: Photograph showing two young men helping an elderly woman cross floodwaters in Gambier, Ohio, January 21, 1959.
During the statewide flood of January 1959, rains of 3 to 6 inches produced the most destructive flooding in Ohio since March 1913. Soil frozen a foot deep was overlain by a snow cover. A band of heavy rain fell across central Ohio on the headwaters of many of the state’s largest rivers, causing the snow to melt, and with the ground frozen, nearly all of the water poured into streams. Streams reached flood stage from January 21 to 24, killing 16 people, forcing 49,000 from their homes, and causing extensive damage to homes, businesses, roads, and bridges.
The streets of Mansfield were under four feet of water, and industries were closed by floodwaters in Youngstown and Canton. Columbus was the most severely affected of Ohio’s major cities, with many streets flooded, 100 homes badly damaged, and 3,200 evacuees cared for at Red Cross shelters. One-third of Chillicothe was flooded when the Scioto River broke through a levee of sandbags. High water and ice jams on the Sandusky River flooded Upper Sandusky, Tiffin, and Fremont.
Despite its intensity, deaths and damage were not as great in 1959 as in the March 1913 flood. Following the destruction of 1913, flood-control reservoirs were built, and by 1959, there was better communication of warnings, more organized rescue work, and more adequate design of bridges and other structures. View on Ohio Memory.
: P339_B05F04_004 Subjects
: Floods--Ohio; Natural disasters; Climate and Weather; Rescue operations Places
: Gambier (Ohio); Knox County (Ohio)