Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy Centennial Year + 4!

Happy New Year 2017 and thanks to all readers of this research blog! 100,000 views and counting, plus the annual subject index to posts about the nation's nearly forgotten most widespread natural disaster

Over the past four-plus years since “'Our National Calamity': The Great Easter 1913 Flood” (ONC) was launched in November 2012, this research blog has published 53 installments—most of them full-length heavily documented research articles—by guest authors as well as myself. That’s the equivalent of an entire book. A good many of them represent in-depth original analysis based on new primary sources. And they are read. As of the end of 2016, ONC has attracted more than 100,000 hits, and now averages 3,000 to 11,000 hits per month. A heartfelt thank-you goes out to every reader. 

As one of ONC's purposes is to provide a lasting, comprehensive guide to resources published about the March 1913 storm system, devastation, and its societal consequences and implications, broadly interpreted, below is my fourth annual New Year’s Day gift to historians, meteorologist, curators, descendants of sufferers: a handy subject index categorized by general topic. Also, an updated searchable running list in Word in reverse chronological order is also posted multiple times throughout the year at the top left link on the 1913 flood page of my website.

For meteorology of the powerful Great Easter storm system: 
To Build a Tornado (March 1, 2016) Not one, but three violent tornadoes struck the Omaha metro area in a single hour Easter Sunday 1913. What weather conditions built those tornadoes? Could they recur? By guest author Evan Kuchera, USAF meteorologist
Map of the modern Omaha metro area with the approximate tracks of what were called the Yutan, Omaha, and Council Bluffs tornadoes. From west to east, all three F4 tornadoes—some of the most violent that occur—struck within 20 miles and 45 minutes. Credit: Evan Kuchera

Terror in Terre Haute (May 1, 2015)  A modern reconstruction reveals that the violent tornado that ripped through southern Terre Haute, Indiana, on Easter night, March 23,1913, may have been more than one twister, and documents that its full path of destruction extended over 25 miles
Great Easter 1913 Dust Storm, Prairie Fires—and Red Rains (December 1, 2014) A mammoth Easter Sunday dust storm set raging prairie fires fires in two states and caused "blood rains" in three states
Earth-Shaking Mystery (October 1, 2014) Was a sizeable earthquake that rocked Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 28, 1913—just when the massive floodwaters were receding from Ohio and Indiana—somehow related to or even triggered by the Great Easter Flood?  
Be Very Afraid... (December 23, 2012) Why the Great Easter 1913 storm system could recur—profile of a computational reanalysis from 1913 data of what happened, by Cleveland-based National Weather Service senior hydrologist Sarah Jamison
“My Conception of Hell” (December 2, 2012) The Great Easter 1913 Omaha tornado
The First Punch (November 25, 2012) A mammoth Good Friday windstorm that decimated communications set the stage for national tragedy 

For facts and figures about death and destruction: 
Mapping Disaster (August 1, 2016) What is revealed when 1913 high-water measurements are input into today’s Geographic Information System (GIS) computational tools? By guest author Barry Puskas of the Miami Conservancy District
Dramatic digitized map of 1913 flood depths in Dayton, Ohio, was one of nine geo-referenced maps created by Barry Puskas and colleagues at the Miami Conservation District (MCD) between 2008 and 2012, synthesizing data from 1915 hand-drawn maps with modern GIS techniques.
Like a War Zone (March 16, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents, revealing that the destruction of property exceeded that of Hurricane Katrina, centered on the industrial North
“Death Rode Ruthless...” (February 18, 2013) A modern reanalysis of official documents reveals that a minimum of 1,000 lives were lost across 15 states (this is the second most viewed post in ONC, with nearly 2,000 views)

For victims’, rescuers’, and predators’ responses: 
Men of the Hour (April 1, 2016) Heedless of personal danger, a handful of police officers from the Indianapolis Police Department rescued over 600 people in devastated West Indianapolis during the Great Easter 1913 Flood. By guest author Patrick R. Pearsey
Captain George V. Coffin (middle) and Bicyclemen Charles Gollnisch and Thomas O’Brien (left and right) not only rescued West Indianapolis residents during the 1913 flood but also helped with relief and cleanup after the flood. Credit: Indianapolis Star

