Cincinnati, OH Flood, Feb 1883
A Rise Above All Record-The Damage Expressed in Millions.
Cincinnati, February 11.-The city is in consternation on account of the great rise in the Ohio River and what is expected to come. The water had reached sixty-one feet two and a half inches at 3:30 o’clock this afternoon, and was rising at the rate of two inches per hour. Desperate efforts are being made to save merchandise in the lower part of the city. Advices from above indicate that a heavy rise is still coming.
Cincinnati, February 11.-Prominent businessmen here, who are not sensational, say to-night the damage from the present overflow of the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Newport and Covington will amount to millions of dollars. The water at 7 o’clock this evening is 61 feet 8 inches high, and is rising nearly two inches hourly. Thousands of people crowd all bridges, watching the river. A rise of three feet more is expected. All transfer wagons in the city are engaged in removing goods from danger. The suspension bridge is lined with wagons taking leaf tobacco over to Covington. The water through which they pass in going to the suspension bridge is over their axles. Passengers between Covington and Cincinnati are compelled to cross the water at the Cincinnati approach to the suspension bridge in boats or vehicles. At the present rate of rise passage to the bridge by vehicles will soon be impossible. Steam ferry and street railroad communication between here and the Kentucky side of the river is cut off entirely. The Cincinnati approach to the Newport bridge was free at 8 o’clock, but in danger. In Newport the military barracks are flooded and nearly two square miles of the city is under water. The people have been taking coal and provisions in boats all day to the inhabitants, and delivering them through the second and third stories. All houses and factories along the river front at Covington are clouded and the water is in the second story of some of them. Nearly ten miles of the river front in Cincinnati is more or less under water. The flood extends on Ninth Street and Second Street to Pearl Street, filling all cellars along to the landing. The flood is up to the second and third stories of many buildings. The roof of a big wharf boat, viewed from the suspension bridge, looks nearly as high as the roofs of five story houses on the public landing.
All public railway freight business and nearly all express business West and North has been stopped. The Ohio and Mississippi railroad transfers passengers by omnibus four miles down the river, and thence by steamer makes connection with Aurora, Ind. The Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago [illegible] the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton lines to reach its own lines in Indiana. The Cincinnati, Washington and Baltimore go out from the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton depot. If the present rate of rise continues all these lines will have to transfer at Cumminnsville tomorrow. The Little Miami division of the Pittsburg, Cincinnati and St. Louis and all roads south of the river remain intact and are likely to continue so.
Cincinnati, February 11.-At West End the people are trying to save cattle from the inundated pens. The difficulty is very great, as boats here have been employed and the cattle must be led out one by one. They often get frightened, break away and go back into their pens. All of Mill Valley for miles north of the Ohio is a broad sea. In the city, from Pearl Street down to the river front, the greatest activity and excitement prevails. The fire department is pumping out the Pearl street cellars, to enable the merchants to save their goods. The river, this morning, invaded a house adjacent to the suspension bridge where unslacked lime was stored, along with quantities of resin. The heat from the lime set the resin on fire. Engines have been at work on this fire all day. It continues obstinate, but not violent. On Walnut Street to Fourth, the entire sidewalks are covered with packages of sugar and groceries which have been hastily removed from the cellars and the work of removal continues to-night as far as men can accomplish it. The damage to goods in cellars on Pearl Street is much feared. The Cincinnati stock yards are flooded, and stock trains cannot move in any direction. All business will be suspended until after the danger is passed. At 8:30 to-night it was expected every minute that the gaslights would be extinguished. Only a few inches more of rise will bring about this result. The belief is now that the rise will not stop under sixty-three feet, which would be the highest on record.
