Some consider the Flood of 1913 the worst natural disaster in Ohio history. A series of storms dumped anywhere from 7 to 11 inches of rain on Ohio over a three day period.
Warnings were hard to distribute because telegraph lines had been brought down by a wind storm and ice storm just days before the flood.
428 people were known to have died in the flood. Other estimates put the number as high as 467. Statewide there were more than 20,000 homes destroyed and over 40,000 homes damaged. Damage estimates were put at $300 million in 1913 money.
The worse of the flooding hit Dayton where nearly half of the city was under water. 123 people were killed in that city alone. 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. All three downtown bridges over the Scioto River collapsed in the flood isolating the west side. Many people were forced to escape to the safety of rooftops and trees. Thirteen people were rescued from a single tree. Downstream, most of Chillicothe was under water.
"In 1913 in Chillicothe only one third of the houses had indoor plumbing. People were using cisterns, vaults and outhouses. This led to problems after the flood because they were swept into the river," said Tom Reider, an archivist at the Ohio Historical Society.
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.
In northwest Ohio, the Maumee River crested 10 feet above flood stage at Defiance where 268 homes were under water. 23 people died there. 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.
The Ohio National Guard implemented Marshal Law in Zanesville and Dayton for three weeks after the flood.
After the flood, a system of flood control reservoirs was established by the Miami Conservancy District in Dayton. Dams were added to the Scioto River in Columbus as well.