The Project Gutenberg EBook of The True Story of Our National Calamity of
Flood, Fire and Tornado, by Logan Marshall

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Title: The True Story of Our National Calamity of Flood, Fire and Tornado

Author: Logan Marshall

Release Date: January 27, 2007 [EBook #20455]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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The True Story of

Our National Calamity

Of Flood, Fire and Tornado

"The appalling loss of life, the terrible suffering of the homeless, the struggles for safety, and the noble heroism of those who risked life to save loved ones; the unprecedented loss of property, resulting in the laying waste of flourishing cities and towns

How the Whole Nation Joined

in the Work of Relief


Author of

"The Sinking of the Titanic," "The Universal

Handbook," "Life of Theodore Roosevelt,"

"The Story of Polar Conquest,"

"Marshall's Handy Manual," Etc.



Copyright 1913, by


The material in this work is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States. All persons are warned against making any use of it without permission.

Prayer by Bishop David H. Greer:
O Merciful God and Heavenly Father, who hast taught us in Thy holy word that Thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men, give ear to the prayers which we humbly offer to Thee in behalf of our brethren who are suffering from the great water floods.
Cause them in their sorrow to experience the comfort of Thy presence, and in their bewilderment the guidance of Thy wisdom. Stir up, we beseech Thee, the wills of Thy people to minister with generous aid to their present needs, and so overrule in Thy providence this great and sore calamity that we may be brought nearer to Thee and be knit more closely one to another in sympathy and love.
All which we humbly ask, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.




I The Greatest Cataclysm in American History 11
II The Death-Bearing flood at Dayton 23
III Dayton's Menace of Fire And Famine 36
IV Dayton in the Throes of Distress 55
V The Recuperation of Dayton 74
VI Dayton: "The City of a Thousand Factories" 104
VII The Devastation of Columbus 110
VIII Columbus: the Beautiful Capital of Ohio 138
IX Cincinnati: A New Center of Peril 142
X The Flood in Western Ohio 152
XI The Flood in Northern Ohio 163
XII The Flood in Eastern Ohio 169
XIII The Flood in Eastern Indiana 179
XIV The Desolation of Indianapolis and the Valley of the White River 184
XV The Roaring Torrent of the Wabash 191
XVI The Plight of Peru: A Stricken City 197
XVII The Death-Dealing Tornado at Omaha 204
XVIII Struggles of Stricken Omaha 212
XIX Omaha: "The Gate City of the West" 217
XX Other Damage From the Nebraska Tornado 220
XXI The Tornado in Iowa and Illinois 225
XXII The Tornado in Kansas and Arkansas 228
XXIII The Tornado in Indiana 231
XXIV The Tornado in Pennsylvania 239
XXV The Freak Tornado in Alabama 243
XXVI The Flood in New York 246
XXVII The Flood in Pennsylvania 254
XXVIII The Flood in the Ohio Valley 263
XXIX The Flood in the Mississippi Valley 270
XXX Damage To Transportation, Mail and Telegraph Facilities 277
XXXI The Work of Relief 285
XXXII Previous Great Floods and Tornadoes 294
XXXIII Lessons of the Cataclysm and Precautionary Measures 308

The Unleashed Gods

By Percy Shaw

Iron and rock are our slaves;
We are liege to marble and steel;
We go our ways through our purse-proud days,
Lifting our voices in loud self-praise—
Forgetting the God at the wheel.

We build our bulwarks of stone,
Skyscraper and culvert and tower,
Till the God of Flood, keen-nosed for blood,
Drags our monuments into the mud
In the space of a red-eyed hour.

Kings of the oceans are we,
With our liners of rocket speed,
Till the God of Ice, in mist-filled trice,
Calls to us harshly to pay his price
As we sink to the deep-sea weed.

Muscle and brain are our slaves;
We are liege to iron and steel;
But who shall say, tomorrow, today,
That we shall not halt on our onward way
To bow to the God at the wheel?





The Greatest Cataclysm in American History


Man is still the plaything of Nature. He boasts loudly of conquering it; the earth gives a little shiver and his cities collapse like the house of cards a child sets up. A French panegyrist said of our own Franklin: "He snatched the scepter from tyrants and the lightning from the skies," but the lightning strikes man dead and consumes his home. He thinks he has mastered the ocean, but the records of Lloyds refute him. He declares his independence of the winds upon the ocean, and the winds upon the land touch his proud constructions and they are wrecks.

He imprisons the waters behind a dam and fetters the current of the rivers with bridges; they bestir themselves and the fetters snap, his towns are washed away and thousands of dead bodies float down the angry torrents. He burrows into the skin of the earth for treasure, and a thousand men find a living grave. Man has extorted many secrets from Nature;12 he can make a little use of a few of its forces; but he is impotent before its power.

Thus we pause to reflect upon the most staggering and tragic cataclysm of Nature that has been visited upon our country since first our forefathers won it from the Indian—the unprecedented succession of tornadoes, floods, storms and blizzards, which in March, 1913, devastated vast areas of territory in Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska and a dozen other states, and which were followed fast by the ravages of fire, famine and disease.


The terrible suddenness and irresistible power of such catastrophes make them an object of overwhelming fear. The evening of Easter Sunday in Omaha was doubtless as placid and uneventful as a thousand predecessors, until an appalling roar and increasing darkness announced to the initiated the approach of a tornado, and in a few minutes forty-seven city blocks were leveled to the ground. The fairest and best built part of the city could no more withstand this awful force than the weakest hovels. Twelve hundred buildings were destroyed, most of them homes, but among them many churches and school houses. The just and the unjust fared alike in this riot of destruction and then the tornado rushed on to find other objects on which to wreck its force in Council Bluffs and elsewhere. It left in its wake many fires, but fortunately also a heavy rain, while later a deep fall of snow covered up the scene of its awful destruction.13


With the rest of the country, fair Dayton sorrowed for Omaha. Two days later Omaha, bowed and almost broken by her own misfortune, looked with sympathy across to Dayton, whose woe was even greater. A thousand communities in the United States read the story and in their own sense of security sent eager proffers of assistance to the striken districts. And not one of them has assurance that it may not be next. There is no sure definition of the course of the earthquake, the path of the wind, the time and place of the storm-cloud. Science has its limitations. Only the Infinite is master of these forces.

In the legal parlance of the practice of torts such occurrences as these are known as "acts of God." Theologians who attempt to solve the mysteries of Providence have found in such occasions the evidence of Divine wrath and warning to the smitten people. But to seek the reason and to know the purpose, if there be purpose in it, is not necessary. The fact is enough. It challenges, staggers, calls a halt, compels men and women to think—and even to pray.

But the flood did not confine itself to Dayton. It laid its watery hand of death and destruction over a whole tier of states from the Great Lakes to New England, and over the vast area to the southward which is veined by the Ohio River and its tributaries, and extending from the Mississippi Valley almost to the Atlantic seaboard. And as this awful deluge drained from the land into Nature's watercourses the demons of death and devastation danced attendance on its14 mad rush that laid waste the borderlands of the Mississippi River from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico.


Those who have never seen a great flood do not know the meaning of the Scriptural phrase, "the abomination of desolation."

An explosion, a railroad wreck, even a fire—these are bad enough in their pictorial effect of shattered ruins and confusion. But for giving one an oppressive sense of death-like misery, there is nothing equal to a flood.

I do not speak now of the loss of life, which is unspeakably dreadful, but of the scenic effect of the disaster. It just grips and benumbs you with its awfulness.

In the flat country of the Middle West there is less likelihood of swift, complete destruction than in narrow valleys, like those of Johnstown and Austin in Pennsylvania. But the effect is, if anything, more gruesome.

After the crest has passed there are miles and miles of inundated land, with only trees and half-submerged buildings and floating wreckage to break the monotony; just a vast lake of yellow, muddy water, swirling and boiling as it seeks to find its level.15



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16The scene in a town is particularly ghastly. How ghastly it is, you would have realized if you could have gone with the writer into the flooded districts of Ohio and Indiana, traveling from point to point in automobiles and motor boats, penetrating to the heart of the flood in boats even before the waters receded, and afterwards on foot. The upper floors of houses not torn from their foundations look all right, but it fairly makes you sick to see the waves of turbid water lapping at second floor sills, with tangled tree branches and broken furniture floating about. It seems horrible—it is horrible—to think of that yellow flood pouring into pleasant rooms where a few hours before the family sat in peace and fancied security—roaring over the threshold, swirling higher and higher against the walls, setting the cherished household treasures astray, driving the furniture hither and thither, drowning out cheerful rooms in darkness and death.

If anything can be worse than this, it is the scenes when the waters recede. The shade trees that stood in the streets so trim and beautiful are all bedraggled and bent, their branches festooned with floating wreckage and all manner of offensive things, their leaves sodden, their trunks caked with mud. The streets are seas of yellow ooze. Garden fences and hedges are twisted or torn away. Reeking heaps of indescribable refuse lie moldering where there were smooth lawns and bright flower beds. The houses that stand are all smeared with the dirt that shows the height of the flood.

But inside those houses—that is the dreadful thing. The rooms that the water filled are like damp caves. Mud lies thick on the floors, the walls are streaked with slime, and the paper hangs down in dismal festoons. Some pictures may remain hanging, but they are all twisted and tarnished. The furniture is a tumbled mass of confusion and filth. But the worst is the reek of decay and death about the place.17


But there is something greater in its tragedy than all this—something greater than a great region where splendid cities, towns and humble villages alike are without resource—something greater than a region of broken dams and embankments and of placid rivers gone mad in flood, bridgeless, uncontrollable, widened into lakes, into seas. It is the hundreds of dead who died a hideous death, and the hundreds of thousands of living who are left helpless and homeless, and all but hopeless.

Just for one moment think—we in our warm, comfortable houses, comfortably clad, safe, smiling and happy—of the half million of our fellow creatures out yonder shivering and trembling and dying, in the grasp of the "destruction that wasteth at noonday," swiftly pursued by "the pestilence which walketh in darkness." The leaping terror of the flames climaxes the terror of the harrowing day and the helpless, hopeless night of agony and sorrow and despair.

Think of the men, women, children and the little babies crushed and mangled amid the wreck of shattered homes—but yesterday as beautiful and bright as ours—the pallid faces of hundreds floating as corpses in the stately streets turned into rushing rivers by the relentless floods—brothers and sisters of ours, freezing and starving in homes turned suddenly into broken rafts and battered houseboats amid the muddy deluge, while the pitying stars look down at night upon thousands, wet, weeping, shivering, hungry, helpless and homeless, with the host of their unrecognized and unburied dead, in this frightful holocaust of fire and flood and pestilence.18

Think of the region where people are huddled shivering on hills or housetops, watching the swelling waters; where practically every convenience, means of communication, comfort, appliance of civilization has been wiped out or stopped; where there is little to eat and no way of getting food save from the country beyond the waters; where millionaire and pauper, Orville Wright and humble scrub-woman, stand shoulder to shoulder in the bread-line that winds towards the relief stations, all alike dependent for once on charity for the barest sustenance.


These are the tragedies that touch our hearts. These are the tragedies that have brought messages of condolence from King George of England, from the King of Italy, from the Shah of Persia and from other monarchs of Europe. These are the tragedies that impelled a widow in a small town in Massachusetts, in sending her mite for the relief of the unfortunate, to write: "Just one year ago, when the ill-fated Titanic deprived me of my all, the Red Cross Society lost not a moment in coming to my aid."

These are tragedies, too, that have prompted wage-earners all over the country to contribute to the relief of the flood sufferers a part of their own means of support that could ill be spared—soiled and worn bills and silver pieces laid down with unspoken sympathy by men and women and children, too, who wanted nothing said about it and turned and went out to face the struggle for existence again. These people did not19 think twice about whether they should help those in greater necessity than their own. They had been helping one another all their lives, and it seemed not so much a duty as a natural thing to do to respond to the call from the West, where people had lost their lives and others were homeless and suffering.


This spirit of helpfulness is a fine thing. But even finer was the spirit of self-help. Secretary Garrison's telegram to President Wilson from the flooded districts that the people in the towns and cities affected had the situation well in hand and that very little emergency assistance was needed, was a splendid testimonial to the courage and the resourcefulness of the people of the Middle West and the admirable cheerfulness which they exhibited during the trying days that followed the beginning of the calamity. There was not a whimper, but on the contrary there was a spirit of optimism that must prove to be most stimulating to the rest of the country.


But perhaps the finest thing of all is the memory of the heroes that showed themselves. When death and disaster, in the form of flood and fire, swept Dayton, John H. Patterson arose with the tide to the level of events. Patterson is the man, more than any other, who brought cosmos out of chaos. When the flood was rising and nobody knew what the result would be, John H. Patterson began to wire for motor boats. He did not ask, he demanded. And the motor boats came.20 Patterson took all of the carpenters from the National Cash Register—one hundred and fifty skilled woodworkers—and set them to work making flat boats. The entire force of the great institution was at the disposal of the people who needed help. And not a man or a woman was docked or dropped from the payroll. Everybody had time and a third.

As for John H. Patterson himself, he worked in three shifts of eight hours each; and for forty-eight hours he practically neither slept nor ate. And then, by way of rest, he took a Turkish bath and a horseback ride, and forty winks, and was again on the job—this man of seventy, who has known how to breathe and how to think and who carries with him the body of a wrestler and the lavish heart of youth!

There were many other heroes—too many to mention here—but we cannot forget John A. Bell, the telephone operator who was driven to the roof of the building, where with emergency instruments he cut in on one of the wires, and for two days and nights, in the driving rain, without food or drink or dry clothing, kept the outside world informed as to what was going on and the needs of the sufferers. What Bell endured during those long hours was enough to kill the heart in a very strong man. Yet his greeting to Governor Cox, over the crippled wire Thursday morning, was: "Good morning, Governor. The sun is shining in Dayton."

Could anything be finer! Men with such spirit are great men, and the spirit that was in John H. Patterson and John A. Bell is the same spirit that was in John Jacob Astor, and Archie Butt, and George B. Harris, and Charles M. Hayes,21 and the band of musicians on the Titanic that played in water waist deep.

As I stood amid the slimy ruins of Dayton the day after the waters receded, Brigadier-General Wood said to me, "There go Patterson and Bell. Would you like to shake hands with them?" And I said, "Just now I would rather shake hands with those two men than own the National Cash Register Company."22

The Storms

By Chester Firkins

And you are still the Master. We have reared
Cities and citadels of seeming might,
But in the passing of a single night
You rend them unto ruin. We who feared
Nor flood nor wind nor wreckage fire-seared,
We shudder helpless in the thunder-light;
The garners cherished and the souls endeared
Emptied and sudden-slaughtered in our sight.

