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Midwest Regional Climate CenterHosted by the
Midwestern
Regional
Climate Center

Community Profiles:  Bluffton, Indiana

River: Wabash
Storm Total Rainfall: 9.59"
Known Fatalities:  

TimelineWabash River at Bluffton, IN

Early on Sunday, March 23 at Bluffton, the Wabash River was at a normal level for March with a 2.5 foot reading and the river falling. A heavy rain fell on March 23 over the entire area and by Monday morning nearly four inches had fallen at Bluffton. The Wabash River had risen above flood stage and was rising at a record rate. The heavy rain continued Monday, and the amounts on Tuesday morning were equally as large and ranged from 2 to 3 inches.

A break in the rainfall occurred during the day on Tuesday, and only slight amounts of rain were reported on Wednesday, March 26.  The Wabash River was at a record level in Bluffton with a crest of 20 feet occurring this day.  About half of an inch of rain fell during the 24 hours ending March 27, but the river continued to fall. (“Flood on the Wabash River in March 1913” by W.R. Cade, U.S. Weather Bureau Observer)
 

Impacts

Residences in Bluffton were flooding and the river continued to rise very rapidly. The Cincinnati, Bluffton and Chicago railroad bridge washed out at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.  At the flood’s height, the water extended up to the 700 block on North Main Street in Bluffton. Water was more than two feet deep in houses on the north side of the 400 and 500 blocks of E. Washington Street in Bluffton. (Please note: Bluffton flooding deduced from the following pictures.) Also note the snow in photos below; the snow and freezing weather during the height of the flood added to the misery of those affected.

Main Street in Bluffington, Indiana during March 1913 Flood

View of flooding on Washington Street in Bluffington, Indiana

Railroad bridge washed out due to flooding in Bluffton, Indiana
 

Flood Protection Measures

There are no Corps of Engineers reservoirs upstream of Bluffton.  There is a levee around the wastewater facility, and after 2003 a much smaller levee was built on the east side of Bluffton and on the south side of the river to provide “protection” for some residential lots that were susceptible to the 1-in-100 flood event. The main flood control by the City has been to restore as much of the floodplain to either open green space (buying out 17 houses built on top of a filled-in creek bed and creating an open green space in the heart of the City) or a native habitat waterway (i.e., restoring bottomland woodlands as we have done on 150 acres of former farmland in the floodplain on the east edge of the City upstream on the north side of the Wabash River).

To add information about the March 1913 flooding at Bluffton, e-mail Al Shipe at al.shipe@noaa.gov.

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