June 2, 1889: On June 2, 1889, the same heavy rains caused that had helped cause massive flooding in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and overwhelmed the South Fork Dam several days before hit the Washington, DC, area. Most of the roads in DC at the time where unpaved and unlike some other major cities of the time not even covered in cobblestones, their surface consisted mainly of dirt. As a result, when the Potomac River flooded and areas around Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House the whole region was under several feet of water the flooding was made worse by sewers that became clogged with dirt from unpaved roads and began overflowing, causing the water to rise faster than expected. The water on city streets because so deep that the only access between the east and west of the city was by boat.
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