Yuba City Floods (1955)

About This Item

KRON-TV special report from Yuba City (Sutter County, CA) on December 31st 1955 and January 1st 1956 by Tom Mullahey, about the disastrous flooding that affected Yuba City and Marysville on Christmas Eve, after the Shanghai Bend of the Yuba City levee was breached (on Feather River). Features scenes of Mullahey describing what happened stood on what remains of the levee, of residents cleaning up wreckage and interviews with local residents: Mrs. Ernest Mayfield; Mr. & Mrs. Verdorn; Don Curt; Bill Curt; Bob Curt; Tom McDaniel; Ben Moltz and Mrs. Mary Meyer. Also includes views of children receiving typhoid shots, of a church service and sermon and of Yuba City Mayor Glenn Gauche praising the courage of the local population.

Type of material
special report
16mm b&w, optical sound film
Rights for this video belong to
Date aired
Originally aired on

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I was four years old the night of the flood, staying at our family farmhouse on Garden Hwy near Bogue Rd, right on the Feather River. My father and grandfather walked along the top of the levee and saw the rising water and spent four hours moving all our furniture and belongings to the second floor. We evacuated in our Studebaker to a church in the town of Sutter.  Unfortunately, the levee broke right on our place and washed away our farmhouse and 9 outbuildings (barn, sheds, garage) and uprooted our two pear orchards. We considered ourselves lucky to get out, unlike the 40 people who died that night and when the water was still at flood level in the following days.

Does anyone know what church it was that sheltered us and other flood victims that night?Thanks.

My grandfather Orval Roy Stafford was serving in National Guards in Oroville,CA and was involved in accident in military jeep when a vehicle driven by civilian broadsided them and he suffered major head trauma and comatose for couple weeks and left disabled and with no compensation or recognition from service ... I wondered if anyone had newspaper coverage from this accident  and how to obtain a copy . 

I was 4 1/2 years old living on Feather River blvd. and remember walking to the top of the levee and looking down and the water was about 3 feet below the top.. we were evacuated because the levee was thought to fail..  we were taken in by a Family in Wheatland, the Pankey's.. The best giving and loving Family i ever met..

My dad, a crop duster at Sutter County Airport, was one of the many men working on the levy until it started to fail around midnight. At 12:30 a.m. door-to-door evacuations began. My mother got my three sisters and me out of bed, grabbed the clothes we'd worn the day before off the foot of our beds, and a stack of diapers for the youngest, still a baby and met my dad in the driveway to load us into the car. i remember driving away from our house and the water was rushing toward us so my dad quickly turned the car in the opposite direction following the mass evacuation out of Yuba City. We lost our house that had just closed escrow barely a month prior, pretty much everything in it and because the airport sat below the levy at the confluence of the Feather and Yuba Rivers...my dad was pretty sure that he didn't have a job to return to.  But what is foremost in my memory is the kindness and generosity of friends, relatives, and perfect strangers. My mother never lamented our loss but always said we were among the fortunate that survived.

The water was overtaking our house as we packed as much into our car as possible. Our parents plus us three kids, and our cat, Captain Midnight. The Christmas tree had been surrounded by presents and mom and dad said, no matter what, we were going to have our Christmas. So, they put as many presents as possible into the car.

One of us rolled down a window, and Captain Midnight (who was frightened about being in the car) jumped out. He was gone. I still miss him. He was so scared, as were we.

I don't remember where we went for shelter. Dad was in the Air Force, so I imagine we were more fortunate than others.

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