The Great Molasses Flood
New Orleans has had more than its share of sorrow. We all remember Hurricane Katrina. And there were hurricanes and floods before that one. But have you heard about the Great Molasses Flood of 1911?
In 1911, New Orleans was home to the largest molasses storage depot in the world, the Sugar Planters’ Storage and Distributing company. On Spetember 11, something went horribly worng. The tank burst and the city was innundated with brown sticky goo. More than a million gallons of the stuff. Imagine: the streets of New Orleans flowing with a river of slow-moving molasses, up to fifteen feet deep in some spots. A quarter of a mile away, the molasses was reported to be filling the streets to a depth of twelve inches. That’ s a lot of molasses.
The city rescue teams had a time of it; people were trapped in houses, animals were stuck in the gluey stuff, and the going was sticky. No body died, but it was an awful mess to clean up. It didn’t help matters when two great water mains broke, making the streets flow even more with molasses soup. And then the flies showed up.
Those who managed to find high ground found a way to make a bad situation a bit better. They filled their jugs and buckets and spent the next few months living high on the syrup.
Source: “Molasses Floods City,” New York Tribune 12 Sept. 1911