The 1913 Flood


The Anderson-Newcomb department store and the McCrory’s dime store
 were two of the 3rd Avenue businesses inundated by the 1913 flood.

File photo | The Herald-Dispatch


From the time the first settlers pushed into the Ohio River Valley, floods
 were an accepted fact of life. The valley’s early settlers were attracted
by its rich topsoil and the lush forests that covered its slopes.
 But by the 1880s, the farmer’s plow and the woodsman’s
 ax had removed much of that protective covering.

In 1884, the Ohio washed the unprotected topsoil downstream
 in a great flood. Some 2,000 homes along the river were
washed away on the crest of the floodwaters

Other floods followed. After each, people shoveled the mud out
 of their homes and businesses and set about rebuilding. But
 nothing before could have prepared residents and
businesses along the Ohio for
what happened in 1913.

In March of that year, it rained for five days over much of the
 Ohio Valley, and soon the Ohio River was rapidly rising.
On March 31, the river at Huntington crested at
66.4 feet, 16.4 feet above flood stage. The
city’s downtown was quickly inundated.

No local lives were lost but suffering was acute. Fuel, light and gas supplies
 were cut off and water mains were closed to keep out the river water.
More than 2,000 refugees were driven from their homes and
temporarily housed in schools, churches, City Hall and
even the City Jail. History notes that three babies
were born to mothers who had sought shelter
at Oley Elementary School.

In the wake of the 1913 flood, people took to calling it the
“granddaddy” of all floods. Little did they know that far
worse was ahead and would befall the city in 1937.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Nov. 28, 2023.


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