4. The 1913 Ohio floods across the state
The Great Flood of 1913 was the direct result of a weather event which created conditions along the lines of what later generations would call a perfect storm. Heavy rains created swollen rivers across the state of Ohio, in particular the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers north of Dayton, and the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers near Columbus. The Olentangy River reached flood stage first, followed by the Scioto, and the west side of the city of Columbus was under water on March 25, after the combined might of the flooded rivers collapsed the levees erected to contain them. Special trains were dispatched to nearby Buckeye Lake to retrieve excursion boats to be used for rescuing the survivors of the flood from rooftops and upper floors before the buildings were swept away. Further downriver in Chillicothe the Scioto cut itself a new channel, up to twelve feet in depth, down the center of the town’s Hickory Street.
Dayton was struck by the combined flooding of the Great Miami, Mad, and Stillwater Rivers, which inundated the city’s downtown area, causing massive destruction and deaths. From its location on the hills just south of the downtown area the National Cash Register Corporation was turned into a relief organization, building and operating rescue boats, its cafeterias feeding the survivors and its buildings serving as shelters and hospitals. The Miami and Erie Canal, an important part of Ohio’s economic history, was destroyed by the flooding in the Dayton region and to its south. More than 300 died in Dayton alone. The flooding of the rivers across the state, all of which eventually drained into the Ohio River, brought it to record flood levels, reaching 69 feet at Higginsport. About 430 people died as a result of the flooding across the state that March, though the exact number of dead has never been determined.