By Sunday, January 15, 1950, the Wabash River flood that had dominated life in Vincennes since the start of the year was reaching a critical stage. Early predictions had called for a 28-foot-high crest at Vincennes. Those predictions were then modified downward as levees upstream broke. Heavy rains over the Wabash Valley on that Sunday, again sent the water level higher, creating a desperate situation.
Members of the national guard, the Vincennes Street Department, ordinary citizens, and Vincennes high school boys were sandbagging. Soldiers from Fort Knox, Kentucky were constructing mud boxes atop the floodwall, the latter expected to withstand a crest of 28 feet. If the wall didn’t hold, major parts of the city would be flooded.