View photographs and see a movie of Humboldt County’s largest catastrophe, while hearing firsthand reports of rescue and relief operations from key participants. The Flood of ‘64 is the topic at the Humboldt County Historical Society program meeting on Saturday, January 9. There will be two showings of this popular program: at 1 p.m. and again at 3 p.m., in the first-floor conference room of the Humboldt County Library, 1313 Third Street, Eureka. Admission is free and everyone is invited.

Captain Jeremiah Scott, Fred Nelson, and Jim Hill will describe the rescue operations mounted by water, land, and air after the flood of December 1964 displaced thousands of people, destroyed the Northwest Pacific Railroad from Covelo to Fortuna, and knocked out major bridges on the Eel, Klamath, Mad, Trinity, and Van Duzen Rivers.

Captain Jeremiah Scott, commanding officer of the 250th Transportation Company of the Army Reserve, led his unit as they struggled to reach stranded families by river in amphibious DWKS, called “ducks.” These were the same DWKS used at the invasion of Normandy. Made to travel on both land and water, the DWKS were not greatly seaworthy, and the swift-moving waters of the Eel posed dangers for the rescuers as they attempted to reach those in need of food, water, and medical supplies.

Fred Nelson, later Eureka Postmaster, was Assistant Superintendent of the Mails at the time of the ‘64 flood, and it was his responsibility to get mail in and out of Humboldt County during the months that surface routes were washed out.


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Jim Hill, an Army Korean War veteran, was one of the local pilots assigned to each Army and Navy helicopter that arrived in Humboldt to aid flood relief. These local pilots guided the helicopter pilots throughout Humboldt, helping them to locate the sites where stranded people awaited rescue.

At the conclusion of the program, Arlene Hartin will show the twenty-four minute movie of the ‘64 flood that was made by Caltrans.

For more information please contact the Humboldt County Historical Society at 445-4342, or visit www.humboldthistory.org.

PHOTO COURTESY HUMBOLDT COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Flood of December 1964. Looking south across the Eel River toward Rio Dell.