WATCH: The Great Flood of 1913, in the words of a survivor

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

On March 23, 1913, Easter Sunday, rain began to fall in the Miami Valley and didn’t stop for five days. The rivers began to rise, and kept rising, breaching the levees and causing massive floods over a dozen feet deep in Dayton. The National Weather Service estimated between 98 and 123 people died.

ExplorePHOTOS: Postcards from the Great Dayton Flood of 1913

Following the flood, survivors wrote to friends and family assuring them that they were safe and describing the ruin.

One writer was Amos Crow, who operated a restaurant and wholesale store in downtown Dayton at the time of the flood. Excerpts of a letter he wrote to his parents in Van Wert on April 5, 1913 described the flood and aftermath, and were printed in a 1993 Dayton Daily News column by Roz Young.

A recording of these excerpts is available in the video above, along with a photos from the time of the flood. A written version is included below.

ExplorePHOTOS: See how the Flood of 1913 devastated Dayton

This is the most awful sight I ever saw and do not care to see another soon. We have been living very slim since the flood but are glad to get anything.

We look around and see people in worse shape than we are. We saved everything at home but lost the wholesale place and the restaurant. The walls all washed away from the building we are in.

Our horses have drowned. We had them in a livery barn close to the wholesale house. There were about 100 horses in the barn. I saw one horse hanging by the heels on a guy wire with just his head touching the ground.

People climbed up trees and stayed there for 48 hours in all that rain and sleet without shelter or drink. The water was 13 feet deep on my restaurant floor.

I saw houses go down the river and people on top of them.

It is now 10:00 p.m. I am on police duty. I have charge of a large department store from 6 at night until 6 tomorrow morning. I have five floors to look after and I made a round all over the store every hour. There are no stores closed up as all the windows are broken and a great amount of goods washed away.

The floor is covered with about 6 inches of sticky and oily mud. You cannot imagine the conditions. We read about floods in the paper but do not realize what it is until we see some of the real thing.

I do not think the dead will reach over 400. There were about 1,400 horses drowned. It would be impossible to estimate the amount of damage done here. The fire burned about one and a half blocks in the business parts besides a great many in the residential parts. Three paint stores burned, Barrets, where I used to work, Lowe Brothers and Irvins, all were swept by fire when the water was 12 to 14 feet on the street.

I had two families in my house for several days. There were 20 of us in all.


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