You, whom the Cave Man battled, whom we call
Nature, because we know no better name,
Goddess of gentleness and torture-flame,
Still are you despot; still are we the thrall;
Still we can only wait what Fate may fall
From your wild pinions that no man can tame.
Nor gold or gain, nor battlement or wall
Shall guard us from the primal flood and flame.

Our castled cities tower to your skies.
'Gainst wind and wave we pile our stone and mold.
Powered of genius, panoplied of gold,
We build the bastions of our high emprise.
But yet, but let the plunging torrent rise,
The winds awake on glutted rivers rolled—
We die as the reft robin fledgeling dies—
We perish as the beast in jungles old.

We dream that we are conquerors of Earth;
We think that we are mighty, that we dare
Scorn your grim power—till we glimpse the flare
Of burning Death 'mid holiness of Birth.
What is our godliness and wisdom worth
Against your strength embattled unaware?
You are the Master, ever, everywhere,
Deadly and gentle o'er the wide World's girth.



The Death-Bearing flood at Dayton


It remained for two telephone operators to be the real factors in giving to the world the news of the first day of the flood which inundated Dayton, Ohio, and the whole of the Miami Valley on Tuesday, March 25th. One, in the main exchange at Dayton, flashed the last tidings that came out of the stricken city by telephone, and delivered to Governor Cox news which enabled him to grasp the situation and start the rescue work. The other was the operator at Phoneton, who served as a relay operator for the man in Dayton. They stood to their posts as long as the wires held, and worked all day and night.


A seething flood of water from eight to twenty feet deep covered all but the outlying sections of the city by the evening of the 25th.24

Beneath the waters and within the ruined buildings lay the unnumbered dead. The flooded districts comprised practically a circle with a radius of a mile and a half, and in no place was the water less than six feet deep. In Main Street, in the downtown section, the water was twenty feet deep.

The horror of the flooded district was heightened by more than a dozen fires which could be seen in the flooded district, but out of reach of fire fighters.

Most of the business houses and nearly all residences had occupants. Downtown the offices were filled with men, fathers unable to get home, and the upper floors and on some of the roofs of the residences were helpless women and children. Hundreds of houses, substantial buildings in the residence districts, many of them with helpless occupants, were washed away.

The water in the Miami River began rising Monday afternoon at the rate of six inches an hour and continued to rise throughout the night. The first break in the levee at Dayton came at four o'clock Tuesday morning at Stratford Avenue. This was followed by other breaks at East Second Street and Fifth.


But the severity of the flood that hit Dayton was due to the collapse of the Loramie reservoir in Shelby County about seven o'clock on Tuesday morning, hurling millions of gallons of water into the swollen Miami. Rushing down the Miami Valley, the water carried everything before it at25 Piqua, Troy, Sidney, Dayton, Carrollton, Miamisburg and Hamilton.

Three rivers, the Miami, Stillwater and Mad, and Wolf Creek conjoin in the heart of Dayton. As the city, particularly North Dayton, and a north section called Riverside, lies almost on a level with the four streams, it is protected from high water by levees twenty-five feet high, which guide the streams through the city from its northern to its southern end.



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26North Dayton is a manufacturing and residence district. Riverdale is a residence district. In the southern part of the city, on fairly high ground, is the great plant of the National Cash Register Company

Wolf Creek, flowing into the Miami from the northwest, early got out of its banks and added to the flood flowing over the floors of the Williams Street and Edgewater Avenue bridges.

Mad River, in the northern section, also got over its banks early. All of North Dayton, save the extreme uplands, was inundated. The Miami was more than a mile wide below the city, and thousands of acres were inundated.


At Third and Ludlow Streets, where were located the great Algonquin Hotel, a magnificent church, the great Y. M. C. A. building and the Hotel Atlas, were many feet of water. The central portion of the city was flooded, and the beautiful residence district, lying east of the exclusive boulevard district, was a Venice.

Hundreds of homes were filled with floating furniture. The citizens, used to the slow-creeping floods of other years, were entirely mystified and distracted by this sudden, hurtling, seething flood that seemed to spring by night from the clouds that hovered low over the city and plunged their seas of water into the rivers that converge in the very heart of Dayton.

Railroad and wagon bridges over the Miami River were27 swept away. The telephone operator at Phoneton said that from his window in the station he had seen a bridge one mile north of Dayton collapse and another bridge crossing the river at Tadmor, eleven miles north of Dayton, was expected to give way at any moment.

Communication between Phoneton and Dayton, the operator said, was only intermittent, as the only available wire was being used by the linemen in their efforts to restore service.

Troy and Tippecanoe City, north of Dayton, were both flooded and many people took refuge on the roofs of their homes.

Below Dayton vast acreages were seas of yellow. Farms were lakes, roads were raceways through which raced the swollen streams. Telegraph service was maimed, and all sorts of communication was well-nigh impossible.


Crowded in the upper stories of tall office buildings and residences, two miles each way from the center of the town, were thousands of persons whom it was impossible to approach. At Wyoming Street, three miles beyond what has heretofore been considered the danger line, water was running eight feet deep.

The Western Union operator at Dodson, Ohio, said the office was filled with foreigners who had fled from Dayton. Looters were shooting people down in the streets, according to these refugees. They also reported that the Fifth Street bridge at Dayton had washed down against the railroad28 bridge and arrangements were being made to dynamite both structures. This bridge was dynamited in the afternoon, but the effect was not felt to any marked degree.

The foreigners who sought refuge in the Dodson telegraph office were panic-stricken and told wild stories of the flood, saying nearly every part of the town was under water and the conditions becoming more serious.

The breaking of the Tarleton reservoir, which supplies the drinking water, left the city without water and added great danger of typhoid in the use of flood water.

Frank Purviance, an employee of the Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company, at Dayton, over the long-distance telephone said scores had been drowned there.

"They're dying like rats in their homes; bodies are washing around the streets and there's no relief in sight," Purviance said.


At Wyoming Station, on the South Side, where the National Cash Register Company centered its efforts at rescue, many saved their lives by creeping on a telephone cable, a hundred feet above the flood.

At first linemen crept along the cables, carrying tow ropes to which flat-bottomed boats were attached. When the flood became so fierce that the boats no longer were able to make way against it, men and women crept along the cables to safety. Others, less daring, saw darkness fall and gave up hope of rescue.29

Those willing to risk their lives in the attempt to rescue found themselves helpless in the face of the water.

The first to seek safety by sliding along the telegraph conduits was a man. Then came four women. The first of the women was Mrs. Luella Meyer. She was a widow with one son, a boy in knee-breeches.

He got out on the wire and with the agility of a cat was soon across. But Mrs. Meyers, when over the boiling torrent, swayed as though faint, slipped and the crowd stood with bated breath.

By a lucky chance her senses came back to her so that she could grasp one of the wires. Hand over hand she was able to pull herself slowly to the nearest pole, where she rested before again making the trial. This time she did not falter, but when she was picked up by the rescuers at the farthest pole toward safety she was limp from nervous and physical exhaustion.

Four companies of the Third Regiment, Ohio National Guard, spent the night aiding the city officials in rescuing families in the flood-stricken districts. Telephone and railroad service was interrupted in every direction.

John Hadkins and James Hosay, privates of the Ohio National Guard, were drowned while in acts of rescue. The body of an elderly woman floated down near Wyoming Street in the afternoon, but the current was so swift that it could not be recovered.

The National Cash Register Company's plant, on a high hill, offered the only haven in the South End. Three women30 became mothers in the halls of its office buildings during the night.

In the woodworking department of the National Cash Register Company boats were being turned out at the rate of ten an hour, and these were rushed to where the waters had crossed Main Street in a sort of gully.

But the waters crept up and the strength of the current was far too strong for the crude punts, though they were the best that could be made in a hurry.

Trip after trip was made and hundreds of the refugees were taken from this stretch of houses.


Although John H. Patterson, president of the National Cash Register Company of Dayton, which employs more than 7,100 persons, is nearly sixty-nine years old, and has led a life of unusual activity, he was out in a rowboat tugging at the oars and personally helping in the work of rescue. His two children, Frederick and Miss Dorothy, both in their early twenties, likewise were so engaged.

When despatches came from Dayton late at night saying "the only organized relief movement is that which is being conducted by the National Cash Register Company," those who knew the fighting characteristics of the head of the big corporation were not surprised to receive the additional information that Mr. Patterson as usual was conducting the business of rescue and relief in person.

The Dayton despatches in relating that young Frederick31 Patterson "is leading rescue parties" and that Miss Dorothy, "dressed in old clothes and her hair streaming with water, stood in the rain for hours receiving refugees," gave a notion that the children are one with the sire.


The Cash Register plant is outside the flood zone. As soon as the waters rushed upon the city John Henry Patterson turned his entire force into a relief organization. Every wheel was stopped in the Cash Register plant early on Tuesday morning and the employees were set to work by Mr. Patterson to help the sufferers.

Mr. Patterson bought up all the available food and had it carted to his plant to feed the homeless. Straw was quickly strewn on the factory floors, thus affording dry sleeping places for more than one thousand at night. Every employee of the corporation capable of working on boats was put to work at boat building.

Mr. Patterson is said to have made a promise long ago to his wife, who was Katherine Beck, a school teacher of Brookline, Mass., when she was dying, that he would give special care to the comfort and welfare of his women and girl employees. The dining rooms in the big plant, the rest and recreation rooms and other architectural comforts provided for the women employees as a result of this promise came in very well in the rescue work. The dining rooms and the rest and recreation rooms all were used as eating halls in helping the sufferers.32

While Mr. Patterson was out pulling at the oars of one of his boats thirty-one of his company's automobiles were meeting the craft to hurry the refugees to the Cash Register plant and to dry clothing, food and beds.

Mr. Patterson sent out an appeal for immediate food supplies and for doctors and medicine. By night three thousand homeless were housed in improvised quarters in the Cash Register offices.


"What is your name?" asked the registrars who received the refugees at the National Cash Register plant of a slender young person in men's clothes.

"Nora Thuma," was the reply.

"Nora?" they asked.

"Yes, I'm a girl," was the answer.

She had put on a man's suit in order to cross the perilous span of wires unhampered by skirts.

She came in with Ralph Myers, his wife and their little baby. Myers had climbed a telephone wire pole first. He let down a rope to his wife, who tied to it a meal sack which contained their baby, three months old.

Myers pulled the rope with its precious burden up and then let it down again to aid his wife to ascend from her perilous position.

With the meal sack over his shoulder and his wife holding on to the two wires he walked along the cable a full block before he reached safety.

A typical scene on the outskirts of Dayton. Here scores of houses were completely washed from their foundations and many of the inhabitants were drowned

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood. A typical scene on the outskirts of Dayton. Here scores of houses were completely washed from their foundations and many of the inhabitants were drowned

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A view taken at Ludlow and Second Streets, Dayton, after the water had receded, showing one phase of the devastation resulting from the flood

Copyright by the International News Service. A view taken at Ludlow and Second Streets, Dayton, after the water had receded, showing one phase of the devastation resulting from the flood

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Scenes of indescribable horror were reported by the rescuers under Brigadier-General George H. Wood. Among those who perished were said to have been ten members of the Ohio National Guard who were guarding a bridge.

One man marooned with his family on the roof of his home shot and killed his wife and three children and then himself rather than suffer death in the flames, according to a report received by J. J. Munsell, employment superintendent of the National Cash Register Company, from a man who actually saw the occurrence. The bodies floated away on the flood.

Rescuers tried to get to a raft that bore a man and four women that whirled like a spool in the rapid waters. Then suddenly the raft was sucked down in the water and another chapter was added to the tragedy.


George H. Schaefer, a rescuer who went out into the flood with a skiff and saved a woman and baby, told of his perilous trip.

"A house that had been torn from its foundation came floating up behind us," said Schaefer. "The woman was frightened. I told her there was no danger.

"Suddenly she stood up and jumped over with her baby in her arms. She went straight down and never came up again."

Then there was the horror that William Riley, a salesman for the National Cash Register Company, saw.34

"We saw a very old woman standing at the window of a house waiting for rescue," said Riley. "We rowed up to her. Suddenly the house parted and the woman was engulfed. It was the last we saw of her."

There was the man who was nearly rescued. He had stepped into the skiff and then walked back into his home, which a short time later floated away with him. Incidents of this sort were multiplied.

John Scott ascended a telegraph pole and guided across the cable to places of safety men, women and children rescued from flooded houses.

Scott had guided a dozen persons across the swaying bridges of wire when an explosion that started a fire occurred. The shock knocked Scott from the pole and he fell into a tree.

"The last I saw of him he was trying to get into the window of an abandoned house by way of one of the branches of the tree," said Frank Stevens, a fellow employee of Scott. "The house was in the path of the fire."


Thousands of those who were fortunate enough to escape the first rush of the waters were fed on short rations, and appeals for help were sent out by many of the leading men of the city.

Three carloads of foodstuffs arrived from Xenia, but there was no chance to deliver them to the victims of the flood until the following day.35


Frank Brandon, vice-president of the Dayton, Lebanon and Cincinnati Railroad, succeeded during the night in getting communication for a short time from Dayton to Lebanon. He said that the situation was appalling and beyond all control.

"According to my advices, the situation beggars description," said Mr. Brandon. "What the people need most of all is boats. The water is high in every street and assistance late this afternoon was simply out of the question. My superintendent at Dayton told me that at least sixty had perished and probably a great many more, at the same time assuring me that unless something that closely approached a miracle happened the death list would run considerably higher. We are now rigging up several special trains and will make every effort possible to get into Dayton tonight."

It was on these scenes of indescribable horror that the shades of night closed down.



Dayton's Menace of Fire And Famine


Scarcely had the appalling horror of the flood impressed itself on the stricken people of Dayton before a new danger arose to strike terror to their hearts—fire that could not be fought because there was no way to reach it and because the usual means for fire-fighting were paralyzed.


One fire started from the explosion of an oil tank containing hundreds of gallons which bumped into a submerged building.

The fire started in a row of buildings on Third Street near Jefferson, right in the heart of the business section, and not far from the Algonquin Hotel, the Y. M. C. A., and other large buildings.37

The report of the fire was sent out by Wire Chief Green, of the Bell Telephone Company, who said the fire was then within a block of the telephone exchange in which was located John A. Bell, who for more than twenty-four hours had kept the outside world informed as best he could of the catastrophe in Dayton.

