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Matamoras Minute: Flood relief

The initial trip from Matamoras to Marietta to help in relief of the March 1913 flood found the situation to be more dire than originally indicted. The packet boat, Evelyn, on her return to Matamoras received another load of cargo and headed downriver again.

This time additional volunteers joined the transit. The incentive of those traveling was twofold. One was to aid in relief and the other was based on the concern about family members and acquaintances who had moved to Marietta.

All the way down the river the relief committee found devastation: at Beavertown, Newport, Saint Marys, and numerous small crossroads along the way. At Beavertown residents had managed to land ten houses by dragging them out of the waters as they swept past.

Describing what they found at Marietta, editor Lew Sharp of the Matamoras Enterprise wrote, “Words fail to express the situation…the water was nearly up to the second story of the court house. The two bridges that span the Muskingum River at Marietta, a railroad bridge and a wagon bridge, are both gone. The mud in some of the houses on the West Side was seven inches deep.”

He also wrote, “The Marietta Chair Company and saw mill, which stood at the foot of SacraVia Street is a complete loss, although men employed by the company are hoping to recover much valuable lumber from the plant. Hundreds of houses have toppled over; some of them are completely wrecked.”

After the relief boat returned and people shared with those who had not traveled to Marietta how extensive the loss was, the citizens of town realized their blessings.

The ministers of the churches in town called for a communal thanksgiving service. Held at the Baptist Church to maximum capacity extemporaneous speeches were given by those who were on the relief boat in witness to the suffering they encountered. An additional gathering of funds was conducted and speedily sent to Marietta.

For months articles appeared in the Matamoras Enterprise of the clean up that was conducted. Paint was sold as fast as it was restocked.

Painters of town had contracts lined up for months in advance.

Building and remodeling projects were underway throughout town. Retaining walls and foundations rose from the locations where others had been carried away.

And more floods were to come.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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