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Rain, flooding, storms and tornadoes swept the country

March 29, 2013
By Christian Hudspeth - The Marietta Times (chudspeth@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

States other than Ohio were hit hard by the severe weather and flooding during the natural disaster in 1913.

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Illinois, Nebraska, Indiana and other states across the country were all affected by flooding.

The flood waters from Ohio and other northern states went into the Mississippi River, but there wasn't as much damage because they had proper warning.

"People tend to forget this water went south down the Mississippi. It just took a much longer time than the flash floods that occurred in Ohio," said Trudy E. Bell, science and technology journalist. "The Navy actually sent boats down the Mississippi in order to warn people about the flood water coming, so they had time to get to safety."

This early warning allowed those located along bodies of water to evacuate, saving many lives.

This particular flood was the worst documented flood in both Ohio and Indiana, said Bell.

Fact Box

Damage in other states

States who were flooded along with Ohio included Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Mississippi.

The 1913 flood was Ohio and Indiana's worst documented flood in state history.

A series of 10 tornadoes hit Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana on Easter Sunday.

The worst tornado went through Omaha, killing more than 100 people and injuring 300 to 400 more.

256,000 people were rendered homeless across the country due to the storms and flooding.

Almost 1,000 people died nationwide due to the severe weather and flooding.

Source: Dennis Mihelich and Trudy Bell.

"As far as Indiana records go, we can say what minimums were because we have some sources, but much of the information is incomplete," said Bell. "It's frustrating because I've seen reports from Indiana that the death count was 40 or 50, which I don't believe to be true."

Bell said she has a hard time understanding how a neighboring state that was hit extremely hard could have more than a 500 person gap in death differential.

"I've seen a few other sources that try to be more realistic and say 150 or 200 died in Indiana," said Bell. "Without more sources or published reports, it really is hard to say just how many perished due to the flooding in the state of Indiana."

According to her, Ohio kept much more detailed records of the disaster compared to others surrounding the Buckeye State.

Along with the flooding, a series of tornadoes swept across the midwest, devastating several cities and serving as a precursor to the floods that would engulf states to the east.

"Around 6 p.m. Easter Sunday about 10 or so tornadoes ravaged Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana," said Bell. "Six of these tornadoes would be rated as an F4 on the Fujita scale which is only a grade lower than the most dangerous level."

In just a few hours on Easter, these twisters managed to kill almost 200 people, injure 850 more and destroy many homes and businesses, according to Bell.

Of these extremely dangerous F4 tornadoes, one in particular was the deadliest.

"The worst twister was the F4 that went northeast through Omaha," said Dennis Mihelich, a retired historian. "The tornado killed at least 100 people, injured around 300 to 400 others and destroyed hundreds of homes on its path of destruction."

It was the worst tornado ever recorded in Nebraska history, according to the National Weather Service Forecast Office.

It ravaged Omaha, sparing no class, with some of the largest homes in the city being completely destroyed.

Much of the death came in the northeast region of Omaha where immigrants were tightly packed together in sub par building conditions, according to Mihelich.

"Small homes with multiple families living there and bars with patrons stuffed inside led to many deaths when the tornado hit," he said. "I know of one instance where at least 20 people were killed when the tornado hit and wiped out a pool hall."

The tornado not only caused structural damage, but it also led to several fires in the community.

"The twister itself ruptured the manufactured gas lines in the area," said Mihelich. "About 40 or 50 fires broke out because of the rupture. Thankfully about 8 p.m. rain came to help put out the fires."

The flooding and severe weather would have made an enormous impact separately, but the fact that they occurred within a week of each other made their consequences even more historic.

"Close to 1,000 people died countrywide because of the flooding and tornadoes," said Bell. "At least 256,000 people were rendered homeless and another 300,000 depended upon relief supplies so they could eat."

 
 

 

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