DAYTON — The centennial celebration of the Miami Conservancy District drew more than 200 people last Wednesday at the Carillon Historical Park.
Held in the park’s Kettering Education Center, the two-hour event included a social hour, several brief speeches, a 4-minute video and a tour of the Dayton Flood Exhibit.
Janet Bly, the MCD general manager since 2003, opened the formal part of the program with an introduction of local officials.
“We want to celebrate this milestone occasion together with the cities and counties we serve,” Bly said.
Bly introduced Mark Rentscheler, the MCD president, who characterized the organization as “locally engineered and dedicated to flood protection.”
“It’s all about your safety, comfort and growth,” he added.
The MCD was founded on June 28, 1915, two years after the 1913 Great Dayton Flood, which claimed more than 360 lives and caused nearly $100 million of damage (more than $2 billion in today’s economy).
Kurt Reinhart, the MCD chief engineer since 2006, described the flood as “Ohio’s worst natural disaster.”
The community response to the flood 102 years ago was immediate, according to Reinhart.
More than $2 million was raised within two months. NCR president John Patterson sparked the fundraising rally with the theme of “Promises in the Attic.” Arthur Morgan was hired to provide flood control of the Great Miami River and its tributaries.
Morgan, Dayton lawyer John McMahan and NCR’s Edward Deeds were the key players, according to Reinhart, in the “formation of the MCD in 1915.”
Morgan surveyed the Great Miami, Stillwater and Mad rivers. In order to provide permanent flood protection, he proposed the construction of five dams — Taylorsville, Englewood, Huffman, Germantown and Lockington. The five dams were completed on Dec. 31, 1921, and spanned 55 miles of levees and thousands of floodplain acres.
During the 100-year anniversary celebration Wednesday, a 4-minute video was shown that featured laudatory comments from nearly two dozen officials from Piqua to Hamilton, two cities that also suffered heavy flood damage.
Speakers in the video included Justin Sommers, assistant city manager of Piqua, Katherine Hayes, project manager of Troy Main Street, Jeff Hoagland, executive director of the Dayton Development Coalition and Frances Mennone of Hamilton.
Other officials such as Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Downtown Dayton Partnership Executive Director Sandy Gudorf, a Clayton resident, also congratulated the MCD on its historical achievement.
“Safety and security are two big things that MCD provides,” Whaley said. “Also, flood prevention and quality of water have helped the river corridor development such as the Dayton RiverScape and several housing projects.”
Gudorf characterized the 100-year milestone of flood control by the MCD as one that was sparked by “leadership when it was certainly needed.”