Bromley has suffered greatly from periodic flooding since its establishment.
Much of the city was built on low ground near the Ohio River. Earlier
floods, including the flood of 1913, did severe damage to the town.
The 1937 flood was the greatest catastrophe in the history of the City
of Bromley. Floodwaters began rising in mid-January. By January 20, 1937,
the Ohio River was expected to crest at 61'. The homes on Pike Street
were sitting in 3' of water and the two streets connecting the city to
Ludlow were underwater. Bromley was now cut off from all its neighbors.
By January 21, one third of Bromley was underwater, including all of Pike
and Shelby Streets from Pleasant to Short Streets.
The situation became more desperate on January 23, when the gas supply
to Bromley was cut. By that time, a ferry was in operation between Ludlow
and Bromley. A ferry dock was established on Boone Street in Bromley.
Boats brought food and coal to this dock from Ludlow on a regular basis
throughout the duration of the flood. On Black Sunday, January 25, 1937,
the Ohio River reached a stage of 79.9' - the highest level in recorded
history. At this time, Bromley was 70% underwater.
The Bromley City Hall became a relief headquarters. Food was served here
and a number of people found temporary shelter in the building. The city
hall also was used as a health center. Inoculations for typhoid were given
to all the residents at the hall. By January 26, 600 Bromley residents
had been driven from their homes. Many were living with friends and relatives
on high ground. Relief activities were under the director of Bromley Fire
Chief Walter Scheid. Herman Bogenschutz, a Bromley grocer, was put in
charge of food rationing.
The Immanuel Reformed Church was used to house victims and to store furnishings.
The Bromley Drug Store, which was located in the flooded district, operated
from the church building during this same time. At the height of the flood,
the Bromley Christian Church was completely packed with residents' belongings
As the floodwaters receded, cleanup work began. Nearly twenty homes in
the city had been shifted from their foundations during the flood. Seven
homes had simply disappeared down the river. The Federal Government sent
165 WPA workers to Bromley and Ludlow to aid in the cleanup efforts. It
would take the city months to recover from the devastation.
One direct result of the flood was the construction of Highwater Road.
During the flood, the City of Bromley was completely isolated. All routes
entering and leaving the city were blocked. Following the flood, city
officials promoted the construction of this new road linking Bromley to
Villa Hills. Highwater Road proved very beneficial to the city during
the 1964 and 1997 floods when other roads were blocked by high water.
Kentucky Post, January 15, 1937, p. 1, January 18, 1937, p. 1, January
19, 1937, p. 1, January 20, 1937, p. 1, January 21, 1937, p. 1, January
22, 1937, p. 1, January 23, 1937, p. 1, January 25, 1937, p. 1, January
26, 1937, p. 2, January 27, 1937, p. 2, January 29, 1937, p. 1, February
2, 1937, p. 1 and February 4, 1937, p. 1.