A. J. Seattle, owner of the house in which the fire started after a gas explosion, was blown into the air and killed instantly.

Mrs. Shunk, a neighbor, was blown out of her home into the flood. After clinging to a telegraph pole for half an hour, she finally succumbed and was sucked under the waters.

The explosion blew a stable filled with hay into the middle of the flooded street and this carried the flames to the opposite side.

The next house to burn was Harry Lindsay's. Then Mary Kreidler's and then the home of Theodore C. Lindsay and other houses that had been carried away from their foundations floated into the flames and soon were on fire.

The floating fires burned without restraint and communicated flames to many other buildings where families awaited help.

The Beckel House was threatened and Jefferson Street was on fire on its east side from Third Street as far down as the Western Union office. Refugees driven from their places where they had sought safety from the floods were leaping from roof to roof to escape the new terror. The fire was rapidly approaching the Home Telephone plant.38


Another fire which started from an explosion in the Meyers Ice Cream Company place, near Wyoming Street, spread and burned the block on South Park, a block from Wyoming.

Flames, starting at Vine and Main Streets, jumped Main Street and the houses on the other side were soon aflame. In the middle of the street were a few frame houses that had been washed from their foundations. These were swirled about for a time, and, as though to aid in the passing of the section by fire, they were cast into the path of the flames. Persons hurried from their roof tops, where they had been driven by the flood, to the roof tops of adjoining houses.

A fire that appeared to threaten the entire business section was confined to the block bounded by Second and Third Streets and Jefferson and St. Clair Streets. In the block were the Fourth National Bank, Lattiman Drug Company, Evans' Wholesale Drug Company and several commission houses. This fire subsided somewhat by evening.

Fire broke out in the buildings on Broad Street and many who had taken refuge in the upper floors were threatened with death in the smoke and flames.

Sixteen persons were housed in the Home Telephone Building with a block and tackle rigged as a means of egress if the fire pressed them.


It was reported to Governor Cox that some had leaped from the buildings into the flood. The Governor received39 word via Springfield that 10,000 to 12,000 persons were in the burning buildings, fighting the fire by water lifted in buckets from the flood.

Governor Cox asked the Associated Press to notify its West Virginia correspondents to get in touch with natural gas companies supplying Dayton with gas and ask them to shut off the supply of gas in Dayton, as the gas was feeding the conflagration there.

Pleading that troops be sent to Dayton to relieve the flood sufferers, saying that their need was imperative, and that the town was at the mercy of looters and fires, George B. Smith, president of the chamber of commerce of Dayton, who escaped from the flooded city, wired Governor Cox from Arcanum.

Governor Cox, following the information that Dayton was on fire and that those who had sought refuge in the upper stories of buildings were in danger, determined at six o'clock to reach Dayton with troops and assistance.


It was impossible to get within two miles of the fire, and from that distance it appeared that explosions, probably of drugs, made the fire seem of larger proportions than it was. It appeared to have about burned itself out, and it was not believed it would spread to other blocks.

It was impossible to ascertain, even approximately, the number of persons who might have been marooned in this section and who died after being trapped by flood and fire.

The flames at night cast a red weird glow over the flood-stricken40 city that added to the fears of thousands of refugees and marooned persons, and led to apprehension that there might have been many of the water's prisoners in the burned buildings.

Fire started anew at nine o'clock at night and burned fiercely.

The men, women and children marooned in the Beckel Hotel were terror stricken when fire threatened the building for the second time at night. Since Tuesday morning two hundred and fifty persons had been in the place.

Crowded in the upper stories of tall office buildings and residences in Dayton, two miles each way from the center of the town, were hundreds of persons whom it was impossible to approach. Hundreds of fires which it was impossible to fight were burning. The rescue boats were unable to get farther from the shore than the throw line would permit. They could not live in the current.

At midnight residents of Dayton watching the course of the flames from across the wide stretch of flood waters believed the fire got its new start in the afternoon in the store of the Patterson Tool and Supply Company, on Third Street, just east of Jefferson, whence it ate its way west, apparently aided by escaping gas and exploding chemicals in two wholesale drug establishments.

Throughout the night fires lighted the sky and illuminated the rushing waters. Fifty thousand people were jammed in the upper floors of their homes, with no gas, no drinking water, no light, no heat, no food.

The flood at Watervliet, New York, showing buildings torn from their foundations and floating down the stream. Great damage and untold suffering resulted

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. The flood at Watervliet, New York, showing buildings torn from their foundations and floating down the stream. Great damage and untold suffering resulted

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Rescuer leaving one of the houses in the flooded district and removing a family to safety

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Rescuer leaving one of the houses in the flooded district and removing a family to safety

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The crest of the Dayton flood passed about midnight, but the next few hours allowed no appreciable lowering in the water. Wednesday morning brought little hope of immediate relief to those who spent the night in horror, however, and it was feared that the number of drowned had been greatly increased during the twelve hours of darkness.

Cloudy skies and a cold drizzling rain added to the dismal aspect of the city in the morning. The temperature fell steadily all night, and when daylight came the thermometers showed that it was only three degrees above freezing. The condition was welcomed, because it was expected that a hard freeze would aid materially in holding back the innumerable tributaries of the flooded streams and assist the earth in retaining the moisture that had been soaked into it steadily for the last five days.

By ten-thirty the water depth had lessened about two feet. All stores and factories in the main part of the town were flooded to a depth of from eight to ten feet. Numerous residences and smaller buildings collapsed, but any estimate of the property loss was impossible.

A morgue was established on the west side of the city, and efforts to recover the bodies and aid the suffering were pushed as rapidly as conditions permitted. Relief trains began to arrive in the stricken towns.

Adjutant-General Speaks, with a small detachment of troops and a squad of linemen and operators, left Columbus early Wednesday in an effort to reach Dayton. The attempt42 was made by means of motor boats and automobiles in the hope to establish adequate telegraph or telephone communication with Dayton.


A message from Governor Cox ordered the entire Ohio National Guard to hold itself in readiness to proceed to Dayton as soon as it was possible to enter the city.

"I understand the importance of having the militia there," he telegraphed.

Soon afterward notice was posted in headquarters of the emergency committee announcing that the city was under martial law, and several companies of soldiers arrived from neighboring Ohio cities.

The soldiers were employed to patrol edges of the burned district, and prevent looting of homes freed from the floods.

The hundreds of refugees in the Y. M. C. A. building and in the Algonquin Hotel were facing possible short rations. Their food supplies were becoming limited and drinking water was at a premium.

Forty boats were requisitioned by the city authorities and were patroling the city in an effort to save life and property. These craft were manned by volunteers.

In front of the Central Union Telegraph office the water was still running so swiftly that horses could not go through it without swimming. One boat went by with two men in it, rowing desperately, trying to keep the bow to the waves. The boat overturned, but both men escaped drowning by43 swimming to a lamp post. They clung to the post for half an hour before a rope could be thrown to them. After repeated casts the line fell near enough to them to be caught, and the men were drawn into the second story window of the building.

The telephone employees in the building fished chairs, dry goods boxes and a quantity of other floating property from the flood. The debris swept down the main business street with such force that every plate glass window was smashed.

Only one sizable building had collapsed up to noon so far as the watchers in the telephone office could learn. This structure, an old one, was a three-story affair, near Ludlow Street, occupied by a harness manufacturing concern.


More than 70,000 persons either were unable to reach their homes or, held in their waterlocked houses, were unable to reach land.

While those marooned in the offices and hotels were in no immediate danger of drowning there was no way food or drinking water could reach them until the flood receded. Those in the residences, however, were in constant danger both by flood and fire. First the frailer buildings were swept into the stream, many showing the faces of women and children peering from the windows. These were followed by more substantial brick buildings, until it became evident that no house in the flood zone was safe.

The houses as a rule lasted but a few blocks before disintegrating.44

Incidents without number were narrated of persons in the flooded districts waving handkerchiefs and otherwise signaling for aid, being swept away before the eyes of the watchers on the margin of the waters. Many of the rescue boats were swept by the current against what had been fire plugs, trees and houses. They were crushed. Canoes and rowboats shared the same fate. What life existed in the district which the water covered was in constant danger and helpless until the flood subsided.

Bodies were found as far out as Wayne Avenue, which is more than a mile from the river. At Fifth and Brown Streets the water reached a height of ten feet. At least one of those drowned met death in the Algonquin Hotel.

The rumor that the St. Elizabeth Hospital with 600 patients had been swept away, which gained circulation Tuesday night, proved to have been false.

Although it was impossible to reach the hospital, field glasses showed that the building was still standing. The water was not thought to be much above the first floor of the building, and it was hoped that the patients had not suffered.

Dayton was practically cut off from wire communication until late in the afternoon. Then two wires into Cincinnati were obtained and operators plunged into great piles of telegrams from Dayton citizens, almost frantic in their desire to assure friends outside of their safety. Operators at opposite ends of the wires reported that thousands of telegrams were piled up at relay offices. These were from people anxious over the fate of Dayton kinsmen.45

Two oarsmen who braved the current that swirled through the business section of the city reported that the water at the Algonquin Hotel, at the southwest corner of Third and Ludlow Streets, was fifteen feet deep. From windows in the hotels and business buildings hundreds of the marooned begged piteously for rescue and food. The oarsmen said they saw no bodies floating on the flood tide, but declared that many persons must have perished in the waters' sudden rush through the streets.

Oarsmen who worked into the outskirts of the business section at night reported that two hundred and fifty persons marooned in the Arcade building and two hundred imprisoned in the Y. M. C. A. building were begging for water.


Before the terror of fire had dwindled, gaunt hunger thrust its wolfish head on the scene. Famine became an immediate possibility. All of the supply and grocery houses were in the submerged district and there was not enough bread to last the survivors another day. Every grocer in the city was "sold out" before noon.

The flood came with such suddenness that food supplies in homes were whisked away by the torrent that reached to second floors in almost the flash of an eye. Skiffs skirted the edge of the flooded districts attempting to take food to those whom it was impossible to carry off, but the fierce current discouragingly retarded this work.

"Food, food, food," was the appeal that reached the outside46 world from the portions of Dayton north of the rivers. The plea came from a relief committee which started out in boats and met an employee of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company, who attempted to drive to Dayton. The telephone man immediately "cut in" on a line and transmitted the appeal.

The relief committee had progressed less than two miles from Dayton when they met the telephone employee. They told him that any and all kinds of provisions were needed and could be distributed, but the relief must come soon if indescribable suffering was to be avoided.

Police officers of Dayton who were able to get about at all were swearing in all available men as deputies, commandeering provisions and charging the expense to the State of Ohio. The available supplies were so slender, however, that thousands of persons on the north side of the river were already destitute. Efforts to learn the condition of the 2,500 inmates of the old soldiers' home on the west side brought a report that the institution was in no danger because of its location on a high hill.

Leon A. Smith, one of the relief committee in North Dayton, was sworn in as a deputy justice of the peace with power to enlist other deputies to preserve order, guard against crimes and relieve distress.

"What we need most," said Mr. Smith over the telephone, "is food for the living and assistance in recovering and burying the dead before an epidemic sets in."

Farmers in the vicinity offered their teams to haul towards47 Dayton any supplies that could be gotten together, and the housewives of the countryside denuded their pantries.

Relief committees issued the following statement:

"An awful catastrophe has overtaken Dayton. The centers of Dayton and the residence district from the fair grounds hill to the high ground north of the city are under water.

"Bring potatoes, rice, beans, vegetables, meat and bread and any other edibles that will sustain life.

"We have cooking arrangements for several thousand. We are sending trucks to nearby towns, but ask that you haul to us, as far as possible."

The first trainload of provisions from Cincinnati, with a detail of policemen to help in the rescue work, reached Dayton after being twelve hours on the road. This, with two cars from Springfield, relieved the immediate suffering. Word also was received that a carload of supplies was on the way from Detroit.

Encouragement was received in a message from the Mayor of Springfield, who said he was sending six big trucks loaded with provisions that should reach Dayton early Thursday. With the arrival of motor boats Wednesday night it was hoped to begin to distribute provisions among the marooned early next morning.

Messages from the flood's prisoners in the business section said children were crying for milk, while their elders suffered from thirst that grew hourly. Volunteers were called for to man boats and brave the dangerous currents in an attempt to get food to the suffering.48


Rescue work efficiently managed, in which John H. Patterson was a leading spirit, proceeded smoothly throughout the day. A boat, which was engaged in rescue work, capsized, and all of the crew but Frederick Patterson, son of John H. Patterson, were drowned. Young Patterson acted as captain of the crew.

Missing members of families were restored to their loved ones through human clearing houses established at several points in the fringe of the flood district. Great ledgers filled with names presided over by volunteer bank clerks were at the disposal of persons seeking missing kinsmen. If these had registered in the clearing house their addresses were quickly given to the inquirer.

Up to seven o'clock in the evening three thousand of the homeless were housed in different places of refuge, most of them being cared for at the plant of the National Cash Register Company. Scores of the waters' victims were being carried from their places of imprisonment late in the evening, and leaders of the rescuing parties were arranging for relays of torch bearers to light the work during the night.

The powerful current on each cross street made it impossible for those manning the rowboats to pass a street crossing without the aid of tow ropes. Lines were stretched in many places and trolley boat paths brought many victims out. Every automobile in the city was pressed into service and used to meet paths and take the refugees at once to the hospitals.49

"Our greatest need is a dozen motor boats and men to run them," was the message contained in an appeal sent out by Mr. Patterson. Skiffs and rowboats could not live in torrents rushing through the city's principal streets.

The big plant of the National Cash Register Company was made relief headquarters. As persons were rescued they were taken to a relief sub-station, where their names were recorded and they received first aid. At frequent intervals these lists were sent to relief headquarters and announced to crowds who waited in the rain for hours.

Two expert oarsmen, Fred Patterson and Nelson Talbott, conquered the current for a short distance on Main Street late in the afternoon.

"We penetrated to almost the center of the city," said Mr. Patterson. "Everywhere people yelled to us to rescue them, but it was impossible, for we were barely able to keep afloat. Large sums of money were offered us to take persons from perilous positions. The windows of the Algonquin Hotel seemed filled with faces, and the same conditions prevailed at most of the buildings we passed. We did not see any bodies, but the loss of life must have been great."

At Xenia a relief committee was organized to send supplies to Dayton. All the churches were made ready for Dayton refugees.


