Recalling ‘greatest weather disaster’

THE RAINS came – and they kept coming for five consecutive days a century ago, resulting in what is called “Ohio’s greatest weather disaster,”

Information about the disastrous Flood of 1913, which caused the death of 467 persons and the destruction of around 20,000 homes, will be given Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. by Dr. Scott Pendleton at the Puskarich Public Library, Cadiz.

Pendleton is president of the Harrison County Historical Society. A native of Jefferson County, he is a veterinarian in Harrison County.

Sandi Thompson, library director, compared Pendleton’s memory to a tar pit, indicating that information going in never escapes.

Several communities in Harrison County were devastated by the flooding with Freeport and Scio being particularly hard hit. Thompson said photos related to the disasters in those areas are on the library’s Digital Shoebox.

Rivers and streams throughout the Buckeye State flooded because of the heavy rainfall of 8-11 inches during the five days in March 1913.

“The statewide extent of death and destruction in the Flood of 1913 exceeds all other weather events in Ohio, justifying the title of ‘Ohio’s greatest weather disaster,'” according to the Ohio History website.

More than 40,000 homes were flooded with approximately half of them destroyed. Flood damages were estimated to exceed $100 million.

In addition to the rains for five days, the ground already was soaked because of melting ice and snow.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports most telephone and telegraph lines were damaged by high winds and heavy ice during a winter storm earlier in the week, and warning about the unprecedented rain and imminent flooding was limited primarily to word-of-mouth, church bells and police sirens.

Fires occurred because of broken gas lines. In Dayton alone, a fire destroyed nearly two blocks of the city. Ohio Gov. James M. Cox called for militia law in that city, asking residents to stay home and cooperate wit the National Guard assisting with rescue and cleanup.

Those are only part of the disasters which occurred because of the flood affecting all parts of Ohio.

Pokas can be reached at