It may surprise you that nature relies on floods. Floods and adjacent lands called floodplains allow rivers to purge excess sand, silt, and pollution. Plants and shrubs along the edge trap floodwater debris. The earth itself filters floodwater and returns it to the mainstream cleaner that when it left. At winter's end, rising waters create wildlife tree homes as ice crashes against trees and leaves cuts that eventually become cavities.
While necessary to nature, floods can wreak havoc on human communities. Ohio's greatest natural disaster, "The Great Flood," struck in March 1913, saturating Ohio and ending the Miami and Erie Canal. At Providence, ice and flooding have dumped huge amounts of debris, damaged trees, washed out canal banks and even sent other competitor mills floating downriver. To see how high the river crested through flood years, visit the Isaac Ludwig Mill.