Flood of 1997
Flood of 1884
The 1884 flood was the century's biggest.
'Boys, the old gal is laid out there for your last look ... she won't be with us long.'
--Capt. Mackelfresh, of the steamboat City of Louisville, as the boat sank in the river, Feb. 1, 1918
'I was delirious, lying on my parents' couch in the living room screaming, "My store is in the water! My store is in the water!'' '
-Bill Okrent, a Northside shop owner, flood of 1937
'Everything I owned washed away. If I could find a place on higher ground and could afford it, I would go.'
-Myrtle Gross, Silver Grove, flood of 1964
'We can put three and four babies in one bed ... I'll miss my guess if there aren't a few born before this emergency is over.'
-Omar H. Caswell, Red Cross Shelter Director, flood of 1945

Infamous Floods

1773: First report of flooding at the site of Cincinnati. Indians mark the depth at 76 feet.

Jan. 18, 1789: The two-month-old settlement of Columbia on the Little Miami River is under water.


Rivers commanded respect
Eyewitness in 1832
The flood of '37
Photo gallery of '37
1811: Floods preceded the New Madrid earthquake, in the year that the first steamboat, the Orleans, came down the Ohio.

Feb. 18, 1832: 64 feet 93/4 inches: Cincinnati attorney Salmon P. Chase recorded the flood in his journal.

Jan. 22, 1862: 57 feet 21/2 inches: Floodwaters backed up to Cumminsville, and Spring Grove Avenue was under 4 feet of water.

Feb. 15, 1883: 66 feet, 5 inches : In Cincinnati, 350 homeless people found shelter in a Third Street schoolhouse. On the Licking River in Northern Kentucky, 1,700 barrels of whiskey were afloat after coming dislodged from a boat.

Feb. 14, 1884: 71.1 feet -- In what was the biggest flood of the century, flooded-out East End residents took shelter in abandoned railroad cars. Mount Washington and Newtown were cut off from the rest of the city.

Jan. 21, 1907: 65.2 feet -- The levee broke in Lawrenceburg, Ind., and the onslaught of water began. It took 750 workers to repair the breach. Aberdeen, Ohio, in Brown County, was cut off. Maysville, Ky., was reeling.

Jan. 14, 1913: 62.2 feet -- The Ohio River spread out 8 miles wide in the lowlands. Hundreds of families fled in the Mill Creek valley. A call went out for help to relieve ''great want and suffering.''

April 1, 1913: 69.9 feet -- Dayton, Ohio, was inundated by the waters of the Great Miami River. Hundreds of houses were washed away in Portsmouth, Ohio. A smallpox outbreak was reported in southeastern Indiana. At least 129 people were killed along the Ohio River. In Dayton, the number of dead totaled 454, with 40,000 left homeless.

Flood of 1918
Feb. 12, 1918: 61.8 feet -- Flood brought ice floes that smashed steamboat hulls.

March 21, 1933: 63.6 feet -- The dike held at Lunken Airport. But a five-story warehouse on Vine Street downtown didn't; it collapsed and others in the Bottoms area were threatened. Red Cross flood-relief stations were set up in Cumminsville, East End and Tower Hill (Roundbottom Road).

Jan. 26, 1937: 79.9 feet -- For 19 days -- from Jan. 18 until Feb. 5 -- the swirling, muddy waters of the Ohio leapt riverbanks and blanketed one-sixth of a city paralyzed by too much rain and snow. The river reached its highest-ever level in Cincinnati on this date. An estimated 100,000 people were left homeless. Local damage reached $20 million in 1937 dollars. In Ohio River towns from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Ill., 385 people were killed, 1 million were left homeless and property losses eclipsed the $500 million mark.

March 7, 1945: 69.2 feet -- The Mill Creek barrier dam failed, sending Ohio River water up the already flooded valley. Northern Kentucky counted 12,000 people homeless. Portsmouth fought a losing battle to erect a levee.

April 18, 1948: 64.8 feet -- West Newport prayed its 10-foot sandbag barrier would hold out. On old Front Street in Covington, water seeped into the second floor of homes. Water climbed to just a few feet below the Roebling Suspension Bridge.

March 3, 1955: 61 feet

1964 flood March 11, 1964: 66.2 feet -- Thousands of refugees fled flooded lowlands. At least 775 people spent the night in local shelters, and 110,000 were homeless in a five-state area. A house on Second Avenue in Dayton, Ky., caught fire and burned to the water line.

Jan. 24, 1996: 57.3 feet -- Hundreds were left homeless as parts of the region were thrown into a state of emergency. Hardest hit were Clermont County, Anderson Township and Cincinnati's east side. In Hamilton County, floodwater damaged at least 300 homes. In Clermont County, 84 homes were damaged.

March 5, 1997: 64.7 feet

-- Source: National Weather Service, Enquirer research

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