Wednesday 19 October 2011

Buffalo Flood of 1844

Gale force winds and heavy rain hit the city of Buffalo, New York in the wee hours of October 19, 1844, tossing canal boats onto the shore like baseballs, drowning sleeping residents like fish and crushing buildings like pancakes.  Mistakenly called a "tsunami", which is the result of an earthquake, the storm system was a "seiche", the result of air pressure.  A strong northeasterly wind had pounded Lake Erie for days, but a strong shift in the wind's direction caused the resulting gale and flood.  At the corner of Main and Ohio streets, residents were submerged in six feet of water.  At Huff's Hotel, guests were pulled from their beds and swept into the lake.  Two hundred smaller buildings were demolished and debris covered South Buffalo.  Two families, stranded on a rooftop of a house, were set adrift when the house broke loose from its foundation; the roof shortly split in two, serving as life rafts until their occupants were rescued.  The Attica Buffalo railroad track was washed up for a mile and a half hampering trains.  Out on the lake, waves rose 22 feet in height, leaving several steamers stranded including the Julia Palmer, its passengers sending a horse to swim to shore with a note strapped to its neck stating:  "Burned wood.  Now burning furniture".  The seiche left Buffalo, a city named after Buffalo Creek, with 53 dead; 25 more souls perished on Lake Erie. 



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1 comment:

  1. New link to the above story in The Buffalo History Gazette.