Two employees of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, John A. Bell, wire chief at Dayton, and C. D.50 Williamson, wire chief at Phoneton, Ohio, by unprecedented devotion to duty kept Dayton in touch with the world.

At midnight they had been on duty continuously for forty-eight hours, and, although there was no prospect of their being relieved, they gave not the slightest indication of any inclination to leave their posts.

Bell reached the Dayton office before the flood broke on Tuesday morning. The water came with such suddenness that all batteries and power were out of commission before any measure could be taken to protect them. This left the wires without current and effectually cut off Dayton. Bell rummaged around and found a lineman's "test set." With this he made his way to the roof of the building, "cut in" on the line to Phoneton and reported to Williamson, whose batteries were still in condition. Over this meagre equipment messages were exchanged by means of the underground wires of the company, which held up until after the noon hour Tuesday before the cable in which they were incased gave way. The break, however, was south of Dayton, and Phoneton was still in touch with the flood-stricken city.

Except for brief intervals, Bell remained on the roof of the building suffering the discomforts of pouring rain and low temperature, in order that the waiting world might have some word from Dayton.


Late in the afternoon several refugees told stories that gave an insight into conditions in East Dayton, hitherto unexplored.51 The flood victims declared they knew of no loss of life in this section, because a great number of people had availed themselves of warnings and fled.

A Mrs. Van Denberg, who remained until the flood enveloped her home, when rescued declared she had seen no bodies in the flood.

Sixty-five persons were marooned in the central police station. Nothing had been heard from Mayor Phillips, of Dayton, or from Brigadier-General Wood, marooned, it was believed, in North Dayton.

The whole story of the Dayton disaster probably never will be told—the heroism of men; the martyrdom of women; the mad hysteria that seized some and caused them to jump into the flood and death; the torture of despair that gripped those who, imprisoned in their homes by the water, waited in vain for help until the advancing flames came and destroyed them. The most heartrending feature of the situation was the pitiable terror of the women and children. Many of them sat up and sobbed through the night refusing to believe that their fathers had been drowned in the satanic waters.

Mrs. James Cassidy and her three children were brought from the flood last night. Mrs. Cassidy was grief-stricken over the report of the death of her husband by drowning. Even as she was being registered there was brought into rescue headquarters a drenched man who had to be carried.

"Jim! Jim!" suddenly shrieked the woman. "That's you, Jim, isn't it? You aren't dead, Jim. Say you aren't dead."52

Jim had been rescued from drowning. The return of James Cassidy was the one bit of joy in the awful gloom at the rescue headquarters, where gathered the victims of flood, fire and famine.


A woman, maddened by the horrors of the day, fought with Bill Riley and his companion, Charles Wagner, who had rescued her in a boat.

She bit Riley in the hand and choked Wagner, who sought to restrain her. The little boat swayed and was on the point of capsizing when the woman suddenly became calm and began to pray.

A big sturdy man cried like a child in the offices of the National Cash Register Company. He had been to the hospitals, the schools where refugees are housed and to the churches—but in none of these was his family.

In many similar cases relatives of the supposed dead were uncertain as to the fate of the missing. The money loss was heavy, but nobody cared about money loss, though it ran into the millions.

In this hour of Dayton's woe money apparently was the most useless thing in the world.

A graphic story was told by Edsy Vincent, a member of the Dayton fire department. His engine house was within a few doors of Taylor Street, where the break of the levee occurred.

The department watchers, fearing being flood-bound,53 sounded the fire call simultaneously with the break in the levee.

"When the horses, which were hitched in record time, reached the street," said Vincent, "we were met by a wall of water which must have been ten feet high. The driver was forced to turn and flee in the opposite direction to save the team and the apparatus."


The dark colors in these incidents were lightened here and there by stories of bravery exhibited by many of the flood prisoners.

A woman with three children marooned in the upper floor of her home on the edge of the business district called to the oarsmen:

"I know you can't take me off!" she cried, "but for the love of humanity take this loaf of bread and jug of molasses to Sarah Pruyn down the street; I know she's starving."

Twice the boatmen attempted to take the food, but waves that eddied about the submerged house hurled them back.


Numerous stories of looting were told, and many prisoners were locked up. In most cases these had entered houses and had been searching for valuables. A gang of roughs went through the southern part of the city late at night instructing the people to extinguish all lights for fear of a gas explosion and then began raiding. The police dispersed them.54

All day and all night strings of automobiles were going back and forth. Those coming to Dayton were seeking friends or relatives. Those going back had people to take back with them.

At night the temperature dropped suddenly. A blinding snowstorm and high winds followed close upon the fall of the thermometer. The blizzard weather caused added suffering. Survivors who escaped the horrors of a flood and fire stricken city at night were huddled roofless in an arctic storm. Countless men, women and children were marooned in the storm who had had no warm food or clothing since Tuesday morning.



Dayton in the Throes of Distress


When Thursday morning dawned on stricken Dayton the food situation which had threatened to become serious was relieved temporarily by the arrival of a special train from Richmond, Indiana, bringing seven cars of provisions. Quartermaster Logan also received word from the United States Army quartermaster general that 300,000 rations had been ordered shipped from Chicago, 100 ranges and one complete quartermaster depot from Columbus, 3,300 tents, 100 hospitals tents and 400 stoves from Philadelphia, and 300,000 blankets and 500 bedsacks from St. Louis or Cincinnati. Quartermaster Logan was authorized to purchase in open market all rations needed.56



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Showing the difficulties experienced by the rescuers in getting to the hundreds of people whose lives were imperiled by being caught in the flooded buildings

Showing the difficulties experienced by the rescuers in getting to the hundreds of people whose lives were imperiled by being caught in the flooded buildings

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Mayor of Cleveland getting motor boats ready for relief work in Northern Ohio. For days after the flood reached its height, even strong boats could reach many of the marooned people only with great difficulty and risk

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. Mayor of Cleveland getting motor boats ready for relief work in Northern Ohio. For days after the flood reached its height, even strong boats could reach many of the marooned people only with great difficulty and risk

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57The thing that made the situation most difficult for concerted rescue work was the peculiar geographical situation of the town. It is divided into six sections: central Dayton, comprising the down-town business district; West Dayton, the territory extending several miles west of the big Miami; Riverdale, the northeast, across the river from the central district; Dayton View, the extreme northeast; Southern Dayton, the manufacturing district in which the National Cash Register Company's plant is located and separated from the central district by lowlands which were deep in flood water, and North Dayton, northwest of the business district, across the river from the business section.


The river forms a horseshoe around the business district, making it impossible to reach that part until the torrents that poured down the valley should recede.

Dayton View, West Dayton and Riverdale were the only sections between which communication was possible.

The suburb of Riverdale up to Helena Street was penetrated by the down-town relief commission and conditions found much similar to those in the southern suburbs. Everyone was crowded to the second floors or roofs of their homes, but few of the more stable dwellings were washed away.

North of Burns Avenue as far as Fourth Street the water was found to be from three to six feet deep. Beyond Fourth Street the water had receded to make it possible in many places to proceed on foot.

Nothing was known of the foreign settlement in North Dayton close to the Miami River. It was this part of the city where the flood first made its way and where the occupants58 of the houses had ignored warnings to leave. It was here also that it was feared most of the deaths would occur. The only body found on Thursday was that of Charles Parker, a livery man, discovered in the court house yard.

Captain of Police H. E. Lackhart declared that water in North Dayton, Miami City and East Dayton reached the housetops. His estimate of the number of dead in that district was three hundred.

The bodies of a woman and a baby were seen floating down Jefferson Street, one of Dayton's main thoroughfares. It was thought that they came from the district north of the river.

A report which had been current in the water district south of Main Street that Brigadier-General Wood had been fatally injured by falling plate glass, proved to be untrue. He continued in full charge of the relief work, although his arm had been badly cut.

Parts of Main Street were impassable because of debris. At several points it comprised outbuildings that had struck more stable buildings and been dashed to pieces.

Hourly apprehension for the appalling sights to be uncovered when the waters return to normal was growing.


Pestilence was feared and sanitary and health officials mapped out their work. Sewers were burst by the flood, manholes were simply blown from the earth, and it was realized that many days must elapse before the water service could be restored and before street car companies could operate.59

Because of the lack of electric lights, and as a precaution against looting, military notices were posted, forbidding citizens to be on the streets between the hours of 6 P. M. and 5 A. M.

Word was received that a number of motor boats with men to operate them were on the way from Cleveland and Cincinnati.

The water receded rapidly during the day. An occasional snow flurry and biting gusts of wind added to the discomfort of the rescue crews, but they remained steadily at work.

The Emergency Committee began publication of an official newspaper from the plant of the National Cash Register Company. It was a one-sheet poster designed for free circulation in all accessible parts of the city. Its leading article warned the people to beware of thieves and burglars.

A thief was caught robbing homes of flood victims who had been taken to refuge stations. He was shot to death by state guardsmen.

The progress of the first canoe into the water-bound district was greeted by appeals for bread and water. In nearly every house left standing wistful faces were to be seen pressed against window panes. All of these were asked whether there had been any deaths and with only a few exceptions all replied that there had not.

Temporary morgues were established in the United Brethren Church and also at Fifth and Eagle Streets. At these points many bodies were cared for, chiefly those of women and children.60


Needless suffering was caused during the day by an announcement of the breaking of the Lewistown reservoir. Men rushed through the uptown streets shouting:

"Run for your lives! The reservoir has broken!"

There was really no danger. The reservoir contained 17,000 acres of water space, but it was pointed out that the flood extended over several million acres and the worst possible effect of the breaking of the reservoir would be to retard the rescues and could not cause a rise of more than a foot. The waters at the time were seven feet lower than the high water of Tuesday night.

The alarm was spread by a policeman who was posted on the edge of the flood district. Others were quick to take up the cry.

Soon thousands of men and women crowded the streets. Many of them fled for the hills, but hundreds hurled themselves past guards and into the main office building of the National Cash Register Building, which was already crowded.

Not until John H. Patterson, president of the company, had addressed the throng was any semblance of order restored.

Mr. Patterson was appointed military aide in the southeast district of the city, with full control under martial law. He at once ordered every available motor car and truck to scour the farmhouses south of the city and confiscate all available food supplies.

Colonel H. G. Catrow arrived with his military aides from Columbus in the afternoon and took charge of the militiamen.61


Sightseers of Springfield who sought to visit Dayton received a rude shock. On the first train to the stricken city from Springfield were fifty linemen and three coaches full of people on a sightseeing tour.

The Governor learned of this and on his orders when the train reached Dayton two soldiers were stationed at each car door and none but linemen were permitted to alight. The train was then run back to Springfield with its disappointed passengers.

The Governor then ordered guardsmen at Springfield to let none board trains for Dayton who did not have a military pass. The purpose in this was to prevent idle visitors draining the limited food resources of Dayton.


Dynamite, gasoline and lime were sent from Springfield as supplies for the sanitary corps ordered there to prevent the spread of disease and a feared epidemic. The dynamite was needed to blow up dangerous obstructions, the gasoline to burn rubbish and the lime for disinfecting purposes.

Mutiny broke out in the city workhouse, where one hundred prisoners were confined. Terror-stricken by the flood and fire, the prisoners were demanding freedom.

They beat at their cell doors and shouted imprecations at their keepers. Superintendent Johnson applied to the militia for help. One workhouse prisoner was released because he knew how to run the water-works pumps.62

The two hundred and fifty guests of the Algonquin Hotel were kept comfortable except for the continuous dread that the fire would spread to them. The water reached the second floor, but all the supplies had been moved to places of safety, and those in the hotel experienced little discomfort.

From Fourth Street to the Miami River, relief work was taken up by a committee headed by Chief of Police Allaback. All of the grocery stores were commandeered and, although in most cases the goods were covered with water, yet sufficient supplies were found to prevent great suffering among those in the interior dry strip.


One of the remarkable features was the cheerful spirit with which flood victims viewed their plight. This was Dayton's first big flood in many years. Much of the submerged area had been considered safe, but as the majority of residents of these sections looked out on all sides upon a great sweep of muddy, swiftly moving water, they seemed undisturbed.

In some of the poorer sections the attitude of the marooned was not so cheerful. As a motor boat passed beneath the second floor at one partly submerged house, a man leaned out and threatened to shoot the boat's occupants unless they rescued his wife and a baby that had been born the day before. The woman, almost dying, was let from the window by a rope and taken to a place of refuge.

Further on, members of a motor boat party were startled63 by shots in the second floor of a house, about which five feet of water swirled. The boat was stopped and a man peered from a window.

"Why are you shooting?" he was asked.

"Oh, just amusing myself, shooting at rats that come upstairs. When are you going to take me out of here?" he replied.

Three babies were born in one church during the afternoon. One was born in a boat while its mother was being conveyed to safety. Such scenes were common.


At the rescue stations the scenes enacted were heartrending and the most pitiful were witnessed at the temporary morgues. At the West Dayton morgue frantic crowds all day and night watched every body brought in, hoping against hope it was not that of some loved one.

Women became hysterical at times when searching for missing members of their families whom they had failed to find at the relief stations.

With the coming of nightfall Thursday the efforts to rescue more persons were slackened, and all of Dayton not in the central flood districts waited in dread for the nightly fires which had added horrors to the already terrible situation.

The flood situation at night appeared brighter than in the morning. The water had fallen from three to five feet, the currents of the river and creek had slackened, and there was food enough left for the town's breakfast and dinner.64

As Galveston and San Francisco pulled themselves together after calamity so Dayton began pulling itself together on Friday of the week of the flood. Emerging from the waters and privation, citizens began co-operating with those who rushed to the rescue from outside. Considerable progress was made toward the restoration of order and in giving relief to those in the worst distress.

Much cheer was taken from the fact that so far as loss of life was concerned it was not so great as had been feared, though no exact estimates were yet calculable.

Financially the citizens had a great burden to bear. Investigators on Friday put the figures of the losses at double that of the previous day, making it $50,000,000.


The down-town district was practically free of water. Fire engines pumped out the basement of the Algonquin Hotel, that the Algonquin's artesian well supply might be pumped into the empty city water mains for fire protection.

Water was still from ten to fifteen feet deep in certain districts of the west side. A mile of residences on Linwood Avenue had been swept clear and nothing remained to indicate that the street had existed.


In a tour of the business sections it was found that the high stage of the flood had been nine feet at Third and Main Streets, the heart of the city.65

The tower of Steele High School was levelled and the Leonard Building on Main Street was undermined so that it collapsed. Other buildings stood up.

