Historic Moments -- The Great Flood of 1913
Top: Tornado damage in Omaha, Nebraska, on 23 March 1913. Photo courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce
Bottom: Flood damage in Columbus, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Steve Holt/Mitretek Systems
When a disastrous flood struck the midwestern United States in March 1913, Rotary clubs contributed over $25,000 to a Rotary Relief Fund for victims in Indiana and Ohio -- the organization's first cooperative disaster relief effort.
The Great Flood of 1913 swept across central and southern Indiana and throughout Ohio, becoming the most devastating flood in the history of those states. Individual homes and entire neighborhoods were destroyed, and almost 500 lives were lost in Ohio alone.
The flooding was caused by a storm that first hit Omaha, Nebraska, on Easter Sunday, 23 March, spawning a tornado that ripped its way through the state, killing more than 150 people and injuring more than 400. Flooding began two days later in Indiana and Ohio.
Although the Rotary Club of Indianapolis had been chartered only weeks before the flood, and the Rotary Club of Dayton had been chartered only six months earlier, the clubs were determined to bring relief to their communities. Rotarians in affected areas helped provide medical support, shelter, and transportation to residents.
Rotary clubs in Cincinnati, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, donated money, supplies, and medicine to the devastated communities. Their efforts led to a special voluntary relief fund for disaster victims.
Read several accounts of the disaster as reported by Rotarians in the May 1913 issue of The Rotarian .