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As It Was: Heavy Redding, Calif., Rainfall Strands People, Threatens Bridges

On February 27, 1940, more than two inches of rain fell in six hours in Redding, Calif., the storm contributing to seasonal rainfall of more than 42 inches, about twice the normal amount.

The storm knocked out telephone service.  Although Shasta Dam was under construction, there was no controlling the Sacramento River, which rose more than a foot an hour.  The flooding severely damaged or rendered three Redding bridges unusable, the Market Street Bridge, the Free Bridge and the Diestelhorst Bridge. 

An 8-year old boy drowned in Castle Creek when he slipped off a log, and 19-year-old Irene Clement drowned when a car overturned into Salt Creek.  Rescuers saved her 17-year-old sister, Maxine, and the driver.

Firefighters in boats rescued 50 people whose homes had been flooded.  Four hundred people in Redding were left homeless and 400 were stranded in Anderson to the south, resulting in a state of emergency.  Hundreds of pigs and sheep were lost.

People crossing the Diestelhorst Bridge after the storm abated signed liability releases before wading two or three at a time through four feet of water.


Source: Fitzpatrick, John. "The Last Flood." The Covered Wagon, 1994, pp. 29-31.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.