The following buildings were found to have withstood the flood, furnishing shelter to about 7,000 people who were marooned in them since Tuesday: Conover Building, Kuhns Building, The Arcade, two Cappel Buildings, Callahan Bank Building, Schwind Building, Commercial Building, Mendenhall Building, Rike Kumler Building, Reibold Building, Elder & Johnson's building and United Brethren Publishing Company's building.


None of the public buildings was destroyed. Among these buildings were the Dayton Club, Victoria, National and Colonial theatres, city hall, court house, Beckel, Phillips, Algonquin and Atlas hotels, Masonic temple, post office, Y. M. C. A. and various churches.

The Log Cabin, 115 years old, the first house built in Dayton, still stood, although it is on the south bank of the Miami, right in the path of the flood.

The electric light and gas plants were safe from the high water. The city's water comes from a reservoir high above the river.

In Dayton less than one hundred bodies had been recovered by Friday night, though thousands were missing. The fire was out, however, and the flood had so receded that relief boats were able to get to practically all parts of the city.66


Every house in the flooded district was practically ruined. Streets were so clogged with wreckage that it was almost impossible to get through them.

"Strange to say, there was not much suffering in our particular neighborhood," declared George Armstrong, who had been marooned in the Capell furniture store building. "There was one woman with a three-weeks-old baby. We took excellent care of her. And did we pray? There never were such prayers in church. We had a case of whiskey and offered to send it off to persons who seemed exhausted. They refused to take it, although ordinarily they are not teetotallers."


Members of the United States life-saving crew of Louisville navigated sections of flooded Dayton heretofore unexplored, reporting conditions in North Dayton and Riverdale quite as deplorable as the first estimates concerning suffering were concerned.

Cruising the southern end of Riverdale, where it was feared there would be found a big death list, Captain Gillooly, in charge of the crew from the United States life saving station at Louisville, Ky., reported conditions paralleling those in other sections of the stricken city, but only two bodies were reported as having been recovered. The flooded territory in Riverdale, which is a section of substantial home owners, was approximately seventeen blocks long and seven blocks wide.67

After having descended the Miami River, Captain Gillooly reported that in the south central section of Dayton, where the flood flowed wildest on Tuesday night and Wednesday, thousands of persons still were imprisoned in upper floors of their homes. He stated that from numerous inquiries among people whose residences had been inundated it appeared the life loss would not be nearly so large as it was placed by first reports.

This section still was flooded, although the water rapidly was receding, and while a few corpses eddied out from the flood's edge, yet in the center of the area it was stated that only two bodies had been seen.


Captain Gillooly and his men distributed food and quantities of drinking water to a large number of the flood's prisoners. Arrangements also were made to provide the needy ones with the necessary supplies from time to time until the flood waters receded.

At many different points along the route stops were made and the crew detoured away from the rivers. It was found that many of these detours could be made afoot, the water having rapidly fallen since the night. At no place was the water behind the levees deeper than four feet.

The Louisville men took relief to several hundred families in the low district in the vicinity of Ludlow and Franklin Streets. Here the water had reached the roofs of all two-story buildings. Only a few of the most desperate cases were68 brought out, the first move being to leave bread and water in as many places as possible.

Sixty Catholic sisters at the Academy of the Sisters of Notre Dame and eighteen persons for whom they had provided refuge were found to have been without food or water since Tuesday. There were several cases of illness, and the suffering had been intense. The life savers left bread and water and planned to take further help.

Meanwhile Capt. H. A. Hansen and the crew from Cleveland were operating several boats in North Dayton. There many of the poorer class live, and few of the buildings were substantial. Dozens of them were swept away, upturned and shattered.

Mayor Phillips was still marooned in his house, and G. B. Smith, president of the Chamber of Commerce, continued in active aid of relief operations.

The Fourth National Bank Building, which was reported several times to have been destroyed by fire, was found untouched by the flames, although a building immediately adjoining was burned. The newspaper offices, the News and Herald and Journal buildings, were safe, but none was issuing papers.

The Cleveland battalion of engineers were the first of a horde of troops which began to pour into Dayton in the morning. They were immediately put at work distilling the water. The fifteen men of the Dayton Ohio National Guard companies, who had been on duty since midnight Tuesday, frankly had been unable to cope with the situation.69 The police force was also depleted by the fact that many of its members had been marooned by high water. The looter had been in high glee.


Strict martial law was put into force. With headquarters at Bamberger Park, Col. Zimmerman of the Fifth Ohio Regiment organized the forces of protection, and by noon every accessible section was under strict guard. Frequent fights and skirmishes were held with the pillagers, who sought to steal under the cover of darkness. Orders to shoot to kill looters on the third shot were issued to the militiamen. The pillaging of abandoned homes and stores and the slugging and robbing of men and women in the streets after nightfall had reached a desperate stage when the troops arrived, and drastic orders were necessary.

"Shoot at the legs first, and then shoot to kill," was the way the soldiers were instructed to act.

Colonel Zimmerman listened to thousands who sought passes to go through the flood area to reach marooned friends and kinsmen. Only a few were allowed to go, and these were compelled to prove special causes. To those who asserted they had starving friends, Colonel Zimmerman rejoined that provisions and medicines constantly were going into the inundated district.

"Be satisfied you're not dead yet," was the Colonel's disposition of many of the applicants.

All during the night and until dawn revolver and rifle70 shots had sounded. Most of the shooting was in the bottoms near the river, but about midnight there was a lively volley of shots, evidently an exchange of bullets, believed to have been between soldiers and pillagers.

A robbery was thwarted when the police arrested a man who was escaping from the city with a satchel containing $50,000 in diamonds and jewelry which he had stolen from downtown jewelry shops.

"Beware of thieves and burglars," said an official bulletin given wide circulation. "Don't leave your houses without protection. It was thieves who scared you about the reservoir and natural gas explosion. The natural gas has been turned off and there is no danger of explosions."


At three o'clock Friday morning it was unofficially announced that three pillagers had been shot to death in various parts of the city during the night.

Over in North Dayton, when the lowlands were inundated by the rush of the waters of the Mad River, the foreign population, which practically occupies that section, was driven to the upper floors and the housetops. With the extinguishing of the city's lights bedlam broke loose in various portions of North Dayton. Men in the frenzy of their trouble fell to desperate quarreling among themselves, and shots were heard at all hours of the day and night Wednesday and Thursday.

There were unconfirmed reports that more than a dozen71 murders had been committed. Troops were ordered into this district to stop the conflicts.


Problems of sanitation, the water supply and the reconstruction of the wrecked sewer system were resumed by engineers. Citizens were ordered to dig cesspools in their yards and to get rid of all garbage. Members of the State Board of Health, bringing carloads of lime and other disinfectants, reached here to ward off disease.

A report was circulated that an epidemic of typhoid fever and pneumonia had developed in Riverdale and West Dayton. It was ascertained, however, that not a single well-developed case of either disease was known in the sections mentioned, although there was considerable sickness among the refugees, particularly women and children, due to privation.

Three deaths from diphtheria in other sections were reported by Secretary of Health Board Miller.


The food situation was much brighter. The trucks sent from the Cash Register Company, manned by men with military orders to confiscate potatoes and food from the farmers, brought back a good supply of vegetables and several relief trains reached the city.

The problem of providing for refugees was bravely faced by an army of workers, many of whom came from neighboring cities equipped with car loads and train loads of food.72

"We can't tell how much we need," said John M. Patterson "and we don't know yet in just what shape we want some of the supplies. For instance, there came a carload of flour. We can use it later, but if that flour had been made into bread it would have been immediately available for the persons imprisoned in their homes whom it has been impossible to remove. We could take bread to them, but flour is not serviceable."

Many motor boats went into the flooded district taking food and water and bringing out persons who needed medical attention. Many of them were so weak from deprivation and suffering as to be scarcely able to move. Hundreds were taken to the Cash Register Hospital and other places where they could be aided.

Among those taken out of the Algonquin Hotel were Stephen Patterson and his wife. Mr. Patterson is a brother of John H. Patterson, the cash register manufacturer. Great anxiety had been felt for their safety and also for Mrs. Frank Patterson, a sister-in-law. The latter was found in her home on West Fifth Street.


In that section on the east side of the Miami River and north of the Mad River rescue work went forward with the two United States life-saving crews in charge. Hundreds of people living in upper stories and practically without food or water since Tuesday morning refused to leave their homes, believing they would have a better chance for safety there than elsewhere. Water and food were supplied them. Hundreds of others had left their homes, in some instances effecting exits by chopping holes through the roofs. Very few of these were accounted for.

While the flood was raging, hundreds of fires which started throughout the flooded States were left to consume millions of dollars worth of property, and to destroy many lives, because of the inability of the fire-fighters to get near the burning buildings

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. While the flood was raging, hundreds of fires which started throughout the flooded States were left to consume millions of dollars worth of property, and to destroy many lives, because of the inability of the fire-fighters to get near the burning buildings

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President John H. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, third man from the right, directing the work of rescue at Dayton, Ohio. Through his magnificent skill as an organizer, and his coolness of mind, scores of lives were saved that would otherwise have been lost, and a great deal of suffering was alleviated by his prompt measures of relief

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. President John H. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, third man from the right, directing the work of rescue at Dayton, Ohio. Through his magnificent skill as an organizer, and his coolness of mind, scores of lives were saved that would otherwise have been lost, and a great deal of suffering was alleviated by his prompt measures of relief

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73A central morgue was established at the Probate Court building, and as fast as possible identifications were made. Many of the bodies thus far recovered, however, presented difficulties in the way of identification.

Colonel Zimmerman reported that boatloads of provisions continuously were going into the still inundated districts. Milk for babies and medicine for invalids were not forgotten by the rescue squads. Governor Cox solved the problem of getting milk for Dayton's babies by confiscating in the name of the State the entire output of the Marysville dairies, and having it sent to the stricken city. The state also seized two cars of eggs at Springfield found in a railroad yard and sent them to Dayton.


The dead bodies were placed in coffins as soon as they were identified. These coffins and decent burial for the victims were paid for by the President of the National Cash Register Company, who footed most of the bills in the tremendous and efficient work of relief.

The weather was bitter cold, but the rain ceased to fall. Thousands of survivors who spent two nights marooned in buildings without light, heat or food on Friday night slept in warm beds.



The Recuperation of Dayton


Dayton passed Friday night in terror because of constant shooting by the militiamen. Just how many looters were killed was unknown, as information was refused. The facts figure only in military reports.

Fifty shots were fired between midnight and three o'clock Saturday morning within hearing of the main hospital quarters in the National Cash Register Building. Civil workers in the center of the town, where efforts were being made to clear away debris, reported that five looters were shot after midnight.

One of these was a negro who had succeeded in entering a Madison Street house where he was seen by a militiaman and75 shot in the act of looting. It is declared that only one of the five men shot was killed.

Orders were issued to the soldiers to inflict summary execution on corpse robbers—ghouls who sneaked through the business and residence streets like hyenas after a battle.

Dayton came out in force on Saturday to look around and judge for itself the extent of the tragedy that confronted its people. Business men with forces of assistants penetrated the business section and set about the task of learning whether they had been stripped of their possessions completely.

Haggard faces, worn out with sleepless nights and days of weary struggle and apprehension for the future, brightened with the flush of new-born hope as some of the searchers found that the flood had not proved completely disastrous for them.

Scores of business interests, not alone in the central section, but as well in the outlying manufacturing districts, faced ruin. The work of reconstruction, already in the forming, meant for them going back to the beginning for a fresh start, but on every hand one heard in spite of this words of hope and cheerfulness that the disaster was no greater.


The bitter cold gave way to a day of sunshine and comparative warmth. The military authorities lifted the ban on uninterrupted travel about the city. This privilege and the brightness of the day brought most of the people out of their discouragement and great throngs appeared on the streets.76 They found the death toll smaller than they had expected and the property damage, while almost crushing in the size of the figures it represented, not so utterly annihilating as was generally feared.

Military engineering experts began the work of extricating Dayton from its covering of debris, and its menace to general public health. H. E. Talbot, of Dayton, who built the Soo Locks, was placed in charge and the Pennsylvania Railroad sent in seventy-five engineers to assist him. While fifty additional experts appeared from other points, the Ohio National Guard Battalion of Engineers from Cleveland became a part of the organization to "sweep up" the city.

Relief from the suffering because of the closing down of the public utilities bade fair to be accomplished by Sunday. The city lived up to its motto "Dayton does" with the amendment that if it cannot find a way it will make one.

With real philosophy and high courage its people set about the arduous task of retrieving the ground and the fortunes they lost. The lives that were taken by the disaster were not sacrificed in vain. The Citizens' Committee, headed by John H. Patterson, the relief agency, and H. E. Talbot, determined to find a way to protect the city against a repetition of the horrors of the week.

Things looked brighter. It was announced that on Sunday the water would be turned on in all the mains that were not broken, in order to give pure drinking water to practically the entire city, something the sanitary and engineering experts were working for as imperative if epidemics were to77 be avoided. Until such time as the city mains could be used, water was distributed from artesian wells by water carts and in kegs, which were carried to the various districts by the "flying squadron" of the auto relief corps.


Secretary of War Garrison and his staff arrived at Dayton at noon, and immediately went into conference with John H. Patterson, chairman of the committee of fifteen, in charge of the relief work.

Soon after Mr. Garrison arrived the relief committee began to call local physicians to consult with him to determine whether to place the city under federal control. It was said Dayton's sanitary condition appeared to warrant the presence of federal troops and government health experts.

It was later decided to leave the city in control of the state militia and the local committee, except that sanitary experts from the federal health service should be brought to Dayton. Mr. Garrison stated that Major Thomas Rhoades, in co-operation with Major James C. Normoyle, would have charge in Dayton. Major Normoyle had experience in furthering relief in the Mississippi flood district last year.


Secretary Garrison gave out the substance of his telegram to President Wilson as follows:

"I find the situation at Dayton to be as follows:

"The flood has subsided so that they have communication with all parts of the city, no one being now in any position of78 peril or without food or shelter. The National Cash Register plant has been turned into a supply depot and lodging place for those who have no other present place.

"Surgeon General Blue and some of his officers are here, as are also some naval surgeons. We are all working in concert. The Governor, the Mayor, the local committees and the citizens have all expressed much gratitude for the action of the National Government, and have welcomed us warmly, all of them stating that the fact that a direct representative has been sent to their community has been of the greatest benefit to the morale of the situation.

