“The Crying Cow Report,” Tentative Report of Flood Damage, Florida Everglades Drainage District, 1947

It took ten years, but I finally got to see it. An original of the report that both changed and created the South Florida we know today. Best known as the “Crying Cow Report,” sometimes, “The Weeping Cow Report,” this booklet’s official name is the “Tentative Report of Flood Damage, Florida Everglades Drainage District, 1947,”  written after the very rainy year of 1947 that flooded many parts of Central and South Florida, inspiring Congress to fund extensive drainage and reworking of South and Central Florida canals through the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project: (https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/common/pdf/history/60th_monthly_gb_2009_mar.pdf)

I arranged all ahead of time, at the South Florida Water Management’s Library. Librarian, Yailenis Diaz was there to greet me and together we carefully, page by page, reviewed this historic document. The images of flooding are heartbreaking. By the end of our time together, she and I thought we had figured out why the document became known as the “Crying Cow Report”– other than the fact that there is a crying cow on its cover. ~At the end of the document you will find a newspaper article preserved, and a poem with the title “Crying Cow of the Everglades” by Lamar Johnson, Everglades Drainage District Engineer. Wow, an engineer that wrote poetry, times have changed.

So, why is this document so important, and what can we learn from it today? This document is important because it changed the world and because in a pre-modern-internet-electronic-world, the people of Florida communicated with their U.S. Congress, using the powerful images, and simple writing of this booklet. Every member of Congress was given the report face to face, leaving an impression, and inspiring the funding of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project ~as the linked presentation above shows, both a blessing, and a curse.

Perhaps it’s time to send a new report to Congress that also would leave a lasting impression? Can you think of anything, an image, simple words that would communicate modern 2019 concerns?

I can.

16 thoughts on ““The Crying Cow Report,” Tentative Report of Flood Damage, Florida Everglades Drainage District, 1947

  1. How about a dead dolphin with a stomach filled with plastic, like the one that washed-up on Fort Myers Beach last week.Or the baby manatee that nuzzled its dead mother outside the Cape Coral Yacht Club while the Army Corps of Engineers held overflowed meeting on LORS last summer? Thank you as always for your eternal vigilance, Jacqui.

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  2. Very cool document ( Gloves might be called for in the future) . Here is an excerpt from The Great Florida Flood!

    [” On March 24, 1948, EDD chairman Dewey Hilsabeck and chief engineer Lamar Johnson were hauled before the grand jury.

    Johnson, describing himself as the “favorite whipping boy of Broward County,” later wrote:

    “The room was small, the atmosphere frosty, and the faces unfriendly, except for the one Negro juryman. I was not invited to be seated. I stood behind the least antagonistic member of the jury, the Negro, to testify. Their questions were terse; my answers, I am afraid, convinced very few … I was not sure as I left whether I should go back to work or get my affairs in order in preparation for a jail sentence.”

    The EDD’s defense was based primarily on the contention that it was trying to clear all flood waters as quickly as possible. The rainfall was so great that the moves proposed by various Broward interests would not really have helped, Johnson said. In addition, the EDD was trying to avoid bloodshed and the destruction of district structures.

    Within a week the grand jury returned its verdict. It recommended no action against Hilsabeck or Johnson and called for repair of the flood-damaged works.”]

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  3. Thank you Jacqui

    I will read and give my undivided attention .

    Holly D. Smith, Councilwoman
    Sanibel City Council
    City of Sanibel
    239-270-1725
    holly.smith@mysanibel.com
    http://www.mysanibel.com

    PLEASE NOTE: Florida has a very broad public records law. Most written communications to or from the City of Sanibel regarding City business are public records available to the public and media upon request. Your e-mail communications, including your email address, may be subject to public disclosure.

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  4. We have also had droughts where you could walk across Lake O. If you drain Lake O. and then have a drought you have screwed everyone. Decisions should always be made on hard science and NOT emotion.

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  5. The small book is interesting and is the cry for the need for Lake O and the drainage canals.
    The problem that still exists is that the Kissimmee River is bringing the pollution to the lake and then to the coasts. The 1950 Census had 700,000 people living Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade counties today those populations are in the millions. The same growth has occurred along the so call I4 corridor. We are loving our state to death. It is the time to begin to think about treating stormwater before it flows into the rivers, lakes, and lagoons.

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  6. I am in the middle of designing a portable chicken house to get rid of mosquitos. 30 birds on each side of a 12 foot long house—lined up on perchs— each bird can eat about 3-4 mosquitos a second. Its amazing to see it happen. Our state gov. representing special interest like poison companies is never going to change.

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  7. What should have been done for the last 50 years is use track hoes and dump trucks to put fertile muck in canals back on farm land but instead you have thousands of miles of toxic chemicals in canals oreserved in acid waiting to be activated.

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  8. Thanks again Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for your passion, documentation and sharing interesting facts about our state and natural treasures. Your writing is very informative. That document is a part of history. Thanks always!

    Liked by 1 person

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