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March 23-27, 1913: Statewide Flood

The statewide extent of death and destruction in the Flood of 1913 exceeds all other weather events in Ohio history, justifying the title of “Ohio’s greatest weather disaster.” Rainfall over the state totaled 6-11 inches and no section was unaffected. The death toll was 467 and more than 40,000 homes were flooded.

At Dayton, the Great Miami River flooded 14 square miles of the city and water ran in swift currents 10 feet deep through downtown streets. The flood killed 123 people in Dayton. Downstream on the Miami River, there were about 100 deaths in Hamilton where water was 10 to 18 feet deep in residential areas. Approximately 100 died in Columbus when the Scioto River reached record levels and poured 9 to 17 feet deep through neighborhoods. Many Columbus residents escaped to the safety of rooftops and trees. Thirteen people were rescued from a single tree. Downstream, most of Chillicothe was under water.

The Muskingum River at Zanesville crested 27 feet above flood stage and water was 20 feet deep at several downtown intersections. Only the lampposts were visible on the famous Y-bridge. The Maumee River crested 10 feet above flood stage at Defiance where 268 homes were under water. Many people were rescued from rooftops and trees in Tiffin but 19 died when homes collapsed into the Sandusky River. The Cuyahoga River washed away docks, lumberyards, trains, and rail yards in Cleveland. Seven locks were dynamited on the Ohio Canal at Akron, allowing the floodwaters to pour into the Cuyahoga. Levees along the Ohio River at Portsmouth were topped, flooding 4,500 homes. The Ohio River at Cincinnati rose 21 feet in 24 hours. A system of flood control reservoirs was established by the Miami Conservancy District after the flood of 1913.


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