Historians have long argued about the total number of dead in the 1938 flood. Initial newspaper reports stated that 58 had perished. But some of the dead and missing turned out to be alive. Both the Santa Ana Register and Anaheim Bulletin had reduced the total to 21 by the time searchers found the last victim, Ydilfonso Agúndez, a month after the March 3 flood. A 1942 United States Department of the Interior study bumped the number up to 34.
No one will ever know the truth: Placentia resident Joe Aguirre remembers that many single male Mexican immigrants lived alongside the Santa Ana River banks, "and they just disappeared. No one ever asked for them."
The Weeklyexamined microfilm of every Orange County newspaper in 1938 and found 38 deaths attributed to the flood. The list:
• "unidentified young white girl," Anaheim
• "unidentified Mexican girl," Anaheim, 7
• "Mexican baby clasped to her mother's breast, both of them drowned and hanging to a barbed-wire fence," Anaheim