Cathy Deckert Knapp


Written Memory


June 12, 2012


My Flood Experience
On the night of June 9th I was working at the Rehab hospital located on Mountain View. We knew it had been raining and one of the girls I worked with knew her home area was flooding so she was going to come home with me. We left at the end of our shift which was around 11:30 but as we got to the corner of Mountain View and Jackson Blvd. a police officer stopped us and told us we could not go home that way and to go back to the hospital and wait. I Thank the Lord for that officer or we would have driven right into the path of the flood. Instead we went back to the hospital and were standing by the door when a man jumped out of a car and ran inside and said there was a wall of water right behind him. We watched as the water picked up his car and washed it away. By then the water had started coming in the building and so we went back to the nurses desk and the nurse decided we needed to get patients to the second floor. She said we should use the elevator which I as a young 18 year old nurses aide questioned her on as I knew we shouldn't use it in a fire, but she thought it would be safe.So I got on the elevator with two wheelchair bound patients. About then the electricity went out and the elevator descended to the basement. The water was coming in under and from above the door so I wasn't sure how much water was in the basement, but I knew we would drown if we did not get out. So I prayed and as I did the suction on the door gave way and I was able to push the door open enough to see there was only about four feet of water in the hall. I tried opening the door to the stairs but because of the pressure gradient I couldn't open it. There was a food cart next to the elevator so I put both patients on top of the cart and proceeded to swim through the corridor to the outside door which was bent from the pressure of the water. I made my way up the steps and then into the back door of the hospital. There was water in the hall and the man who had come in earlier and one of the nurses were there. I told them we needed to get the patients out of the basement, they told me they were probably drowned but I told them they were up high and all we had to do was break down the inside door which is what we did. Both women were wet but alright. We got them settled and I went to use the pay phone in the lobby to call my mother to tell her I was alright but would not be home that night. About then a man came in the door of the hospital and said they had about 30 residents from the Mountain View nursing home at the gas station on the corner and could they bring them in. I told him yes and then told the head nurse we were getting 30 more patients. We spent the rest of the night settling these patients. The next morning I went home. There was a house in the hospital parking lot across the street and as I drove down Jackson Blvd. I had to go around all kinds of debris. I made it home safely, slept for awhile and then returned the next evening to work. The whole week seemed surreal and you took one day at a time. I know the Lord was with me that night or the door would never have opened and that police officer wouldn't have turned me around. I remember all the chaos of that night and always wondered about one man who had gone out into the water later to rescue someone from the parking lot of Bennett Clarkson Hospital. I don't know if he made it but I always hoped he had. There were many heroes that night and many who gave there lives for others. On this 40th anniversary I hope we can remember the courage and self sacrifice of the people who experienced that tragic night and let that courage inspire the generations to come.



“Cathy Deckert Knapp,” Flood of 1972, accessed August 1, 2021,