1937 Flood - Stories from Survivors

RITA E. UELEIN writes:
"The second house on the left was the home of the Findlay St. Clinic of the Babies Milk Fund Assn. My mother was the caretaker of the clinic and we lived on the second floor. She was widowed at 40 with four children and received free rent as her salary. Mother and my brother stayed during the flood but we three girls stayed with my aunt in Hyde Park. I do remember however going to the First Reformed Church on Freeman Ave. for a medical shot.

If you will recall we were right up Findlay St. from the Redland Field or Crosley Field depending on the time date."


"This is my mother, Jeannette Zimov. She was a 17 year old senior attending Hughes High School in 1937, the year of the great flood. When school was closed she assembled a scrapbook with newspaper clippings from the three major Cincinnati newspapers plus snapshots taken along 4th street. Almost everyone she knew found their way downtown to see the flood waters which were lapping against the doors of the H&S Pogue Co. on the NE corner of 4th & Race St. The damage and destruction were widespread, with some businesses unable to be salvaged. Every family in the city was affected in some way. Schools were closed. Clean water was not available. Streetcars could not run. Electric service was sporadic. My mother lived on Windham Ave. in Avondale. The fire station on Rockdale Ave., the next street, made potable water available to the neighborhood, so my mother and her brothers loaded a wagon with bottles and jars and filled them for the family to use for cooking and drinking. The family drove to Dayton, Ohio to their aunt and uncle's apartment, at the end of the first week, so the family could bathe. The two positive aspects of the flood were the great sense of community with everyone helping to cope and clean up, plus exams were cancelled in the high schools."

"The 1937 flood had a devastating effect on the Thomas & Catherine McMullen family.They occupied a two-story frame home with one daughter - another daughter's family - a third daughter and family lived in another (a few doors away). This accounted for eleven people. Their homes were on Spring Grove Avenue opposite Arlington Street. As the water rose they moved all their belongings to the second floor, bunked in with relatives and waited for the flood water to recede. Then a final blow - fire spread across the water burning off the top floor destroying everything.

It took many months to find housing for all and gather household items. Only two people of the eleven are still living."

"...I was 10 years old when the Ohio River crested at 80' on January 26, 1937. In fact that was my birthday (10).
That was almost 70 years ago.
The Water Works flooded and there was no running water here in Cincinnati. One of the results, you can't flush toilets.
We had a small fish pond in the back yard and we dipped water out of it to flush our toilets."