Events to mark 1913 flood centennial
The centennial of the 1913 flood will be commemorated with two free events on Monday, March 25.
At 10 a.m., a cast-metal historical plaque will be unveiled near the west bank of the Olentangy River beside the pedestrian path between William and Winter streets. City officials, members of the Delaware County Historical Society and St. Mary School students will be on hand for the dedication.
“The Great Flood of 1913: Could It Happen Again?” will be presented at 7 p.m. in Willis Intermediate School, 74 W. William St. Delaware Lake Resource Manager Ben O’Dell will discuss flood control and how water levels at Delaware Dam are handled.
Historical Society President Brent Carson will show pictures of the flood and share information from newspapers of the time.
In addition, he will show video clips of flood survivors’ memories that were recorded around the 75th anniversary of the disaster, but have never been seen before.
“I was so fortunate I was part of this 25 years ago,” Carson said.
“We brought together members of the community who could still remember it, and we put them on tape. We have some great stories that some of them told of the flood.”
According to the city, the flood on March 25, 1913, was the worst natural disaster in both the state of Ohio and Delaware city. Statewide, 428 people were killed and more than 20,000 homes were destroyed. Carson said the flood also hit Columbus and Dayton hard. In Delaware, 18 died and 60 structures were affected when heavy rains caused the Olentangy to rise to 32 feet, or 23 feet above flood stage. The Central Avenue, William Street and Winter Street bridges were swept away, along with the Big Four railroad bridge.
Carson said a 100 years ago, flooding in the area was much more common because there was no dam on the Olentangy River.
“Many people living close to the river did not leave their homes, thinking, ‘We had the flood before. It wasn’t that bad. We’ll wait it out,’” Carson said. “I think today that reaction would be different.”
In addition to the March 25 events, Carson will lead “flood walks” at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. on March 30 and April 6; and at 2 and 4 p.m. April 7.
The walks begin and end at the Society’s Cryder Historical Center, 157 E. William St., and visit the east side and downtown areas hit hardest by the flood.
The city said some temporary markers will be placed to indicate the water depths from the flood.
Each tour is limited to 30 people and reservations are required.
Tickets for the walk are $10; or $5 for children and students through college; and $20 per family. For more information, call 740–369-3831 or visit delawareohiohistory.org.