"I find a competent force is already organized to clean up the streets, remove the debris and do general work of that description and has agreed to work under the direction of the army surgeon I leave in charge of sanitation. The National Guards have their Brigadier-General, George H. Wood, here in command of the military situation and he has cordially offered to co-operate in every way with our work of sanitation.

"I think that the situation here is very satisfactory and that this community will find itself in a reassured position within a very short time and facing only then the problem of repair, restoration and rehabilitation.

"I will go back to Cincinnati tonight to get into touch with matters left unfinished there and will go to Columbus at the earliest moment. Governor Cox tells me that he thinks matters are in a satisfactory condition at Columbus; that he has ample immediate supply of medicines and other necessities; and that much of each is on the way. The weather79 is very fine and there does not seem to be any cause for apprehension of further floods in the vicinity of Dayton."


Efforts were made to clear away debris in sections where the flood water had run off, and it was feared bodies might be found in these masses of wreckage. With well organized crews doing this work, others took food to persons still marooned in Riverdale and North Dayton.

The two hundred and fifty persons marooned in the Algonquin Hotel, in the heart of the flood district, moved from their prison after the waters had receded. Most of them said there was a general scare at the fire which burned along Jefferson and Third Streets, on Wednesday night. There was one death in the hotel, Johnny Flynn, a bell boy. Several of the guests organized the majority after the flood waters had cut off escape on Tuesday, and for three evenings programs of entertainments were given in the hotel dining-room. It was decreed by a safety committee that any person who declined to contribute to the entertainment would be compelled figuratively to walk the plank. There were no dissenters.

Among those marooned in hotels were one hundred from New York, Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston and St. Louis. All were safe.

A brilliant sunshine threw an uncanny light over the distorted scenes in the areas where the homes of 75,000 people80 were swept away or toppled over. A view down almost any street revealed among the wreckage, tumbled-over houses, pianos, household utensils and dead horses brushed together in indescribable confusion. At two points the bodies of horses were seen still caught in the tops of trees.

Digging bodies out of the mud was the chief work of rescuing parties. The water had drained off from almost all the flooded area. In some instances the mud was several feet deep.

The rush of the currents claimed the greatest toll of lives, judging from how most of the bodies recovered were found. They were washed up onto the ground from new-made rivers and many were found buried in the wreckage. In moving this workmen moved carefully, fearing they might tread upon bodies, but they were not found in groups.

It was anticipated that the majority of the bodies of flood victims would be found buried under the debris in the Miami Canal under great piles of wreckage and far down the Miami River, at Miamisburg, Middletown and Hamilton. Those who were drowned for the most part were caught in the streets either while on their way to their places of business and employment or while trying to get to places of safety when forced to flee from their houses. Lieutenant Leatherman, surgeon of the Third Regiment, O. N. G., who went through the flood in West Dayton, said that he saw scores of dead bodies floating down the Miami River and many people were swimming, but there was not one chance in ten thousand that these were saved, he said.81

The policing of the city by the military was reorganized with Brigadier-General George H. Wood commanding and Captain Tyrus G. Reed as Adjutant General. The city was turned over into a military district of five military zones, and rigid orders were laid down for the conduct of its affairs.

Chairmen of the various committees were unanimous in asking that word be spread broadcast that mere sightseeing visitors were not wanted. The railroads were informed of this attitude and conductors refused to accept passengers who could not show that their presence here was necessary. There were thousands of visitors in the city. Most of them were from surrounding towns.


The work of extending succor to the marooned inhabitants of the districts which were still flooded continued during the day. In many sections were to be seen rowboats, skiffs and canoes making their way with extreme difficulty among the heaps of wreckage and overturned houses among tangled meshes of telegraph, telephone and electric light wires, seeking out possible victims who had been uncared for.

Among the organizations engaged in rescue work was the company of naval reserves from the United States ship Essex at Toledo, under command of Captain A. F. Nicklett. The company reached Dayton on a special relief train from Toledo Thursday and immediately launched a number of boats on the raging torrents which were sweeping the city from end to end. Up to six o'clock Saturday night the sailors82 had been constantly on duty and had to their credit a total of 979 lives saved, and they were not thinking of sleep when darkness fell.

One crew in command of Ensign E. E. Diebald, with two boats, rescued 375 persons from the business section and that district immediately east of Main Street and west of Eagle Street. Many of the people were taken from their homes only after the sailors had mounted to the tops of partially overturned houses and chopped their way through to the attics where the inmates were huddled together waiting for death to enter.

Another crew under Junior Lieutenant Ross Willoh succeeded in saving 360, while three boats in command of Senior Lieutenant Theodore Schmidt rescued 244 persons. The majority of these latter were taken from box cars, warehouses, freight sheds and grain elevators in the railroad yards. It was here that the water attained its greatest violence, rushing in whirlpools between the irregular buildings on either side of the tracks. Navigation was extremely perilous on account of many submerged box cars, flat cars and overturned sheds.

Several times the sailors were capsized, but managed to keep with their boats and right them again. Not a single life was lost either among the reserves or among the hundreds whom they attempted to rescue.

While sailors worked incessantly to save lives, Lieutenant Walter Gayhart, also of the ship's company, succeeded in establishing a supply station on East Fifth Street, where many83 refugees congregated, and issued rations to the suffering. He slept Saturday night after seventy-one hours of continuous labor.

With the additional military forces which arrived the city was thoroughly policed. At night the city was in darkness again. It was impossible to do much relief work at night and the curfew order was due in part to the advisability of keeping the men where they could protect their own households if necessary.


The distribution of food supplies and clothing and relieving of distress was put on a business basis. Supplies reached Dayton in large quantities, and the relief stations were sufficiently organized to take care of the incoming refugees from the flood districts. The problem of caring for the homeless was still serious, but with all promise of warm weather it was hoped there would be less suffering. Health officers reported that there was only one car of lime in the city, and there was great need of more.

Fifteen thousand persons were subsisting on rations given out under direction of the relief committee. Ten thousand of these, it was estimated, were in their homes, and food was carried to them in boats and automobiles. About five thousand were being cared for at the relief stations. This showed a marked reduction in the number of persons being publicly fed.

There was plenty of food, and it was placed into baskets in lots to serve five persons for two days. Over candles84 given out with the food the people boiled coffee, but the other food was eaten cold. There was no gas and little coal.

Announcement was made by the relief committee that until conditions became normal, no private messages to persons here would be delivered or answered, as the wire capacity was taxed to the utmost to carry official and public business.

Major Dupuy stated that he feared an epidemic of some kind unless the most rigid sanitary rules were enforced.


Major Dupuy stated that the city had been divided into six sanitary districts, each district in charge of an officer of the sanitary corps of the National Guard. Strict orders regarding the disposition of garbage were issued and the people were advised, by means of bulletins posted in conspicuous places in the streets, how best to preserve the public health.

Several cars of lime reached the city and many more were en route from different points. A carload of ambulance supplies was on the way from Cincinnati.

Members of the Citizens' Relief Committee were apprehensive of a water famine. It was believed there was little chance that the present supply could be made to last until the water mains were in use again. R. H. Grant, head of the Relief Supplies Committee, issued an appeal to all cities in the country asking that as much bottled water as possible be shipped to Dayton immediately.

It was especially desired that this water be strictly pure,85 as it was practically impossible to boil the water for drinking purposes.

Considering the number of persons affected by this flood, there was comparatively little sickness, the cold weather being responsible for this to a great extent. The cold caused great suffering among those marooned without food, water, or heat, but in the end it proved a blessing.

Dr. William Colby Rucker, Assistant Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, who arrived from Washington at the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, with Surgeon General Rupert Blue, gave the following outline of the sanitary conditions existing in the city:

"A survey of conditions in Dayton today shows that the sanitary situation is not so bad as was at first thought. Citizens have been warned to boil all drinking water and to bury refuse. City water is now flowing under twenty-pound pressure. Sewers in some sections are again in operation. The city expects to have others working tomorrow.

"The city has been divided into six sanitary districts and tonight physicians who have been sworn in as district sanitary officers are being instructed as to their precise duties as heads of these districts."


Pathetic scenes, so intense as to bring tears to the eyes of undertakers, were witnessed when scores of fear-stricken parents and children walked down the rows of dead lying upon slabs in the temporary morgues.86

In Riverdale and North Dayton, where the flood waters attained the greatest depth and degree of destructiveness, several thousand persons waded knee-deep in slimy mud, rummaging their desolated homes for clothing. All of this, of course, was soaked and plastered with mud, but it was dried on the hillsides, where the populace had taken refuge. In some places in these districts the water had so far receded as to render possible the beginning of the work of cleaning the lower floors of the mud and debris.

The dead line around Riverdale, where the water remained about three feet in depth around most of the houses, continued to be maintained in order to guard against looting during the absence of residents. It was estimated that not more than a week would be required to immunize all homes requiring it outside of the Riverdale section, to free them from water and prepare them for cleansing.


Following are some of the things accomplished since the flood broke over the city Tuesday morning:

The water-works pumping station was in operation, but the distribution of water was greatly retarded by open pipes in wrecked houses. The pressure was feeble, but growing stronger as leaks were checked.

The main sanitary sewer was in operation, although many of the laterals leading from houses were clogged with mud and backed-up water.

The flood sewers, separate from the sanitary, were almost87 ready for service. These sewers carry off the rainfall from the gutters, and were needed to remove the water being pumped from basements.

Sightseers in motor cars felt the heavy hand of public necessity when General Wood began impressing machines. The sightseers were ordered from their cars and the latter were pressed into public service. Protests were unavailing. The more stubborn surrendered at the points of rifles, and gave up their cars "until released by order of the chairman," as the placards placed in them read.

The militia also began impressing citizens into service as workers. Men who had the appearance of being able-bodied, but idle, were questioned by officers of the National Guard; if they had not good reason for being in the streets, and no duties of a mandatory nature, they were pressed into service.

The Sixth regiment, O. N. G., from Toledo and northern Ohio towns, which had been on duty in Dayton, commandeered a train when ordered to Cincinnati and departed before nightfall. The naval reserves from Toledo went on train.

Coroner J. W. McKemy estimated that one hundred bodies had been recovered, though there was record of only seventy-two. He said some had been buried without usual official action and that in some cases he did not expect to get records.

The postoffice was put out of business on Tuesday and it was not until Sunday that any sort of service was attempted. Telegraph and telephone service was almost entirely crippled until Saturday night, when even short messages were accepted only on condition that the sender assent to indefinite delays.88

Telegrams were relayed through Cincinnati. The only long-distance telephone wires in service were two private wires connecting with Cincinnati. On those who succeeded in securing permission to use these wires a time limit of three minutes conversation was imposed.

No braver services were performed during the flood than those by the telegraph and telephone linemen who made possible the dissemination of news to hundreds of thousands of friends and relatives of Daytonians. They waded and swam icy floods and entered tottering buildings unhesitatingly in pursuit of their duty. Operators who had not removed shoes or clothing since last Tuesday were found Saturday.


Direct railroad communication was established Sunday night with Springfield, Ohio, Cincinnati and Richmond, Indiana. The Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton lines, on which Dayton passenger traffic depended mostly, were not working. The tracks leading into the Union Station were completely blocked and the few trains arriving discharged their passengers on the outskirts of the city.

H. E. Talbott, who was commissioned by Governor Cox, chief engineer of the military zone, completed his plans for beginning the rehabilitation of the city. He announced that four departments had been created, with an assistant engineer in charge of each. One had charge of rebuilding the streets and alleys; another the levees along the rivers; another the sewerage system, and still another the bridges.

Life lines strung across one of the streets. The rescuers caught persons carried down on wreckage in the raging flood and brought them to a place of safety

Photograph by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Life lines strung across one of the streets. The rescuers caught persons carried down on wreckage in the raging flood and brought them to a place of safety

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Man walking along the telephone cables after escaping from his house, which was washed away by the flood. The houses in the center have been washed from their foundations and are floating away

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Man walking along the telephone cables after escaping from his house, which was washed away by the flood. The houses in the center have been washed from their foundations and are floating away

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89Hundreds of persons still looking for relatives passed along the lines at the morgues, fearing they should find their loved ones there. Only a few bodies had not been identified.

Because of the city's financial condition, the problem of paying the costs of rejuvenation caused great concern. The treasury was practically empty, and the borrowing capacity would be exhausted when $900,000 was raised. It was planned to seek immediate relief from the Legislature.

By order of Governor Cox, the reign of martial law over Dayton was extended to take in the whole county. The flood did more than sweep away property, for it swept away the city administration, temporarily at least, and brought in what amounted to a commission form of government.

The extension of the area under martial law developed from action taken by local dealers whose places were closed. They complained that saloons on the outskirts were sending whiskey into the city, and that considerable drunkenness had been observed. Brigadier-General Wood reported the situation to the Governor, and his action was prompt and decisive.


As soon as martial law was proclaimed, the municipal administration was eclipsed. Brigadier-General Wood for the moment became supreme under the Governor. On the heels of this Mr. Patterson was appointed chairman of a committee of five to administer the affairs of the city. The militia was instructed to obey his orders and thus became a police force.90

Under martial law the city enjoyed the free services of the biggest business men and the most expert professional men in Montgomery County.

Citizens who ventured into the streets were impressed from the time they left their doors that Dayton is steadied and perhaps somewhat depressed by the absolute grip of martial law. Soldier government was maintained inexorably. Owners of business places could not set foot on their property without the permission of the khaki-clad militiamen, standing at the curbs with loaded carbines. If a citizen found himself some distance from his home when the curfew rang at 6 P. M. his return was beset with much difficulty, because of the necessity of halting by the many sentries he encountered.

A citizen fearsome enough to venture from his threshold after 8 P. M. literally took his life in his hands, because the fingers of the militia rested on hair triggers.

Nine colored men and one white man were added to the seven suspected looters shot and killed since martial law was proclaimed. Absolute secrecy concerning the deaths was maintained by the military authorities. Citizens who heard repeated firing between midnight and dawn in the business center of Dayton and near Ludlow Street, in which were located many of the handsomest homes in Dayton, spread these reports. The reports were confirmed in a non-committal way by militiamen who were on duty in these sections, who admitted they had fired ball cartridges as a "warning" to suspected looters.

