COLUMBUS – On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Great Ohio Flood of 1913, the state’s most devastating weather disaster, Lieutenant Governor and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor is reminding Ohioans during National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 18-22, the importance of evaluating their need for flood insurance and understanding how to secure it. Governor John R. Kasich has proclaimed the week Flood Safety Awareness Week in Ohio.
Taylor said that financial protection against flood damage is not included in a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage has to be purchased separately and there is a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective. She also pointed to the past to remind people just how unforgiving Mother Nature can sometimes be.
“Whether 100 years ago or today, flooding can be devastating on a personal and material level,” Taylor said. “Work with your insurance agent to ensure you have the appropriate financial safeguards in place to protect you and your belongings.”
Rewind to March 23, 1913 and imagine a scene with rain pouring from the Ohio sky onto the snowy ground. Almost immediately, the entire state was deep underwater with people fighting for their lives. The Ohio Historical Society said 6 to 11 inches pounded down over several days. In the end, animals perished, around 600 lives were lost, approximately 35,500 homes and many businesses were flooded. The amount of destruction amounted to the equivalent of at least $3 billion in today’s economy.
Also according to the Ohio Historical Society, in Dayton, the Great Miami River flooded 14 square miles of the city. The Ohio River in Cincinnati rose 21 feet in 24 hours. In Columbus, the Scioto River poured nine to 17 feet deep through neighborhoods. The Muskingum River in Zanesville crested 27 feet above flood stage and water was 20 feet deep at several downtown intersections. The Cuyahoga River washed away docks, lumberyards, trains, and rail yards in Cleveland. Levees along the Ohio River in Portsmouth were topped, flooding 4,500 homes.
Today, flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in any community that participates in the program. The NFIP website at floodsmart.gov is filled with consumer and agent friendly material.
Even though flood insurance is administered by a federal program, private insurers sell the policies. An insurance agent can tell you if your community is part of NFIP and advise you on coverage. This is also an opportune time to inquire with your agent if coverage for damage caused by a sewer or drain back-up is available and appropriate to add to your homeowners or renters policy.
Flood insurance is available to protect homes, condominiums, apartments and non-residential buildings, including commercial structures and their contents. The NFIP offers basement flood coverage for structural elements, essential equipment and other basic items normally located in a basement. In addition, the NFIP encourages people to purchase both building and contents coverage for the broadest protection.
Click here to view the Ohio Department of Insusurance Flood Insurance Toolkit. For additional information on flood safety and the Great Ohio Flood of 1913, visit the following websites: