Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 25, 2013

The Great Flood of 1913

Historical Society remembers flood with photos.

Kokomo — Kokomo has seen its share of floods, but nothing compares to what happened 100 years ago.

The most widespread natural disaster in American history began March 21, 1913, with a Good Friday tornado outbreak.

Twisters were followed by torrential rainfall. The rain and flooding affected 15 states from Ohio to Indiana to Illinois and south along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The Wabash and White rivers, along  the Wildcat Creek and hundreds of tributaries large and small overflowed, according to Dave Broman, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society.

At dawn March 21, 1913, as storms rolled through the area, the Wildcat began rising three inches an hour, the Tribune reported in 1913.

Water went over the levee protecting the South Kokomo river district about 8 a.m. Some residents moved possessions to higher floors. Others, the Tribune reported, prepared for complete moves while “a few grimly watched the flood and made no effort to protect their property. These were the poor who lived in one-story shacks and had nowhere to move.”

Heavy rain over a 24-hour period swelled Wildcat Creek to nearly “a mile wide,” according to Kokomo historian Ned Booher in a 2000 Kokomo Tribune report.

The torrential rains literally cut Kokomo in half.

The bridges were unsafe, streets flooded and phone lines failed. The power plant was underwater, lines were down and there was no electricity.

“It wasn’t just a local disaster,” Broman said. “It was widespread and one of the worst natural disasters in American history. There’s never been anything like it and it’s something that some people forget about.”

In commemorating the historical event, the Howard County Historical Society is observing the event with a photographic exhibit in the Seiberling Mansion. The exhibit opened Wednesday and runs through the end of April.

Visitors will see images of Kokomo neighborhoods and residents along with the overflowing Wildcat Creek.

“This gives people an insight of the scope of it,” Broman said.

Broman added he is looking to increase the collection of materials related to the 1913 flood.

“Photographs, artifacts and written personal accounts would be valuable additions,” Broman said.

People wishing to donate items can contact Stew Lauterbach at the museum at 765-452-4314.

In his book “Kokomo: A Pictorial History,” Ned Booher noted “this intermittent downpour lasted until late afternoon the following Tuesday, March 25. By that time, the Wildcat was a raging torrent that produced a vast lake at least a mile wide - mostly south of the stream.

“The whole Middle West was hit,” Booher continued. “Logansport and Peru had bridges washed out and suffered loss of life.”

The flood was declared over late March 26. The water level had dropped 42 inches in 24 hours, the Tribune reported March 26, 1913.

That flood and others led the city to take steps to improve flood control plans and communication, which should reduce injuries and damage in case of a similar flood.

Don Cree, the city’s storm water manager, said the city has removed several dams and restricted zoning over the years.

“We have the reservoir now, which holds back some of the water we used to get downstream,” he said. “Also, we don’t have as many obstructions in the creek as we used to.”

Along with removing several dams in last couple of years, the city and the Wildcat Guardians do annual cleanups along the creek to remove trash and other debris.

“Another good thing is we have new zoning rules that restrict zoning in flood ways and the city has attempted to purchase some of the properties along the flood plain,” he said. “We’re a lot safer now. We’ve lowered [the creek] some, but it doesn’t mean we’re flood proof.”

If you go

What: The Great Flood of 1913 exhibit

Where: Howard County Historical Society, 1200 W. Sycamore St.

When: March 20 through April 30

Why: To commemorate the history of the flood

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • KFD Rescue 2 Staffing changes leave Kokomo Fire Department with one rescue truck A shift in how the Kokomo Fire Department is staffed and responds to calls has some firefighters worried they will not have access to all the equipment they need. City officials, however, maintain there will be no change in the quality of service pro

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Kokomo Police officers reach out to public Tuesday Kokomo police will be out in full force Tuesday in area neighborhoods. In addition to their regular patrols, officers will be out getting to know residents and the issues they may have as part of National Night Out, a crime prevention event. National

    July 30, 2014

  • Feds cite Indiana Medicaid fraud unit over notices INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal agency found that the Indiana attorney general's office didn't give proper notice in nearly a quarter of the Medicaid fraud cases it helped prosecute in recent years. A report from the Department of Health and Human Serv

    July 30, 2014

  • Indianapolis man buys 2 $1M tickets in 3 months INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indianapolis man is celebrating his second $1 million Hoosier Lottery prize in the past three months. Lottery officials say Robert Hamilton won a $1 million prize from a scratch-off ticket he bought last week at a convenience s

    July 30, 2014

  • Frankfort teen dies after rescue from Indiana city pool FRANKFORT (AP) — Authorities say a 15-year-old boy pulled from a central Indiana city pool has died. Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes says Adrian Alanis died in an Indianapolis hospital on Tuesday, the day after he was rescued from the deep end of the

    July 30, 2014

  • Pence pushing Medicaid alternative during DC trip INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is heading to Washington to seek federal approval of his proposed state-run alternative to traditional Medicaid in order to expand health care coverage for low-income residents. The governor's office says P

    July 30, 2014

  • Two arrested in purse-, wallet-snatching spree

    Two people were arrested late last week in relation to a string of purse and wallet thefts from shopping carts in local department stores.

    July 30, 2014

  • YMCA front rendering NIPSCO donates $50K to YMCA campaign The Northern Indiana Public Service Company donated $50,000 Tuesday to the Kokomo Family YMCA’s Beyond the Bricks campaign to build a new Y in downtown Kokomo.“The Y is a great resource for the community, so we’re glad to help it grow and add to the

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fatal Truck+Car Accident03 Woman killed after vehicle collides with semi head-on A woman was killed Monday night after her vehicle collided with a semi truck in the northbound lanes of U.S. 31 near the junction with U.S. 931.Elizabeth Ann Jeffries, 41, Monticello, died after her car apparently left the road and entered oncoming,

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bldg Wall Collapse 01 KipCor purchases partially collapsed downtown building A building that has long been a part of downtown Kokomo’s landscape will remain intact, but undergo extensive demolition, after being purchased by a company that has been active in the city’s redevelopment efforts. The Barko building, also known as t

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.