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The Ohio River flood of 1937 took place in January and February of that year, with damage stretching from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cairo, Illinois. One million people were left homeless, 385 were killed, and property losses exceeding $5 million dollars ($8 billion, in 2012) made it one of the worst natural disasters to hit the U.S. in the 20th century. Unable to keep the water back, parts of Northern Kentucky remained underwater for 19 days.
When the waters finally began to recede, federal and state resources were strained to aid in recovery efforts since the disaster occurred during the Great Depression. The scale of the 1937 flood was so unprecedented that many people lobbied for national authorities to create a comprehensive plan for flood control. One such plan called for the creation of flood walls.
The flood Walls in Covington were built during the 1940’s. A primarily vertical artificial barrier designed to temporarily contain waters from the Ohio River, its construction changed the landscape of Covington’s waterfront.
Led by artist Robert Dafford, a team of artists created a magnificent illustration of the history of Covington by using the flood wall. A series of 18 panels depicts a variety of scenes from the meeting of General George Rogers Clark, Simon Kenton, and Daniel Boone on the mouth of the Licking River to the Tall Stacks Festival of 2008. The murals span hundreds of feet along the floodwall and create a spectacular visual effect.