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The W.P.A. saves the day

On April 8, 1935, the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins, the President's advisor, believed that an employment program such as the Works Progress Administration, set up under the act, would bring economic recovery to the country and result in less dependence on public assistance. The goal was to provide one paid job for any family in which the breadwinner had been unemployed long-term.

The W.P.A. did turn out to be an economic boon for the country. And fortunately for Louisville, as well as other parts of Kentucky, the program's work benefited those affected by the 1937 Flood, shown in the following news items from The Courier-Journal.

Jan 20th - W.P.A. workers toil night and day to move families and their possessions from The Point, a neighborhood along the Ohio River north of Butchertown.

Jan 21st - More than 500 W.P.A. workers are assigned across the state to construct dikes, strengthen levees, and repair bridges, roads, and utility connections.

Jan 24th - Directors gather clothing and household articles made by women at W.P.A. work centers throughout the state and distribute the goods to those who need them.

By the time the W.P.A. disbanded in 1943 due to wartime low unemployment rates, nearly every community in the United States had a new park, bridge, road, or school constructed by W.P.A. workers. Millions of workers employed by the agency built courthouses, hospitals, libraries, museums, coliseums, and fairgrounds, many of which are still in use today.

Of particular importance to Louisville were the thousands of men and youth employed by the W.P.A. who cleaned up the city after the Ohio River receded -- hauling away, flushing away, and brushing away the debris, mud, and oil the 1937 Flood left behind, so that Louisville could return to normal.

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