1937 Flood - Timeline

December, 1936 An unusually warm winter, combined with heavy rainfall, triggered a noticeable rise in the level of the Ohio River and its tributaries.
Saturday, January 16 The Ohio River crested at 51.66 feet.
Sunday, January 17 The Ohio River drops to below 50 feet. Early reports indicated that the danger of flooding was over and that a cold front would head off any further rainfall.

That night, heavy rain fell in the Ohio Valley.

Monday, January 18 By 2pm the river had reached 59.5 feet. Hundreds of residents along the river fled their homes. The weather forecast was for light rain, and the official prediction was that the river would crest at 61 feet by Thursday.
Thursday, January 21 Instead of light rain the area was swamped by 2 inches of rain within a few hours. That morning, the river was at 63 feet, rising to 64 feet by noon… 65 feet at 6pm… The Little Miami River, unable to empty its normal flow, backed up and by 10am the Beechmont Levee gave way, flooding Lunken Airport, the city’s only commercial airfield at the time. The break in the levee took with it telephone lines and communication to the east side of town.
Friday, January 22 By 9:30am, the river passed its most recent record high of 69.9 feet. Early that afternoon, rain turned to snow and sleet. In all, 6 inches of snow fell on this day.

The 1884 record depth of 71.1 foot passed by 3:30pm and a new record crest of 72 feet was predicted. 30,000 were already homeless. One by one the bridges crossing the Ohio were shut down, halting traffic between the states, ending with limited traffic on the Suspension Bridge.

The Mill Creek overflowed. Water swamped the Eighth Street, Western Hills and Ludlow Viaducts, effectively cutting off the west side of town, and the rail yards, stopping rail traffic in communities such as Norwood and Oakley.

While local relief agencies such as the Red Cross were busy helping as many people as they could, the Tennessee Coast Guard arrived to provide flood relief.

Saturday, January 23 The sun was out this morning and with it came a prediction that the river would crest at 73 and a half feet.
Sunday, January 24 Early that morning, it started raining and that day another 2 and a half inches of rain fell. The snow became slush, which, as it melted, added to the rise of the river and streams.

This day is also known as ''Black Sunday.'' In the Mill Creek valley, gasoline storage tanks at Spring Grove and Arlington were pushed over by the rush of the flood waters, spilling nearly a million gallons of gasoline. A dangling wire sparked explosions and a blaze that required 35 fire companies, including trucks from Dayton and Columbus, to extinguish.

That afternoon, the flood stage passed 74 feet, shutting down Waterworks pumping stations and hampering efforts of the firefighters.

By midnight, the river reached 77.4 feet.

Monday, January 25 Electricity is cut off to residences. Water was rationed and needed to be boiled. All industry and business was mostly suspended. More than 1500 National Guardsmen arrived to help. A half-million people were homeless in the Ohio Valley.
Tuesday, January 26 The greatest flood in our history reached its officially recorded peak of 70.99 feet in the early morning hours. 45 square miles of Hamilton County's 350-square miles were under water. Water supplies had begun to dwindle and people resorted to wells and tanks to fulfill their water needs.
Wednesday, January 27 The river slowly started to fall and surveys of the damage began.
Friday, January 29 The slow decline of the Ohio River continued, dropping only to 77.2 feet. Suburban shops were permitted to open under light and water restrictions.
Monday, February 1 The river's level now stands slightly below 71 feet. Work crews began the task of restoring water service to the city. A 35,000 kilowatt generator of the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company was put back into service. While neighboring cities routed water to the city, faucets in nearly every household remained dry.
Tuesday, February 2 The city's Disaster Council issued a bulletin permitting downtown stores to reopen and allowing limited telephone and delivery service.
Wednesday, February 3 The river has fallen enough that water service has resumed and businesses started to reopen.
Thursday, February 4 Street cars were slowly being put back on the street and trains were once again operating out of Union Terminal.
Friday, February 5 The Ohio River finally falls below the 52-foot flood stage -- the first time in 18 days.