, who was considered a prominent black American leader in the Republican Party, to form the "Colored Advisory Commission" and investigate.

"The commission … presented the findings to Hoover... But the information was never made public. Hoover had asked the Tuskegee president to keep a tight lid on his investigation," according to a number of accounts, including PBS. In return, Hoover promised Moton a role in his administration once he was elected president.

However, once elected in 1928, "Hoover ignored … the promises he had made to his black constituency."

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In the following election of 1932, the Tuskegee president withdrew his support for Hoover and switched to the Democratic Party. In an historic shift, black Americans began to abandon the Republicans… and turned to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Democratic Party instead."

Meanwhile, at the same time, Dr. George M. Crawford became principal of the only Carroll County high school to educate black Americans in 1931; and was instrumental in the school being named after Robert Moton.

And, in addition to Moton, for heavy metal fans, as a result of the 1927 Mississippi Flood, we got the Nov. 8, 1971 Led Zeppelin remake of Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie's June 18, 1929 blues recording of "If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break…"

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