Tag Archives: Crying Cow

“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.

Rainy Today? Na! Remember 1947? Holy Cow! SLR/IRL

My husband tells me I shouldn’t consider myself NOAA, but I am certain that since May 13th my rain gauge has documented over 34 inches of rain in south Sewall’s Point.

Crazy!

I have had cabin fever, trapped inside, but happy my roof is not leaking. And to think, hurricane season doesn’t officially start until Friday!

It has rained hard in Florida before; we just might not remember…

Crying Cow image along with report, sent to Washington to promote C&SFP.

The  South Florida Water Management District describes the most memorable of rains like this:

“In 1947, after years of drought, the state is deluged by rainfall averaging 100 inches per year. This “Crying Cow” cover illustration from a 1947 flood drainage report becomes the symbol of the devastating effects of South Florida’s weather extremes. Floridians ask the federal government to step in with a flood protection plan.”

That flood protection plan was named the Central and South Florida Project, or C&SFP and it did indeed help tremendously with the flooding, but unfortunately came along with serious side effects that destroy our ecosystem, especially our waters. This is why there is CERP, “The Restudy,” or Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, consisting of 68 major projects that the EAA Reservoir (https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/eaa-reservoir)
is part. CERP’s goal is to try to undo, or ameliorate, some of what was done in 1948 and onward due to 1947’s rain.

SFWMD, C&SFP: http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx

Everglades Restoration: https://www.evergladesrestoration.gov

Sun Sentinel Article on 1947 rains: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1990-09-09/features/9002130092_1_lake-okeechobee-water-hurricane

River of Interest, ACOE, C&SFP: http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interests_2012_chap_02.pdf

When I was trapped inside during the deluge this past weekend, I started wondering what the land looked like back then, in the 40s, when the federal government made so many changes. I wasn’t born yet, but my father’s parents would come to Stuart in 1952, not too much later. Since then through agriculture and development most of these lands have changed.  All those little ponds should have been a clue. You can drain them, but you can’t take them away.

View Florida’s early landscapes: UF Smather’s Library, Dept of Ag. Aerial Surveys: 1938 onward : http://ufdc.ufl.edu/aerials/all

UF Library 1940 aerials, Dept. of Agriculture. Border Palm Beach and Martin County
Close-up Palm Beach/Martin border 1940. Note ponds/wetlands.