Service Above Life (September 1, 2015) Out of the rubble, mud, and ashes of Easter 1913 tornadoes and floods that devastated a third of the United States, Rotary discovered its mission of humanitarian service. Unpublished letters and meeting minutes discovered in Rotary’s archives reveal the backstory
Wireless to the Rescue! Birth of Emergency Radio (April 1, 2014) High school and college students are the first to establish quasi-reliable communications into the flood districts, and at the end of flood week bills for emergency radio are being presented to Congress
High-Wire Horror (February 1, 2014) First-person harrowing accounts from people trapped in houses who escaped approaching flames by literally tight-rope walking telephone lines over floodwaters to safety
Spurning Disaster Aid (September 1, 2014) Why did cities and individuals, even those who had lost everything, refuse relief?
Advertising Disaster (November 1, 2014) Within 24 hours, tornado insurance agents and others were clamoring for victims' cash

For significance today, including lessons for current-day disasters:
Crisis Communications in a Communications Crisis (July 1, 2016) When communications infrastructure is devastated for days or weeks in a horrific multistate natural disaster, how can city and state leaders or local volunteers orchestrate evacuations, aid, relief, and recovery? Where internet and electronics go out, lessons from the 1913 flood are useful
AT&T’s flooded facilities during the 1913 flood versus the flooded lobby of Verizon’s headquarters at 140 West Street in lower Manhattan almost a century later during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Message: Natural disaster can happen again and could disable 21st-century communications.

Misery in Missouri...and Beyond (February 1, 2016) The major December–January 2015–2016 flooding down the Mississippi River, the recent disaster raises thought-provoking questions
Spectacular drone footage at sunrise on New Year’s Day, 2016, of the Mississippi River at near-record height held back by the concrete floodwall at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Credit: Oral R. Friend
Katrina + 10: Once and Future Disasters (August 1, 2015) Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina—third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the U.S., based on central pressure—slammed into the U.S. Gulf Coast, beginning the nation’s worst and most widespread disaster since the Great Easter 1913 flood. Ten harsh lessons from both
Prayers and Lessons (June 1, 2015) The massive multistate flooding in the southern plains states in late May 2015 actually approaches the magnitude of the multistate Great Easter 1913 Flood in some ways. Message: Extreme, widespread, non-hurricane rain events in the middle of the nation can happen again. Are we ready?
Floods and Other Disasters (February 1, 2015)  Despite more knowledge and ability to manipulate nature, we have increased our exposure and susceptibility to natural hazards. Why? Distinguished Carolina Professor Susan L. Cutter explores our current hazardscape
Benchmarking ‘Extreme’ (July 1, 2014) What infrastructure today would lie in harm’s way if 1913-scale tornadoes and flood recurred in the same places?
A greater concentration of people, of course, means a greater concentration of personal household wealth (automobiles, TVs, computers, cell phones, etc.) as well as greater commercial assets and infrastructure (schools, shopping centers, grocery stores, cell phone towers, internet servers).

For coverage in the 1913 media: 
Eloquence Beyond Words (April 1, 2015) The Great Easter 1913 national calamity inspired artists to depict fundamental truths in editorial cartoons more powerful and pithy than words or photographs
Screening Disaster (March 1, 2014) The 1913 flood may be the first natural disaster filmed while it was still in progress; includes links to surviving footage  
The Governor’s Ear (December 16, 2012) How two Bell Telephone engineers got the word to Ohio Governor James M. Cox

For enduring consequences: 
The Day the Dam Broke? (October 1, 2015) One of the humorist James Thurber's most famous stories was inspired by a bizarre incident during the 1913 flood in Columbus, Ohio. The backstory…
Magnum Opus (June 1, 2014) Stunning murals on concrete floodwalls in 13 Ohio River cities and towns keep history alive--including the 1913 flood 
Morgan’s Cowboys (January 20, 2013) What is the worst possible flood? And how can a city protect against it? A young engineer figures out how
Morgan’s Pyramids (January 27, 2013) Building the monumental but elegantly simple works to protect Dayton forevermore
Local histories: 
'Clevelanders Responding Nobly...' (May 1, 2016) Although crippled and without power itself during the Great Easter 1913 flood, Cleveland rushed aid to Dayton and Zanesville. And with telegraph and telephone wires downed, the Plain Dealer became the principal information lifeline across flooded northern Ohio 
Credit: Cleveland Leader, March 28, 1913, p. 2

