From Ohio History Central
The deadliest flash flood in Ohio history roared through Xenia late on Wednesday, May 12th, 1886, killing 28 people. Runoff from 7 to 9 inches of rain poured into Shawnee Creek and a wall of water several feet high moved through Xenia. The waters rose so quickly that the sleeping families had little time to escape. Sixteen people died in two homes that were carried into the flood and collapsed.
The flood left more than 300 people homeless. Fire engines pumped out wells in the flooded district and unclaimed lumber was divided among the needy. After the flood, City Council announced they intended to widen Shawnee Creek and asked residents not to rebuild houses along the creek. There were rumors at the time that an embankment upstream from Xenia caused the flood waters to back up and then the embankment failed, sending the wall of water through Xenia. Careful examination showed this was not true, although debris collecting at bridges through Xenia caused a temporary rise in floodwaters that washed downstream with renewed vigor when the debris or bridge gave way.
- Schmidlin, Thomas W. and Schmidlin, Jeanne A. Thunder in the Heartland: A Chronicle of Outstanding Weather Events in Ohio. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996.