Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The 1913 flood

In Ft. Loramie flood waters took out the aquaduct and water was up to the swing bridge at Elm St. Mrs. Mary Fortman who lived just south of where the golf course is now said the water was up to their garden and they could take a boat and row all the way to Ft. Loramie 2 miles away.

According to Scott Trostel in his book, "water in the Loramie Reservoir had risen so rapidly that the feeder was overflowing by four feet. There was a growing fear the bulkhead on the west end of the reservoir would let go. Mr. J. Pauwell, caretaker at the reservoir engaged a large number of men, estimated at between 50 and 60, to fill sacks with sand and dirt which was used to reinforce the levee bank. Their work was dangerous and they were in peril of being swept into flood waters at any moment. It was said that had this precaution not been taken there was not the least doubt that the whole bank in the vicinity of the feeder would have been washed away and probably the larger part of Fort Loramie would have been drowned with water."

There was flooding from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh and north to Lima and south to the Ohio River but the towns that suffered most were Dayton, Piqua and Troy.

The flooding was caused by 3 days of rain from March 21 to 24th. Easter Sunday was March 23. 8 to 11 inches of rain fell on the Great Miami River watershed. The ground was frozen and saturated resulting in 90% runoff.

In Dayton flood waters reached 20 feet in the downtown. Wikipedia says 360 people died, 20,000 houses were destroyed and damage reached 100 million dollars. The National Guard was unable to reach the town for days. Houses floated away with people on the roofs.

In Piqua 39 people died. 17 died in Troy. In Sidney the Big 4 bridge was in danger of floating away. A train was pulled onto it to hold it down.

Towns were isolated. Trains didn't run. Roads were closed. Bridges were washed out. Newspapers couldn't publish. People had no heat or food.

The flood effectively put an end to the canal and gave birth to the Miami Conservancy District.

For thrilling stories of rescues and photos see Scott Trostel's book, "And Through The Black Night of Terror". Some of it is on line.

The Great Dayton Flood, Wikipedia