Exhibiting Disaster (December 1, 2105) Not two years after the Great Easter 1913 flood, Dayton, Ohio, celebrated its comeback with an exhibit in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco—a city celebrating its comeback after the 1906 earthquake.
Never Before Seen (July 1, 2015) Eight previously unknown photographs of the 1913 flood purchased on ebay portray the flood at its peak in Rochester, New York. Who was the mystery photographer?
Explosion at Equality (March 1, 2015) On Sunday, April 6, 1913, the swollen Ohio River backed more than 20 miles up Illinois’s Saline River, flooding a coal mine that residents of Equality were desperately trying to save—exploding the mine
36 Hours: From Boys to Leaders (August 1, 2014) Fewer than 100 Culver Military Academy cadets rescued 1,400 Indiana residents; by guest historian Richard Davies, Ph.D.  
Tragedy at the Circus (February 10, 2013) Elephants and big cats were among fatalities when 1913 floodwaters swept through Peru, Indiana. By environmental historian Ron E. Withers, M.A.

Circus performer atop carcass of elephant drowned in 1913 flood in Peru, Indiana. Credit: Miami Co Museum
Rescuing Albany’s Water (January 13, 2013) It was also the Hudson River’s greatest flood—and what New York did about it
The Prisoners’ Feast (December 30, 2012) How the inmates of the Indiana State Reformatory saved the town of Jeffersonville from floodingand the unique response of the grateful residents  
The Villain Who Stole the Flood (December 9, 2012) How the 1913 flood in Dayton transformed NCR president John H. Patterson—a convicted felon—into a national hero  
An Unnecessary Tragedy: The Johnstown Flood (May 1, 2014) Describing three potentially fatal dam myths that still persist today; by guest author Kenneth E. Smith, P.E.

Resources, references,and centennial commemorations
Great Easter 1913 Disaster Library (November 1, 2016) Here in one place is an annotated bibliography of some three dozen modern books and half a dozen documentary films on the Great Easter 1913 natural disaster, which originally appeared in four separate posts over the previous four years 
Grisly Souvenirs (November 8, 2015) Dozens of souvenir booklets of photographs of death and destruction in individual cites sold tens of thousands of copies.  
Centennial Update: April through December (April 13, 2013)
Centennial Month! Events Update (March 3, 2013) 
Profiting from Pain (February 24, 2013) pulls back the veil on the dodgy instant-books industry in 1913 and its money-grubbing authors, who wrote under multiple confusing titles and pseudonyms, flagrantly violating copyright law to produce lurid subscription volumes that to this day keep cropping up and being cited as if they were authoritative references
Five 1913 instant disaster books, all plagiarizing other people's prose, were published and selling while the flood crest was still roaring down the Mississippi River. [Credit: Trudy E. Bell]

1913 Great Easter Disaster Centennial Update (February 2, 2013)  
Happy 1913 Centennial Year! (January 6, 2013) 

Reader Talk-Back (June 1, 2016)  Readers ask about the role of Gorge Dam in saving Akron during the 1913 flood, a mystery medal of honor, a great grandfather in Indianapolis who was a flood hero, and more. Some queries stump me—does another reader know?
Inch square medal from 1913 apparently awarded to Elijah Kirby, possibly for heroism during the 1913 flood. Does any reader have any idea about what organization struck and awarded the medals? Credit: Christy K.V.

Forget at Your Own Peril (April 3, 2013) Why is such an enormous disaster forgotten?  
“An Epidemic of Disasters” (November 16, 2012) Introduction and mission for this research blog  

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Thank you so much for your readership (and your patience with irregular postings during the move of my office and household). Watch for new research installments to be posted the first of each month throughout 2017! I welcome hearing your feedback: please e-mail me!

© 2017 Trudy E. Bell

Next time: Desperate Medicine

Bell, Trudy E., The Great Dayton Flood of 1913, Arcadia Publishing, 2008. Picture book of nearly 200 images of the flood in Dayton, rescue efforts, recovery, and the construction of the Miami Conservancy District dry dams for flood control, including several pictures of Cox. (Author’s shameless marketing plug: Copies are available directly from me for the cover price of $21.99 plus $4.00 shipping, complete with inscription of your choice; for details, e-mail me), or order from the publisher.