Friday, March 22, 2013

Where were you 100 years ago, at this very moment?

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Where were you 100 years ago at this very moment?

I know, it is a dumb question, but I cannot help but look around me and think about the fact that exactly 100 years ago, at this very moment, on ground we stand upon, the greatest local natural disaster in our history was wreaking havoc, destruction — and death — upon area.

I hope that you have been following our Piqua Daily Call flood series over the past several weeks.
I believe that I can speak for our entire staff when I say that the research, the writing and taking current, related photographs around the area in preparation for the series has been a great learning experience for all of us.

One has only to look at the many historic images from March of 1913 to get a small sense of the destruction that devastated Piqua, Troy and Dayton.

Most evidence of that terrible time is lost to the ages. Thank God for memorabilia such as Mr. Arther Adams’ diary, that I was so fortunate to be able to look at as I prepared by portion of our flood series. I could not help but think as I held that invaluable book in my hands, that a century ago, a young man, just about the age of my son, Ryan, was writing his experience on those very pages. He and my son have much in common, Mr. Adams was serving in the Ohio National Guard, based in Covington. Ryan currently is serving in that same Ohio National Guard, although his unit is based in Piqua.

I imagine that Mr. Adams was much like Ryan, a young man who was enjoying life … when duty called.

Residents in, and around, the Piqua area lost homes and property during that horrible time. Some, lost their lives.

The building that served as a temporary morgue for those who perished in Piqua’s flood waters is now gone. A parking lot stands on that spot.

With few exceptions, one of them Lock 9 Park in Piqua, the flood closed the book on the Miami & Erie Canal.

Today, high levees line the banks of the Great Miami River where it winds its way through our city. Most of us give little thought to rainy spells and the accompanying rushing water. We take for granted that the levees and safety features built by the Miami Conservancy District in the years following the flood, will do their job and allow us to continue business as usual.

For those who survived the flood waters of March 1913, I doubt they ever felt completely secure when news of possible flooding reached them.

Most of us have been complaining recently about “Old Man Winter” hanging on too long. As we celebrate our weekend, and prepare for the upcoming Good Friday and Easter holy days, I hope that we all take a moment to give thanks. We really don’t have it so bad.

For that, we also owe a debt of gratitude to our forefathers, who worked to insure that their children and grandchildren did not suffer the same fate. They paid a terrible price as a “perfect storm” taught them that no matter how hard we try, it is difficult to overcome nature.

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