At 9 o’clock the gas-works were submerged, and there is only enough gas to last through the night. The pressure is so weak that the gas will not burn in many places. The water supply also is in danger, only one engine at the pumping works being able to work. Its capacity at the last trial was ten million gallons per day, while the daily consumption is sixteen million gallons. It will require a rise of four feet more to disable this one engine. The coal fleets are believed to be safe. The weather is still warm and the snow is melting. Occasionally there is a light rain. Advices from above indicate that the rise will continue at least twenty-four hours. The Commercial Gazette’s specials report three inches of rain at Parkersburg, and the river rising. The Little Kanawha is rising an inch hourly. At Marietta two and one-half inches of rain has fallen and the river is rising slowly. At Portsmouth a heavy rain prevailed for twenty-four hours, ending at noon to-day. At Pittsburg it is raining and the weather being warm the snow is melting and the river is rising. At Marysville the water is rising two and one-half inches per hour, and, many business houses have their cellars flooded. The excitement here tonight continues. The stage of water is taken half hourly and bulletined at the newspaper offices. Crowds are still going to the water’s edge, where workmen are busy removing goods. No services were held in some of the churches tonight on account of the failure of the gas supply.
Macon Weekly Telegraph, Macon, GA 13 Feb 1883
Flood And Disaster.
Many Lives Reported Lost
By the Destruction of a Depot at Cincinnati and the Collapse of a Dike at Louisville.
The swollen waters of the Ohio which have been steadily rising at Cincinnati and Louisville above the danger line (50 feet above low-water mark) have reached 5 feet 1 inch above that point. The powerful torrent forced the dike at Louisville Monday night and swept irresistibly over a large and populous section of the city overthrowing or crushing many houses and driving the bewildered citizens from their homes through darkness to safe heights. It is reported and believed that at least 30 lives were lost, but this is mere conjecture, and while but few are missing or known to have been, may have been caught in the mad torrent. At Cincinnati a freight depot, undermined by the water, gave way yesterday under a crowd of people, estimated at 50, and it is thought that 25 at least were engulfed by the flood. This, too, is conjecture, there being hardly a certainty that even a half dozen lost their lives, while it is possible that very many more than 25 were drowned. In both cities there is great distress. Thousands of people are homeless, naked and hungry and prompt measures are being taken to give them relief. Distress and loss of property are also reported from many places in Indiana. The signal service bureau reported from Washington at 1 this morning that the water was stationary at Cincinnati at a point 10 inches higher than any previous record, and rising at all points below that city. It has reach the danger line at Cairo and the Cumberland has reached the same point at Nashville. Light rains were reported from the Ohio Valley, and a great rain-storm central in western Kansas from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Dakota.
The Reports From Cincinnati.
The Northern Railroad freight depot in the western part of Cincinnati was undermined by the flood there yesterday and sank under the water, carrying, one report says, a great crowd of people with it. Mo one knows how many, if any, of the crowd were drowned. The people were watching the torrent when, suddenly, Ryan’s Restaurant, a small building near by, went down. The crowd rushed over on the platform of the depot to see what was the matter, when the whole depot collapsed and sank in the water. The track was at the same time depressed, and the cars standing close ran into a depression, covering the people who had gone down with the falling structure. It was claimed to be certain last night that three boys, two freight handlers and four members of Coup’s circus were drowned. No bodies have yet been recovered. The names of the members of Coup’s circus reported missing are Harry Carlond of England, Fanny Reindof of New York, William F. Franklin and William C. Matthews of St. Louis. It appears certain that the disaster was caused by the breaking of the great sewer. A late dispatch says, however, that there is strong ground for hope that the disaster was not attended with great loss of life. The baggage master says there were a great number of people on the platform, and that at least 25 went down in the water. All the other persons present saw no one in the water and believe no one was lost; but they all admit that there was great alarm and a hurried flight, so that people might have been engulfed and not seen by those fleeing.
A bill was passed by the Ohio Legislature yesterday authorizing Cincinnati to borrow $100,000 to be used in relieving the flood sufferers. Much sickness is found among the imprisoned people in the tenement houses there. Relief boats were busy visiting all such places yesterday. Ample means were at hand to prevent suffering. It is estimated that from 30,000 to 40,000 workmen are out of employment by the closing of the different manufactories. Telegrams have been received from Chicago, New York and elsewhere offering aid. No estimate of the damage can be made. Cincinnati people talk only of millions.
Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA 14 Feb 1883
Damage By The Floods
The Loss To Cincinnati Alone Millions Of Dollars.
