The residents of Harrison were awakened by sirens on a rainy Saturday night in May of 1961. The alarms that are usually associated with an approaching tornado were sounded to warn the residents about the quick rising of Crooked Creek that would result in a 12 foot high wall of water rolling through the downtown area. The force of the water was so powerful that homes, buildings and automobiles were tossed around and destroyed. Merchants and homeowners scrambled to get out of harms way. Many were trapped and had no choice but to head to the rooftops to escape the brutal force of the water. The downtown area was quickly taken over by the flash flood. Rescue efforts were able to save all but 4 of the citizens of the town as the levee was breached.
The catastrophic waves receded as quickly as they had arrived, and by 6 a.m. the water was gone, leaving a thick coat of mud behind. Some homes were knocked completely off of their foundations and pieces of the structures were found up to 2 miles away. Vehicles that were parked on the square were lifted and carried away, some never to be seen again. The clean up would be a vast undertaking for the city, and the people of Harrison joined together to repair damages. The National Guard and the Red Cross arrived to assist in the relief. Clean drinking water was brought in from neighboring communities and typhoid vaccinations were provided to protect people from becoming ill.
The destruction of this event would not be forgotten by the community. Less than 2 years after that fateful night, First National Bank president Rabie Rhodes commissioned Eureka Springs artist Louis Freund to paint a mural depicting the event in the bank.
Freund committed to the task but did not break out his brushes without doing extensive research. He and his wife Elsie committed to ensuring that the mural was an accurate presentation of that terrible night. The project was completed in 1965, and the mural has been on display in the bank building since then. Freund was able to use oil and linen to recreate the scene including the citizens that were involved. Eva Lee Cralle, a Harrison resident who was caught in the flood waters is shown clinging to a utility wire. Terry Pillow and his son, Eddie, are shown rescuing Ralph Cralle and his daughter Karen. Mayor Bob Reynolds is shown on the rooftop while the floodwaters fill the building below him. The mural captures a moment in time and leaves the viewer with a sense of the distress the people of Harrison endured during this tragedy. The mural is still on display in the old bank building located at 200 East Rush.
Freund has completed many works depicting life in the Ozarks. He has another mural of Boone County scenes located in the John Paul Hammerschmidt Conference Center at North Arkansas College that brings the past to life, and his works are found in many post offices in the area.