Flood Disaster Strikes Cincinnati

Once upon a time, in the heartland of Ohio, a devastating natural disaster struck the city of Cincinnati, forever etching itself into the annals of history. The year was 1937, and the mighty Ohio River, normally a peaceful waterway, surged forth with unyielding force, inundating the city and its residents with a catastrophic flood.

The Cincinnati flood of 1937 was caused by a combination of heavy rainfall and rapid snowmelt. In January of that year, a series of severe winter storms swept through the region, leaving the ground saturated. Then, a sudden warm spell arrived, melting the accumulated snow at an alarming rate. As the Ohio River and its tributaries swelled beyond their banks, Cincinnati found itself at the mercy of a raging torrent.

The flood brought about a series of extraordinary events and fascinating facts, forever etching this disaster into the collective memory of those who lived through it:

  1. The Great Flood: The Cincinnati flood of 1937 is often referred to as “The Great Flood” due to its unprecedented scale. It remains one of the most severe natural disasters in the history of the United States, affecting not only Cincinnati but also vast portions of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
  2. The City of Seven Hills Underwater: Approximately 70% of Cincinnati was submerged by the floodwaters, transforming the city into an eerie, waterlogged landscape. The iconic landmarks and bustling streets of Cincinnati became unrecognizable, as homes, businesses, and entire neighborhoods were swallowed by the relentless deluge.
  3. Floating Coffins: As the floodwaters surged, countless caskets and vaults were dislodged from their resting places in Cincinnati’s cemeteries. These “floating coffins” became a haunting sight, drifting through the city streets, reminding survivors of the immense tragedy that unfolded.
  4. Heroic Rescues: Despite the devastation, countless acts of heroism emerged from the flood waters. Citizens banded together, forming rescue teams to save stranded individuals and animals. The United States Army, Coast Guard, and local authorities deployed boats and even makeshift rafts to pluck desperate survivors from rooftops and upper floors.
  5. Radio Waves of Hope: During the flood, WLW, a Cincinnati-based radio station, played a vital role in keeping the community informed and connected. Broadcasting from the rooftop of the Crosley building, the station relayed crucial updates on water levels, rescue operations, and relief centers. This act of communication amidst chaos served as a beacon of hope for those isolated by the floodwaters.

The Cincinnati flood of 1937 brought immeasurable destruction and hardship, displacing thousands and causing an estimated $500 million in damages (equivalent to $9.3 billion today). However, it also revealed the resilience and compassion of humanity in the face of adversity. The city rebuilt itself, learning from the catastrophic event to implement better flood control measures, ensuring such devastation would not befall them again.

To learn more about the Cincinnati flood of 1937, please visit the following links:

  1. The 1937 Cincinnati Flood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh8QbXRCo88
  2. Ohio History Central: Great Flood of 1937: https://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Great_Flood_of_1937
  3. Cincinnati Museum Center: The Great Flood of 1937: https://www.cincymuseum.org/1937-3/
  4. Cincinnati Public Library: The Great Ohio River Flood of 1937: https://digital.cincinnatilibrary.org/digital/collection/p16998coll12/id/11820
  5. Smithsonian Magazine: How Cincinnati Survived the Great Ohio River Flood of 1937: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-cincinnati-survived-great-ohio-river-flood-1937-180962048/