The most detailed account of the death of the white man91 had it that he was halted near Main and Third Streets shortly after 2 A. M. He had one hand behind his back, and when ordered to open it two watches fell to the pavement. He was then searched and eighteen watches were found in his pockets. The sentry called a corporal's squad of six militiamen and reported the loot found on the prisoner. The prisoner was led to the wall of a near-by building, faced toward the wall, and the squad, which had received instruction from its commander, fired. A white band with a red insignia, made apparently to simulate a Red Cross badge, was taken from the man's arm, and the body was thrown into the canal.


The nine colored men reported as killed were discovered by sentries in various parts of the city. A dozen militiamen on duty near Main and Third Streets, about 2 A. M., said that they had heard firing at the locality named, but attributed it to warning shots. One of the men said that a sergeant in his company told of shooting and killing a colored man Friday night, when the man tried to escape in a boat on the Miami Erie Canal.

Brigadier General George H. Wood, when asked about the reports of squad-firing and the deaths of ten suspected looters, said:

"There was some squad-firing after midnight by sentries posted in the Ludlow section, where are located the homes of some of Dayton's wealthiest citizens. But neither there nor in other sections of the city where shots were fired was any92 one killed. The report that executions followed the detection of militiamen caught looting are without foundation. There have been no drumhead or other courtmartials and none will take place while I am in command here in Dayton.

"We have the situation well in hand. I have 1,400 doing sentry duty throughout the city and I intend to guard homes and suppress all lawlessness."

In spite of the rigor of this military government of Dayton, praise of General Wood's administration was heard on every side. Citizens discredited the stories of executions of looters and were not over-inquisitive of details, because they realized that drastic measures were imperative under the existing conditions.

In accordance with suggestions made Saturday by Secretary of War Garrison and General Leonard Wood, chief of staff, Major Thomas L. Rhoades, President Wilson's military aide, took charge of the sanitary campaign and permanent relief organization. He had for his chief lieutenant Eugene T. Lies, of Chicago, who was in command of the Red Cross forces. Investigation of the financial standing of every householder whose home has been damaged by the flood was begun. In worthy cases money or materials with which to make repairs were furnished from the Red Cross funds.


Major Rhoades took up plans for establishing a tented camp in North Dayton in which to shelter residents of the flood districts. These flooded homes were inspected and when93 found to be unsanitary the occupants were invited to take up quarters in the tented camp. Where the invitation was refused recalcitrants were escorted by a corporal's guard to the camp and compelled to remain there until their homes were cleaned and fumigated. Major Rhoades was supported by the militia in carrying out a policy to immunize every home in Dayton if necessary, and thus minimize the danger of epidemics.

The medical authorities forbade the use of old clothing until after it had been fumigated. It was urged upon the general public that old clothing was not desirable for fear it might bring a pestilence in some form to a city unable to cope with more disaster.

Nothing to indicate the approach of an epidemic due to flood conditions was reported, although the number of diphtheria cases was slightly above normal. Eight persons suffering from diphtheria were at the Miami Valley Hospital. Seven of them were caught in a house with a person who had recently become ill with the disease. Four persons hemmed in with one who had measles were suffering with that disease. Typhoid fever and pneumonia were a little more prevalent than usual. Clear skies and warm sunshine contributed to the comfort of the city and made possible good progress in the work of redemption.

Two hospitals in Dayton were flooded on the first floor, so all sick and injured were taken either to the Great Miami Hospital or to the state insane asylum. Eight persons whose minds temporarily became affected because of hardships suffered in the flood were cared for at the latter place.94

With warmer weather, the greatest problem was the removal of the carcasses of dead horses. Every available automobile truck and all the horse-drawn drays were impressed by the sanitary officials and hundreds of men were engaged all day removing the carcasses to the different incinerating plants and to vacant lots on the outskirts of the city, where they were burned.

George F. Burba, Governor Cox's private secretary, reported to the state's executive that there were 40,000 persons in Dayton who must be fed and sheltered for at least a week, and 10,000 who were destitute. The latter were without either sufficient clothing or food, and until business activities were restored, they had to be financed and maintained in lodgings until they could become self-supporting.

Theodore A. Burnett and T. H. Smith, government food inspectors, took charge of the food supply, in so far as inspection was concerned, and appointed twelve deputies. All shipments of supplies from other places were carefully examined before being given to the refugees. Particular attention was paid to meats and canned goods.

Announcement was made that the particular need of the people was drinking water, shoes, clothing, picks and shovels. Money also was wanted, although a considerable amount had already been subscribed by cities throughout the country.

Food was on hand in ample quantities, free to all, but the variety was limited to staples such as beans, potatoes, bread and canned vegetables. Of fresh meat there was practically none and butter and eggs were scarce. All food supplies95 were those contributed by the outside world and distributed from the various relief depots on the requisition of householders. Neither provision nor other stores received any consignment of goods.

Citizens and visitors alike were impressed with the facts that Dayton's condition was distressing. A review of the streets from sunrise until the curfew bell's toll furnished a practical illustration of this. Except for the comparatively few householders who had supplies on hand in considerable quantities, daily sustenance was secured by the market basket method. This was as true of the fairly well-to-do families as of the laboring classes.


The head of a family made out a requisition each morning stating his needs for the day. This requisition was presented at any of the supply depots, and on it were issued rations consisting of potatoes, canned meats, prunes or preserves, beans, biscuits or bread. Men, women and children with their baskets were seen in the streets throughout the day.

Most of the absolutely destitute were cared for in one or another of the buildings comprising the huge plant of the National Cash Register Company, which is on high ground at the southern end of the city, untouched by the flood. On the ninth floor of the administration building, known as the office's club, and where there is a dining room with a capacity for 1,000, more than 5,000 destitute persons were fed daily. The menu for Sunday was a typical one, as follows:96

Breakfast—Oatmeal and milk, coffee and bread.
Dinner—Vegetable soup, stewed canned meat, stewed corn, coffee and bread.
Supper—Bean soup, potatoes, coffee or tea and bread with butter.

John F. Patterson, head of the plant, had his dinner in this general dining room on Sunday. The only luxuries enjoyed by him and not provided for the others were hard-boiled eggs and preserved peaches. Among the most active of the uniformed waitresses was Mr. Patterson's nineteen-year-old daughter. Volunteer waitresses helped out their paid sisters during these days of hardship.

Monday in Dayton was much like the days that immediately preceded it, except that rapid progress was made toward the restoration of the city to a habitable condition. Electric current was supplied Monday night in a limited residential district and in a few downtown buildings, and the narrow zone of street lighting was extended. Automobile fire engines were brought overland from Cincinnati to assist in pumping out basements.

Ample telegraph equipment was installed in the Beckel House. Thousands of telegrams remained undelivered, and it was still impossible for the telegraph companies even to attempt delivery. The line of citizens waiting in front of the Western Union's temporary office, to ask for messages from friends, extended during the morning a full block.

The Bell Telephone system promised partial restoration of service by Tuesday. Its plant manager, John A. Bell,97 complained of his linemen having been impeded by refusal of guardsmen to honor the military passes. This was called to the attention of Brigadier General Wood, commanding the Ohio Guard, and relief was given.

Practically no newspapers had been received here since Tuesday and the people of Dayton grew very anxious to learn of conditions in other cities. News of the death of J. P. Morgan first reached the public through a bulletin posted by a representative of the Associated Press. Later the Dayton News, whose plant was inundated, put a two-page paper on the street in which a few details of the death of the financier were printed.

Impressed and volunteer laborers were put to work Monday refilling the broken levees. Removal of dead animals was the most pressing work of sanitation.

Major Thomas L. Rhoads, President Wilson's aide and personal representative in charge of sanitary work, said that the situation was quite encouraging; that hospital facilities so far were ample; no epidemics of disease were in evidence and in two weeks there would be substantial relief, although it would require two months to remove the dirt and debris.


Monday for the first time, offensive odors came from the mud and slime that was shovelled into the streets by householders and storekeepers. In this work men, women and children were engaged. Wives of prominent citizens were seen with shovel and hoe, some of them wearing their husbands'98 trousers and rubber boots, doing as best they could the work of men.

On Monday, John H. Patterson, chairman of the Citizens' Relief Committee, issued the following statement:

"Our committee has now at its disposal all the food and clothing necessary. Money, however, is required to put our city in condition to prevent the outbreak of diseases and to rehabilitate the thousands, many of whom have lost their homes entirely and all of whom have lost their household and personal effects.

"The committee sends an urgent appeal to the citizens of the United States for the necessary funds. All contributions should be sent direct to W. F. Bippus, treasurer of the relief committee."


In the bread-line on Monday was Eugene J. Parney, a multi-millionaire, whose gifts to charity have been very large and who recently included $25,000 to the Y. M. C. A. of this city. The day after the flood he was offering $1,000 for enough wood alcohol to heat malted milk for his infant grandchild. Monday he was no more successful in buying provisions. He appeared with a basket on his arm, rubbed elbows with those nearest in the motley line and apparently none was more grateful than he when his basket was filled with beans, potatoes, canned vegetables, rice and other staples. He was eager to pay for his supplies, but money is refused at the supply depots. It was arranged to change this system on Tuesday to enable those well able to pay to do so.99

Fred B. Patterson, only son of John H. Patterson, stopped work in the morgue at his father's factory long enough to tell for the first time of the part he took in the rescue work. Like his sister Dorothy, who worked as a waitress feeding refugees, young Patterson was doing the things that many poor men had avoided.


Orville Wright, the aeroplane builder, and his family, who had been marooned in the west side, reported to relief headquarters on Monday. The flood stopped just short of wiping out of existence the priceless models, records, plans and drawings—all in the original—of the Wright brothers, who gave the airship to the world.

Out in West Dayton live the Wrights—Orville, his father, Bishop Wright, and Miss Katherine Wright, the sister, in a small, unpretentious frame house. Orville Wright and his father and sister were in the old homestead when the flood swept in.

The aged father was placed in a boat, but instead of conveying him to a place of safety, the boatman carried him to a house nearby where he was marooned until the waters subsided three days later. Orville Wright and his sister escaped to safety on an auto truck, being carried through four feet of water.

In fleeing, however, the inventor of the aeroplane was compelled to abandon the small factory adjoining the homestead in which were stored all of the originals from which the100 plans for the air craft were perfected. Had these gone, there would have remained nothing of the priceless data save what exists in the brain of Orville Wright.

At the height of the flood a house adjoining the factory took fire. There were no means to fight the flames. For several hours the factory was in peril, but a special providence protected it and it came out of both flood and fire unscathed.

"We were lucky," said Orville Wright, whimsically, on Monday. "It is the irony of fate that at the critical moment I was not able to get away with my folks on one of my own machines. However, we came through all right and there doesn't seem to be anything more to be said."

Just one week after the coming of the deluge Governor Cox entered his home city for the first time, accompanied by several of the members of the Ohio Flood Relief Committee.

Governor Cox praised Mr. Patterson for his invaluable part in the relief work. "Mr. Patterson is the one man who is in the eye of America more than any one other man," said the Governor.

Mr. Patterson, after he returned Tuesday night in company with H. E. Talbott, chief engineer, from a tour of sections of Dayton that were swept by the flood, issued a statement in which he said:

"Dayton is facing one of the gravest problems that any city of the world ever faced and we want the world to know we need money and food for our stricken people."

In speaking of a tentative plan to ask the Federal Government101 for a loan of from $20,000,000 to $40,000,000 to be used in reconstruction work, Mr. Patterson said:

"At a meeting of bankers and officials of the building associations this evening it was decided to make an appeal for Federal aid. The banks and building associations have $60,000,000 worth of assets which they will put up as collateral. It may be deemed advisable to ask the Government to give us some financial assistance. We feel that the disaster is an emergency which would justify extraordinary action on the part of Congress."

Since Sunday more than $750,000 in cash was received from banks in Cincinnati to replace damaged money in local banks which remained closed until April 8th.


Mr. Talbott estimated that the property loss in Montgomery County totaled at least $150,000,000. He declared that one manufacturing company alone had lost half a million dollars.

Although several carloads of provisions were received on Tuesday, officials in charge of relief work stated that the food situation was a matter of grave concern. "We must have rations for more than 100,000 people for an indefinite period," Mr. Patterson declared.

A carload of automobile tires, contributed by an Akron rubber company for use in relief work, arrived on Tuesday.

One of the great losses sustained from the flood was that which befell the public library. An inspection of the institution102 disclosed the fact that the children's library, the medical library and the reference library had been wiped out of existence. Included in the loss were all the public and official accounts and copies of the newspapers dating from the first issues, back in 1822, none of which could be replaced.

County Coroner John McKemy, who in the week following the flood handled nearly one hundred bodies, said that at least twenty-five bodies were disposed of before he was released from his imprisonment by the flood. He estimated that the number of lives lost from the flood in Dayton exceeded two hundred.


So day followed day in the recuperation of Dayton; but, looking ahead, it was evident to the magnificent corps of expert men in charge of the work that months must elapse before all Daytonians could again live in their own homes. There were 15,000 residences to plaster and paper before they could be occupied. There were 4,500 houses to build foundations under, to straighten, re-roof, put in doors and windows, rebuild chimneys and make other repairs before their owners could move in again. There were 2,000 houses to raze and new structures to be built.

The Citizens' Relief Committee, on advices from engineers, decided that this reconstruction work would require four months, even if building material could be obtained promptly.

So far as the business and industrial buildings were concerned, it was estimated by architects who looked over the103 different premises that it would require eight months before repair work and rebuilding could be accomplished. In the interim business was done in whatever premises were available.

Thousands of men were employed, together with many teams of horses, and work was pushed to the utmost in all departments. Surveys of the damage done were made and large quantities of material were ordered by telegraph, to be shipped immediately.

Generations must come and go before the Dayton flood will be forgotten, and standing out in bright contrast with all else there will perhaps remain longest the inspiring picture of the energy and fortitude with which the stricken residents set about the retrievement of their city from the devastation of the angry waters.



Dayton: "The City of a Thousand Factories"


Dayton has stood in the shadow of disaster from flood ever since its foundation. No less than six times previous to the present inundation have the rivers which flow through it left their accustomed courses and brought death and destruction of property upon the town. The first of these floods occurred in 1805, the very year that Dayton was incorporated as a town. The sixth was in 1898 and the others in the years 1847, 1863, 1866 and 1886.

The site of the present city was purchased in 1795 by a group of Revolutionary soldiers and laid out as a town in the following year by one of them, who named it after Jonathan Dayton, a Jerseyman who had fought in the Revolution and who later served in Congress and the United States Senate. It became the county seat of Montgomery County in 1803 and received its city charter in 1841, something more than a score of years after the opening of the Miami Canal gave a boom to its growth and prosperity.

