The deluge began on Easter Sunday, soaking gentlemanly churchgoers in top hats and English frock coats and ladies attired in orange, rose and lapis lazuli gowns. Outside Euclid Avenue's First Methodist Church, women dashing toward waiting autos lifted their skirts and bared, in a reporter's words, a "kaleidoscopic flash of hosiery."
The rain came down steadily for two days, swelling rivers across Ohio. The Cuyahoga River became a rushing torrent, inundating the Flats, washing through lumberyards, and carrying small boats, railroad ties and driftwood into Lake Erie. A runaway freighter pounded against a bridge at West Third Street until it collapsed. Floods knocked out the electrical plant, which prompted a run on stores' candles.
The rains transformed Collinwood into a mini Venice. Photographer Peter E. Dietrich took this picture on Saranac Avenue, near his studio. It ran in The Plain Dealer on Wednesday, March 26, 1913. "Drink Distillata," suggested an ad on the same page, warning that the "filth, refuse and mud emptying into Old Erie" had made the city's unfiltered tap water even more undrinkable.