Flood anniversary commemorated with library discussion

By Wayne Allen

January 18, 2014

By Wayne Allen


Dr. John Lorentz is known for a number of things; one of those things is producing the documentary “River Voices,” which is about the 1937 flood that changed the course of history for Portsmouth. The anniversary of the flood is upcoming and Lorentz has partnered with the Portsmouth Public Library to hold a presentation on the effects of the flood.

“The library has asked be speak on the anniversary of the (19)37 flood, which is Jan. 21. That’s when the water entered the city. This year marks the 77th anniversary,” Lorentz said.

Lorentz said during presentation he will show a little bit of “River Voices.”

“I will talk in detail about the situation in (19)37 and how the city responded. I will likely talk about how the flood wall that exists today was built as a response to the 1937 flood,” Lorentz said.

Lorentz and his son Nathan, of Lorentz Productions, produced the film “Beyond These Walls,” a documentary about the Portsmouth floodwall murals. John Lorentz said the film is about building community through public art.

“It tells a story in which the major theme is the role that public art has to play in developing a sense of community. We’re really looking at is the interaction of the community and viewers with the wall,” John Lorentz said. “Part of that story is how did this (Portsmouth Murals) come into creation. How do you take a blank piece of concrete and turn it into something beautiful that people react to and are connected to in someway?”

Lorentz said the flood and the results from it have defined this community.

“It all goes back to the fact that we’re a river city. One of the things I will talk about during the presentation is the idea of the river as both friend and foe. It’s is the life blood of the community and is the reason the community came into existence,” Lorentz said. “The river has always been very important in the life of the community. The community owes its existence to it’s location on the river.”

The presentation will take place at the main branch of the Portsmouth Public Library at 6 p.m. on Jan. 21. For more information call 740-354-5688.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT