The GREAT FLOOD OF 1913 began on March 21, 1913 when massive wind and ice storms began to hit the Midwest followed by deadly tornadoes. The storms immediately knocked out the power and telephone lines at the Cleveland NWS station. Within five days, the storms had dropped an equivalent of a quarter’s year of rainfall on Ohio, nearly 11 inches. Flooded rivers and streams began overtaking cities and towns in Ohio, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton. Products held in lumberyards, docks, and businesses in the FLATS were washed out into lake Erie by the flooded CUYAHOGA RIVER. Factories and streetcar and rail service were shut down throughout the city. The steamship William H. Mack broke loose from its mooring in the Cuyahoga River, and then hit Third Street bridge knocking it off its pier and destroying it.  On March 25, the CLEVELAND NEWS headline read “City is Flood-Bound-Many Lives Are Lost throughout Ohio.” Newspaper accounts from the time reported that “the rescue of twenty-seven men, women, and children marooned under the Denison Harvard Bridge.” The floods ended up damaging the OHIO AND ERIE CANAL beyond repair. As it had no longer been used for transportation, there was no attempt made to rebuild the canal. This ended the canal era in Ohio. The damage from the storms and flooding was along the lines of something never seen before in Ohio. Property damage was estimated to be over $100 million dollars and 467 Ohioans lost their lives. As of 2020 the Flood of 1913 remains as the greatest weather event recorded in Ohio.

Vinod Sardesai

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