The Waters Receding And All Danger From The Floods Passed-Progress Of The Aid To The Sufferers.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. 20.-The flood has now receded to such an extent that a majority of the buildings which were inundated are now once more surrounded by dry land. The cellars continue full of water, which causes the buildings to remain damp and the injury to goods to some extent still continues. The estimates of direct damage range from the value of rickety furniture of a poor family up to $80,000 and $40,000. The majority of losses are between $500 and $10,000. This refers to damaged stocks and furniture only. The number of such losses in Cincinnati and its suburbs must reach nearly 20,000. To add to these losses is the damage to buildings, which cannot yet be estimated, the expense of removing stocks to places of safety at a time when labor was worth a dollar an hour, and the loss from suspension of business for almost two weeks. It is pretty accurately estimated that the mere stopping of the manufactories amounts to a loss of $2,000,000. Other departments of business were prostrated to almost as serious an extent. The railroads and steamboat companies did no business in Cincinnati except to guard their property from destruction, and merchants, whether their stores were inundated or not, had no trade, for the reason that there were no mails and no travel and hence no orders. Goods that were already ordered, but all told they cannot have amounted to less that $5,000,000, and higher estimates are abundant.
The river continues to fall at the rate of from ½ inch to 1 inch per hour. It was stationary nearly two hours late this afternoon. It reached 57 feet at 9:30 tonight, being a fall of 9 feet 4 inches from the highest point. The gas works resumed operations this afternoon, and the city is now supplied with gas. The militia have been relieved from duty as a night patrol. Railroads are all running from the town stations except the Cincinnati, Washington and Baltimore, which still uses the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton station, and the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Chicago and St. Louis, which departs from Storr’s Station, west of Mill Creek.
The New York Times, New York, NY 21 Feb 1883
Victim Of The Flood.
A Body Taken from the Cincinnati Railway Station Wreck.
Cincinnati, March 10.-The first body in the Southern Railway Station wreck was recovered today. It was that of W. H. BURDICK, who lived with his young wife at No. 50 West Seventh Street. On the morning of the wreck Mrs. Burdick went to Lebanon to visit some friends. Her husband accompanied her to the station, and after the train had left it is supposed he went over the West End to see the flood in Mill Creek Valley. A good view could be had from the Southern Railway Station, and he must have been standing on the platform when the building and tracks went down.
It was one of the sad features of the disaster that no one knew who were lost. Mrs. Burdick two days afterward wrote to her husband, and followed the letter with two or three more before her fears were aroused. Then she telegraphed, but could get no answer, and ten days after the accident her anxiety as to what could have happened to her husband brought her back to Cincinnati. The house in which they lived was locked, and she had to secure assistance and break open the door. Everything was there just as when she left, but the house was musty from having been closed so long, and the pet dog, canary, and the robin were dead. They had starved.
The awful suggestion was then made to the woman that perhaps her husband was among those buried at the Southern Railway Station. It had not been known before that he was missing, his name not having been connected with the accident. The grief of the poor woman was so great that she became almost a maniac. She was sent to friends in Baltimore by the Masons.
Burdick’s body is still well preserved, although it is nearly a month since he was so suddenly buried under mud and timbers and railroad tracks and a dozen feet of water. In one of his pockets a purse was found containing $140.03. It is supposed that there are at least a dozen bodies buried deep in the mud and debris.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA 12 Mar 1883
A Victim Of the February Flood.
Cincinnati, July 30.-During the great flood in February a portion of the Southern Railway passenger station was carried away, and several persons-it will never be known how many-were buried in the debris, which was strewn several feet deep on some low ground near by. Money was appropriated by the Council to be used in recovering the bodies, and 100 men were employed for some time in digging the drifts of sand and rubbish. The work was abandoned with only one body recovered, that of W. H. BURDICT, who had gone to the station to see his wife off to Lebanon. George Wefer was missing, and his father, Joseph Wefer, who keeps a grocery in Wistach-street, was sure he had gone down in the wreck. He vainly asked the city authorities to continue the search, and then sold his little property and spend the proceeds in digging in the debris. Contributions from friends went in the same way. Under the strain of the long search the old gentleman became almost insane. To-day a laborer went to the place to get some sand, and his shovel uncovered a human skull. A little more digging revealed the body of a man, but so badly decomposed as to be unrecognizable. The distracted old man who has haunted the place for half a year was sent for, and by a handkerchief about the neck he identified the body as that of his missing son.
The New York Times, New York, NY 31 Jul 1883