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Disaster Relief in Minnesota: Floods

Flood Relief Overview

Flood scenes, St. Paul.

Major floods in Minnesota history include:

  • 1950: A Red River flood in April-June caused four deaths and $11,000,000 in damages
  • 1952: April flooding in the Upper Mississippi and the Red River basins caused 11 deaths and pushed damage totals over $190,000,000
  • 1965: April flooding of the Upper Mississippi, Minnesota, and Red Rivers cased 14 deaths and significant property damage. The entire stretch of the Mississippi recorded the highest flood levels in history. 
  • 1972: Morrison County receives 14 inches of rain in one day. 
  • 1975: June rains leads to flooding in the Red River Valley with extensive damages in a 10-county area.
  • 1978: July flooding in Rochester leads to 5 deaths and $100,000,000 in losses. 13 counties in southeast Minnesota are declared disaster areas.  
  • 1987: Rainstorms in the Twin Cities on July 20-24 result in more than 20 inches of rain. 
  • 2002: Floods in April-May exceed the 1965 levels on the Red River, Minnesota, Mississippi, and St. Croix Rivers. 

Flood information taken from

Major Disasters in Minnesota, by Ruth Bauer Anderson
MNHS call number: Reference Desk 606.1 .A67 2001

Resources on Floods in Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Fire, Flood, and Tornado Relief Records, 1937-1939
Correspondence and financial records for five relief projects administered by the Department of Agriculture: floods at Thief River Falls in Aitkin County and in the Snake River Valley, a tornado in southern and southwestern Minnesota, and a forest fire in St. Louis County. 
MNHS Call Number: See finding aid in the library (Agriculture Department)

Minnesota Division of Emergency Services, 1993 and 1997 Flood Relief Files, 1993-1997
Records documenting the major flooding on the Minnesota, Red, and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries in Minnesota during the summer of 1993 and the spring of 1997. Includes situation/briefing memos, federal and state agreements and publications, various county boards’ assistance and agricultural disaster resolutions and requests, photographs, legislation and appropriations, press clippings, future planning materials, and more.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

Minnesota Executive Council, Relief Correspondence and Records, 1919-1955
Correspondence and related materials to disaster relief for a wide range of disasters in Minnesota. Includes records flood relief. 
MNHS Call Number: See finding aid in the library (Executive Council)

Minnesota Military Support Section, Flood Claim Records, 1972
Damage survey reports, audit reports, vouchers, and related records of federal disaster assistance claims for flood damage suffered during the summer of 1972.
MNHS Call Number: See the finding aid in the library (Military Affairs Department: Military Support Section)

Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, Natural Disaster Audits, 1965-1973
Financial summaries, project applications, and audit reports compiled by the Public Examiner/Legislative Auditor in order to approve reimbursement from state funds to counties and communities, largely for repair of flood damages. 
MNHS Call Number: See the finding aid in the library (Legislative Auditor)

Mississippi River Flood of 1965 Photograph Collection
Views of Mississippi River flooding during April of 1965 commissioned by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company. Includes images of rail lines and surrounding areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
MNHS Call Number: Digital Finding Aid

The Red River Floods of 1997 Oral History Project
Interviews documenting the 1997 flood and its effects on the people living in the Minnesota communities along the Red River of the North. Narrators include government officials, private citizens, homeowners, business owners, weather forecasters, insurance personnel and psychologists. To listen to an individual interview or read a transcript, click on the individual interviews listed in the "Related Collections" section, then click on the related icon at the top of the screen. 
MNHS Call Number: Digital Collection 

Interested in more materials about floods in Minnesota? Search the MNHS Catalog to locate other sources. 

Sample Images at MNHS

Search for images related to floods through our Collections Online System. Then filter the results using the options in the system's left-hand column.

You may want to try specific terms like:​

  • flood
    • Search for variations of "flood" by searching for: flood#. For more search strategy information visit our image FAQ page
  • Name of individual river or city

Minnesota Governor Karl Rolvaag, President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Walter Mondale pause in the midst of floodwaters during the 1965 Minnesota flood disaster.Boys playing in a flooded street.Hanlon farm at Aitkin during flood.

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Newspapers

Newsboy distributing January 1937 Minneapolis Journal.

The Minnesota Historical Society holds the world's largest collection of Minnesota newspapers, with dates ranging from 1849 to the present day.

Past issues of most newspaper titles are available on microfilm in the MNHS library, but there is also digital access to select newspapers

Use the links to the left to search for newspapers available at MNHS and to search within digitized newspaper collections.   

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