“Just in Ohio, we saw over a quarter of a million
people being displaced by the flood. At
the time, Ohio had a population of around five million, so that is
statistically significant," says Jamison. "It was also
the final nail in the coffin for our canal systems, which were going downhill
anyway as the railroads were starting to take over. When this storm came, they had to dynamite a
number of the levees and locks, and that basically ended the canal system. It also led to the very first conservancy
watershed district in the country, and that was the result of this flood.”
The Miami Conservancy District was started in the late teen's and succeeded in greatly reducing flooding in western Ohio - especially in Dayton, which was considered the worst hit by the massive multistate flood.
One of many astonishing facts about the 1913 Flood: Every bridge on the Muskingum River, from Coshocton to Marietta, was destroyed.
Jamison says only the Johnstown, Pa., Flood of 1889 had more fatalities
from a flood event, and she says other weather casualties were more
localized than the 1913 Flood.
“Three state capitals were paralyzed for days. You had a major railroad shutdown, which at
the time was a major source of transportation. Commerce was stifled over the Ohio Valley for several days. The public outcry finally drew attention that
perhaps there should be more attention paid to flood control, flood mitigation,
and floodplain management.”
Jamison says that despite the enormous scale of the event, many
people outside the Ohio Valley don’t know much about it. The impacts of the 1913 Flood were not just felt in the Ohio Valley but worldwide, as shipments of industrial and agricultural products were interrupted for many days on the Ohio and for weeks on The Mississippi.