Saturday, September 28, 2002

Hamilton flood

Great Miami River disaster of 1913 subject of new book

        While the remains of tropical storm Isidore dumped rain on Greater Cincinnati this week, people worried about possible flash flooding.

        But it was nothing compared with March 1913, when in three days 9 to 11 inches fell on already saturated ground and caused a flood that still lives in the lore of the Great Miami River in Butler County.

        On March 25, Hamilton was “in shambles and its citizens faced fear and uncertainty,” said Jim Blount, author of the new book Flood: March 1913, Butler County's Greatest Weather Disaster. “More than 10,000 people — nearly one out of three residents — were homeless as water invaded 75 percent of the city's homes, factories, schools, stores and the county's only hospital.”

        Two hundred people died in two days; another 85-100 died later from complications. On Garden Avenue, 15 members of an extended family died when their house was swept away by the current.

        In 48 hours, the Great Miami rose to an all-time high of 34.6 feet, swept away the iron High Street bridge and dumped hundreds of tons of mud into the city's streets.

        “The mud and debris smelled,” Mr. Blount said. “A survivor recalled, "I don't know if the sickening odor went away in a few weeks, or we gradually got used to it.' ”

        The flood, rated by meteorologists as Ohio's greatest weather disaster, killed 467 people across Ohio.

        “The emotional scars remained for a lifetime,” he said. “Terrifying flood memories caused people to turn their backs on the river. The Great Miami was feared — not seen as a useful resource — because of the tragic sequence that began March 25.

        “Nearly 90 years later, few people realize that the Miami Conservancy District, conceived and financed by citizens along the river as a reaction to the 1913 flood, served as the model for protection systems across the country.”

        Mr. Blount's book is a fascinating look at the disaster through 81 historic photographs (including a horse swimming down High Street), maps, narrative and newspaper accounts.

        He willl sign the book from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at The Books in Shandon, 4795 Cincinnati-Brookville Road (Ohio 126). It sells for $12.50, or may be purchased by mail for $14.

        Order from Past/Present/Press, 524 Shultz Drive, Hamilton, OH 45013-5107. Information: 863-7071.


        DEERFIELD TWP. — Mulder, are you free?

        The 39th annual National UFO Conference starts at 1 p.m. today at the Kings Island Resort and Conference Center.

        One guest, Maryland congressional candidate Stephen Bassett, is “the first person to ever appear on any national/gubernatorial ballot who speaks...of an extraterrestrial presence and the government-imposed embargo on the truth.”

        Other speakers include Donnie Blessing of the Mutual UFO Network, Rick Hilberg, editor of Flying Saucer Digest and the Weirdology newsletter; and Jerry Black, veteran UFO investigator.

        Information: UFO hot line, 588-4548.


        LAWRENCEBURG — To culminate the city's bicentennial, the Lawrenceburg Fall Fest will be noon to 11 p.m. today

        downtown with games, fireworks, carnival rides and craft and food booths.

        Dr. Hook will play from 6:45-8 p.m. and Steppenwolf from 9-10:30 today at High and Walnut streets.

        Information: 812-539-3113.


        BATAVIA — Linda Reiff and her dancers will peform in Once Upon An Attic at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Feb. 14,

        and 10 a.m. Feb. 15 in the Calico Theatre Season at UC Clermont College.

        A young girl investigates her grandmother's attic and finds the dances of the 20th century. The dance story performance includes ragtime, the Charleston, swing, jazz and modern dance.

        Admission: $5, adults; $3 students. Information: 732-5281.


        SHARONVILLE — A park naturalist will meet hikers at the Gorge Trail parking lot at 2 p.m. Oct. 14 to see the plants and animals in autumn.

        A similar hike will be held for children at 3 p.m. Oct. 17.

        The hikes are free but you must have a valid Hamilton County Park District motor vehicle permit to enter. Information: 521-7275, or visit

        Randy McNutt's community column appears on Saturday. Contact him at the Enquirer, 7700 Service Center Drive, West Chester OH 45069. Telephone: 755-4158. Fax: 755-4150. e-mail:



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