1913 Flood in Tiffin Revisited: Part 1


The following is an excerpt from the two-time award-winning book "Calamity and Courage" available at virginalleypress.com

From the author: "It was 102 years ago this week that Ohio was rocked by the worst natural disaster in its history. Throughout the week I will be offering excerpts from my book about the horrific trials Tiffinites experienced — often in their own words — that fateful, deadly week."

March 24, 1913

Tiffin Fire Chief Albert Harris was growing increasingly frustrated. Earlier that evening he had sent evacuation orders to the residents in the low-level neighborhood of Mechanicsburg — the area encompassing Front, Charlotte, Union, Russell, Martha and Ella streets. Although some of those residing there complied, many didn’t believe the raging waters would rise more than a few feet …

But in just a few hours, the river had burst from its banks with such an explosive force, it was lapping at the second-story windows in the houses there. Many of the smaller homes were submerged to the point that only the rooftops could be seen above the barbaric current.

Father north, the Market Street bridge was taking quite a pounding. The frenzy of the rapids had stripped away much of its flooring, and by 8 p.m., it was completely closed …

(Earlier in the day) over on 51 St. Clair St., not far from the Market Street bridge, Charlie Beck’s family was keeping a watchful eye on the Sandusky. At the time, Charlie’s daughter, Catherine, was 11 years old. In 1988, (she) recounted those initial, exciting hours:

“Nobody thought too much about the seriousness of the water coming up … My sister, Elma, was entertaining a club here — a group of girls. Everybody got involved in carrying the canned fruit and things upstairs from the basement to the first floor. Then the girls would run down to the field to put stakes in to see how fast the water was coming up. Oh, they had a grand time. It was entertainment.”

That entertainment was about to become high drama …

© 2015 Virgin Alley Press. No part of this text can be reproduced without permission from the author.

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