Xenia, OH Storms And Flooding, May 1886

THE CYCLONE -- DESTRUCTION OF LIFE AND PROPERTY.

GREATEST SIMILAR CALAMITY EVER KNOWN IN OHIO.

THIRTY DEAD BODIES RECOVERED IN XENIA.

HOW WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S STORM SWEPT OVER THE MIAMI VALLEY -- DESTRUCTION AT XENIA, DAYTON AND SPRINGFIELD AND THE SURROUNDING REGION.

Cincinnati, May 13. -- The storm of last night, which did fearful work at Xenia, O., was far reaching. It is heard of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and at Winchester, Va. Here there has been an unusual electrical disturbance for the past three nights. On Monday night there was almost uninterupted lightning from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday night a similar condition existed, accompanied by heavy rains and hail, the latter of very narrow range. Last night there was another electrical storm with wind, rain and hail. The Xenia storm, however, was much more furious. The counties of Montgomery, Clark, Butler, Warren and Green lie adjacent in Ohio, and form an elevated plateau with but shallow valleys and low hills. In these counties are the towns of Dayton, Springfield, Hamilton, Lebanon and Xenia. In the eastern county of Indiana adjoining this district is Connersville. At all of these places the rain of last night was of the heaviest volume ever known. Dayton measured 4 1/2 inches in three hours. Xenia was situated so as to meet the worse results. Shawnee creek traverses a portion of the city adjacent to the Little Miami road, which lies lower than the main portion of the city. The railroad embankment rises above the general level and the stream flows through it in a large culvert. Last night's rainfall was entirely too much for the capacity of that culvert. The water rose and at last swept away the embankment and with accumulated force rushed upon the small cottages located on the low banks and without warning bore them from their foundations. At Sprinfield the flood was of nearly equal volume, but the drainage was better. East High street bridge was undermined and is in a mass of ruins. In the eastern and southeastern portions of the city many families were driven from their homes by the increasing flood. Dozens of bridges over the streams were washed away. The losses can not be estimated, but will be exceedingly heavy. At Lebanon the Methodist Episcopal church, the Lebanon house, grist mill, warehouse and several residences were unroofed and shade trees were ruined. Nearly every railroad across the state was crippled and some will require several days for repairs.
The most serious damage to railroads by last night's storm fell upon the Little Miami road. From Corwin to London, a distance of forty miles, eight bridges are gone and the track is a series of small and great washouts. Fortunately the Muskingum Valley road is intact and the Little Miami trains can use it for through traffic and for reaching Columbus.
The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton road has two bridges out, one at Carrollton and one at Miamisburg, but it can use the Bee Line Track to Dayton. The washouts on the Bee Line are beyond Dayton.

THE TERRIBLE DEVASTATION AT XENIA.
Xenia, O., May 14. -- The most destructive effects of the great cyclone of Wednesday night seemed to have been centered in this city and vicinity. After the waterspout burst through the railroad embankment the water swept down upon the homes of the poor people of that neighborhood with a rush. Houses were picked up as if they were egg shells and carried in this mad rush of water until they were dashed to pieces against bridge abutments and whatever they might come in contact with.
No part of the city escaped the unprecedented fall of water, but the greatest destruction of life and property occurred in the locality here named.
It is impossible to give even an approximate estimate of the destruction of property, but it will certainly count up in the millions.
The loss of life is appaling to contemplate. Whole families were swept away with their houses. Thirty dead bodies have been recovered from the debris, and it is thought that some ten or twelve are still missing.
Many people are left entirely destitute and are pitiable objects of charity.

Newark Daily Advocate Ohio 1886-05-14

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IN THE SWATH OF DEATH.

A HARVEST OF HORRORS GLEANED FROM MANY FIELDS.

ONE HUNDRED HOUSES SWEPT AWAY AT XENIA, OHIO -- THIRTY LIVES LOST IN THE DELUGE AND DEBRIS -- TERRIBLE CALAMITIES -- THE DEAD AND DYING -- CASUALTIES.

Xenia, O., May 14. -- A terrible water spout struck the southeast part of town and followed the course of the Shawnee Run, which was swollen in a few moments so as to completely inundate all the banks and streets sweeping away or totally ruining more than 100 houses. Many more were swept down the current with families in them. One of them, that of AARON FERGUSON, contained nine persons, six of his own family and three of JOHN BURCH'S, who had fled there for safety. A man named EARBOX risked his life by throwing himself into the current, and floating against the house, who, with a rope in his hand, succeeded in saving the inmates of the house by means of a boat.
Twenty-two dead bodies have been taken out of the stream, and are now lying in the mayor's office, and many more are supposed to be lost. The Pan-Handle raiilroad, including its embankments is a total wreck in this entire vicinity. The greatest excitement prevails, and their buildings are surrounded by crowds, anxious to view the remains of the dead. Many harrowing stories are narrated. A family named MORRIS was floated away in their house and drowned, except a youngster about seven years old, who was found this morning clinging to a tree.

Later. -- The day was hotter than the average mid-summer day. There was a peculiar breathlessness about the heat which made it almost impossible to pursue one's daily vocations. The sun set amid angry and threatening clouds in whose dark bosom flashed incessantly the lurid lightning. As darkness drew on the clouds gathered darker and deeper, and the glare of lightning became one continuous awful glare.
At half-past 8 thre was a brief cessation in the lightening and an ominous quiet succeeded. The awful gloom now and then lighted by a momentary gleam of lightning had a peculiar tint of green as if an ocean hung overhead.
So overwhelming was the sense of impending danger that men, women and children ran from house to house, seeking that blind feeling of security which lies in huddled numbers.
Shortly before 9 o'clock the bottom of the ocean overhead dropped out and the water fell in a solid body, whelming everything beneath it. All in ten minutes did the damage, and then followed the flood in Shawnee run, under a continuous downpour, which lasted till nearly midnight.
The scene in the innundated district beggars description. It is swept clean and ruin reigns supreme.
Thirty dead bodies are now reported and the search is still going on.

The Newark Daily Advocate Ohio 1886-05-15