Sunday, January 26, 2003

Ohio Moments

Queen City resembled Venice in Flood of '37

On Jan. 26, 1937 the Ohio River reached 79.9 feet in Cincinnati - the highest ever. Overburdened by rain and snowmelt, the river leapt its banks Jan. 18 and covered one-sixth of the city. The waters didn't fall below flood stage until Feb. 5.

Two days before the river crested, at least 10 massive gasoline tanks exploded - causing fires on the Ohio River and in the Mill Creek. The city's power plant was shut down, and some people left without electricity had to rely on candles or lanterns for light. That day became known as "Black Sunday."

With no running water, people filled buckets from ponds and springs. The Milling Machine Co. was converted to a water-boiling plant. The only travel between many neighborhoods was by boat. An estimated 100,000 local people were left homeless, and property damage in the city alone reached $20 million.

- Rebecca Goodman

More on the '37 flood

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