Crowds at the end of one of the streets which was turned into a racing river. Many persons floating down on the debris were rescued by willing hands as they neared this point

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Crowds at the end of one of the streets which was turned into a racing river. Many persons floating down on the debris were rescued by willing hands as they neared this point

link to high-resolution image

Even before the flood reached its height, the wood-working department of the National Cash Register Factory was busily putting together improvised boats that were afterwards of great value in rescuing marooned residents from their flooded homes

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. Even before the flood reached its height, the wood-working department of the National Cash Register Factory was busily putting together improvised boats that were afterwards of great value in rescuing marooned residents from their flooded homes

link to high-resolution image


Within the city limits the waters of Wolf Creek, Stillwater and Mad Rivers unite with those of the great Miami. The latter stream flows through the city from north to south. As it reaches the corporation limits at the north it sweeps to the westward and is joined by Stillwater River a mile and a half from the court house. Then it takes an easterly course for half a mile and is joined by the Mad River at a point about half a mile from the court house.

The river then bends again to the west for more than half a mile and is joined by Wolf Creek. Its course lies thereafter to the southeast. Great bridges, some of them of great architectural beauty, cross all of these streams. The Miami Canal takes water from the Mad River about two miles northeast of the court house, runs parallel with the Mad River to its confluence with the Miami and then runs southward to the city limits.

The city is regularly laid out, the street and house number plan being arranged with arithmetical exactness. Main Street is the center of this system and the house numbers begin from it or the point nearest it on the streets that run east or west. For the streets running north and south the house numbers begin on Third Street or the point nearest Third Street. Main and Third Streets are respectively the dividing lines of all streets crossing them.106


The court house stands at Main and West Third Streets. Distances are measured from it, and it is at the center of the scheme according to which streets are laid out. Its original portion was modeled after the Greek Parthenon and is built of rough white marble taken from quarries in the vicinity. It is only one of the many buildings of which the city is proud. Among others are the Steele High School, St. Mary's College, Notre Dame Academy, Memorial Building, Arcade Building, Reibold Building, post office, Algonquin Hotel, public library and the Y. M. C. A. building.

There is also the Union Biblical Seminary and a publishing house connected therewith. The Central Theological Seminary was established in 1908. Among charitable institutions are the Dayton State Hospital for the Insane, Miami Valley and St. Elizabeth hospitals, the Christian Deaconess', Widows' and Children's homes and the Door of Hope, a home for girls. Just outside the city is the central branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers. In addition to these buildings there are a number of very handsome churches.


Dayton is on the Erie, the Dayton and Union and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroads. There are one hundred and twenty-five trains entering the city daily. The Union Station was opened to the public in July, 1900, and cost, including tracks, $900,000. The city has an area of ten and three-quarter square miles.107

The Mayor, Treasurer, Auditor, Solicitor, and Board of Public Service, of three members, are elected by popular election. The Board of Public Safety, of two members, and the Board of Health, are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by Council. The City Council, composed of thirteen members from ten wards, is elected by popular vote, for two years, each member receiving an annual salary of $250. It is a legislative body only.

The supply of water for the city is almost inexhaustible in quantity and of absolute purity. In 1904 there were one hundred and thirty-three miles of street mains, 1,300 fire hydrants and 15,503 service taps. The Fire Department has a force of ninety men, fourteen engine-houses, fifty horses maintained at a cost of $86,728.48, and with property worth $375,000. A complete system of surface and underground sewerage, both storm and sanitary, is provided. In 1904 there were sixty-seven and nine-tenths miles of storm sewerage.

There are seven National Banks and two Savings and Trust Companies. Dayton takes rank as foremost in building associations of any city of its size in the country. A large number of the 20,000 or more homes in the city have been built with the aid of these associations.

A potent force in the development of the city has been the electric traction lines, of which Dayton has more than any other city in Ohio. There are nine lines, with a total mileage of three hundred and eighty-five miles, which radiate in all directions through the populous and rich country of which108 Dayton forms the center. The city railway lines, three in number, have a total mileage of nearly one hundred miles and render excellent service.

The Dayton public school system has for many years enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best school systems in the West.

Dayton had the first library incorporated in the state, one having been established in 1805. The Public Library was opened in 1855 and is supported by public taxation, having an income of $18,000 per annum. There are five daily newspapers, each with weekly editions, besides seventeen church and other publications. There are also three large church publication houses.

The city hospitals include the St. Elizabeth Hospital, the Miami Valley Hospital, and the Protestant Hospital, which has a large central building known as the Frank Patterson Memorial of Operative Surgery, one of the most complete buildings for its purpose in the United States. The Dayton State Hospital for the Insane is maintained by the state. The Hospital of the National Military Home which adjoins the city is the largest military hospital in the world and has an average of 600 patients, all of whom are veteran volunteer soldiers of the Civil and Cuban Wars.


Dayton was early imbued with the spirit of civic pride and the results are seen in a system of drives and parks. The streets are well built and numerous good hard gravel roads109 radiate into the surrounding country, a fertile farming region which abounds in limestone. The levee along the Miami is made of hard gravel and is wide enough at the top to form a foundation for a drive.


Dayton is sometimes known as "the City of a Thousand Factories," and some of its varied industries are known throughout the world. Leading these is, of course, the National Cash Register Company, which employs something more than 7,000 men.

In addition to cash registers there are manufactured agricultural machinery, clay-working machinery, cottonseed and linseed oil machinery, railway cars, carriages and wagons, automobiles, flying machines, sewing machines, paper, furniture, soap and tobacco. Almost every industrial product finds a maker in this town. Barnum & Smith are the well known manufacturers of street cars. There is the Davis Sewing Machine Company, the Speedwell Automobile Company and many others. Water-power in abundance is supplied from the Mad River.

Dayton is the fifth largest city in Ohio. The final abstract of the Federal census for 1910 placed the population at 116,577, as compared with 85,333 in 1900 and 61,220 in 1890.

With its industries so diversified, its banks and building associations so strong and uniformly successful, and with its people so well educated, it is one of the richest and most prosperous communities in the Union.



The Devastation of Columbus


At Columbus, on Tuesday night, March 25th, darkness settled down on a swirling flood that covered large areas of the city. Thousands of persons were separated from members of their families and were frantic because they were unable to get into communication with their homes.


Hundreds of fathers, sons, brothers, sisters and daughters had left their homes on the west side of the city in the morning to go to work, before the Scioto River had reached a flood stage. Rising suddenly, the water cut them off from their homes and when night fell they only knew that their homes111 were flooded and that the members of their families were dependent for food and shelter on more fortunate neighbors.

Because the city was in darkness, only meager details of the condition of the flood-marooned inhabitants were obtainable.

Wringing their hands, weeping and appealing vainly for help, scores of girls crowded in as close to the water's edge in the darkness as state troops and policemen on duty would allow them, but there was no chance to cross the stream to their home district.


Owing to the high water, electric lights in the flooded district and a part of the business section of the city were out, and the water supply was cut off. The supply of gas was also cut off, with a view to preventing explosions.

In Columbus the west side was practically wiped out, and the reported loss of life ranged from a half dozen to 200. Houses were floating down the river with people on their roofs. Several fires in the submerged district added to the horrors. Refugees slept in public buildings, while militia helped the police patrol the streets, which were in total darkness.

It was estimated that over 10,000 persons were homeless on the west side as a result of the flood and that at least 15,000 were living on the second floors of their homes. Only about ten per cent of the street cars were able to operate and steam railroad and suburban lines were tied up.

Damage amounting to $30,000 was done by fires in the112 west side during the afternoon, which for a time threatened greater damage owing to the water supply being cut off. Even had there been water, most of the fire-fighting facilities were on the east side of the city and unable to reach the section affected.


Bridges connecting the west side with the eastern portion of Columbus were swept away shortly after noon. Dozens of smaller bridges went down. Hundreds of men were marooned in factories on the west side, and police and National Guardsmen were making rescues in boats where it was possible. All street car traffic was abandoned. Fifteen hundred homes were flooded.

With a great roar the levee at the foot of Broad Street let go shortly before eleven o'clock, sending down a deluge of water that swelled the Scioto River and covered a great area. Several small buildings collapsed. Just before the break the police ordered all persons in the lowlands to leave their homes quickly and flee for high land. All fire and police apparatus assisted in the work. The residents were told not to stop for clothes or valuables.

The Sandusky Street levee also collapsed, permitting the water to wash out a railroad embankment and pour into all the low districts between the river and Sandusky Street. With water to the hubs, a horse-drawn wagon galloped out West Broad Street filled with police, who shouted as they went a warning to all to fly to the hills.

While being swept down the channel of the swollen Scioto113 River just as darkness was gathering late in the day, a man, woman and child were rescued from the roof of a house that had been torn from its foundation by the flood. Two other children of the same family fell into the water and were drowned.


State troops at the order of Governor Cox patrolled the streets in the flooded sections of the city and scores of automobiles were busy carrying the suffering to higher ground.

Meantime, the rain which began Sunday night continued, at times moderately and at other times in torrents. The fact that the water had already destroyed several bridges and broken a levee gave cause for the alarm that other levees might break and further damage result.

Because of the proportions of the flood, which washed out nearly every bridge of steam and electric roads leading out of Columbus, nearly all train service was annulled.

Floodgates were closed against all trains coming in or going out of Columbus on all roads except the Norfolk and Western. A train on that road practically swam into the Union Station at 9 P. M. after having crept along through high waters for most of the run from Portsmouth to Columbus.

During the day several trains on roads from the East were detoured through Columbus over the Norfolk and Western, but this was discontinued because of washed-out bridges between Columbus and Pittsburgh and other points. Norfolk and Western officials said they had no assurance that they would be able to operate any trains from here.114

Ten solid miles of Pullman and other trains, including the Twentieth Century Flyer, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, extended from Lima to Lafayette, held up by a wash-out. Repairs allowed the trains to move on about eleven o'clock.

In taking charge of the relief work Governor Cox issued an order directing Adjutant-General John C. Speaks to call out the entire National Guard of the state for duty in the flooded districts.


Bridges were swept away, barring those who would have fled to places of safety. The rush of waters caught hundreds in their homes, and as the darkness fell the scramble to escape became wild and foreboding. Those who were able to do anything sent their appeals for aid to outlying cities before the wires had absolutely failed.

Added to the terrors of flood and darkness was that of fire. In the wild rush for places of safety that followed the first warning of the danger from the bursting levees, lamps were toppled over, electric wires were crossed and soon flames were mounting high in many sections of the city.

Representative H. S. Bigelow introduced a bill in the legislature to appropriate $100,000 for the flood sufferers in Ohio, the money to be handled under the direction of the Governor.

With no change in the number of reported dead in this city, estimates on Wednesday placed the probable dead at from one hundred to one hundred and fifty. Columbus was still being drenched and torn by flood waters of the Scioto115 and Olentangy Rivers. The scene of devastation on the west side was partly made visible to residents of other sections of the city for the first time in two days. The isolation of the western section again became real when the last remaining bridge gave way before the torrents.

Numerous persons who were considered conservative asserted that they saw scores of bodies float down stream and dozens of persons carried away in their houses.

Miss Esther Eis, rescued from her home on the west side, said she saw the house with George Griffin, wife and seven children collapse and disappear, and another house containing John Way, wife and five children, break up in the flood.

Besides the actual tragedies that were enacted in connection with the flood the most exciting incident occurred at the announcement that the storage dam, several miles north of the city, had broken, sending its great flood to augment that of the Scioto River.

The scene that followed was one of wild panic in all parts of the city. Patrolmen, soldiers and citizens in automobiles, tooting horns, ringing gongs and calling through megaphones a warning to every one to seek safety in the higher parts of the east side, sent thousands in flight, while many, stunned by the supposed impending disaster, collapsed from fear or gave way to hysteria.

It was more than an hour before the report was officially denied. Police officials assert that the report was made to them by persons connected with the military end of the patrols.116

City officials said that the storage dam was holding fast against the millions of gallons of water that were being poured against it, and they expressed confidence that it would continue to do so despite the great pressure upon it.

The Governor telegraphed the War Department at Washington, asking that 50,000 tents and 100,000 rations be made available for use and distribution by the Ohio National Guard.

Governor Cox also sent out appeals for aid to the Governors of all the border States of Ohio, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. Tents and provisions were badly needed, according to the Governor's appeal.

After working all night in the Adjutant-General's office in the State House, officers of the Ohio National Guard reported that they had succeeded in assembling 3,500 militiamen, ready for service in the flood districts.

Mobilized at all points of the state, companies and regiments of the Ohio military force started at daybreak on Wednesday for the stricken cities and towns as soon as arrangements for their transportation, the most serious problem confronting the militia headquarters, could be arranged. The relief which they carried was held back by the lack of railroad facilities everywhere.


Howard Elting, president of the Chicago Association of Commerce, telegraphed Governor Cox that citizens of Chicago were raising a relief fund for flood sufferers.117

"I am pleased to state," the telegram said, "that $100,000 will be placed at the disposal of Ohio through the American Red Cross Society."

The Senate passed the Lowry Bill making appropriation for the relief of the flood sufferers, but increased the amount to $500,000.

The action was taken in response to the following message from the Governor:

"The flood disaster that has befallen our state is of such magnitude in loss of life and human suffering that I respectfully urge upon your honorable body the importance and propriety of making an appropriation for the succor of those in distress.

"May I further suggest that it be of such size and made with such dispatch as to reflect the great heart and resource of our commonwealth?"


On Thursday it was apparent that the part of the city between Central and Sandusky Avenues was almost wiped out, and estimates of the death toll of the flood in this city ran into the hundreds.

It was not until Thursday when the waters began to recede, and after two nights of horror, during which hundreds of people clung to the housetops, while others sought safety in trees, that the fact dawned upon the inhabitants that their city had been visited by as great a calamity perhaps as that which had fallen upon the Miami Valley.118

The bodies of 200 persons lay huddled in the United Brethren Church on Avondale Avenue, according to O. H. Ossman, an undertaker, who explored the flood district in a rowboat.

He said this report was made to him by a man who said he had been able to reach the building and look through the windows. Police who sought to confirm the story were unable to reach the church because of the current.

Ossman said nineteen bodies had been taken to his undertaking rooms and that he has been asked to be prepared to care for sixty-nine other bodies. He said he counted fully two hundred bodies in wreckage on West Park Avenue.

Members of searching parties who were able to explore the west side of the city, south of Broad Street, for the first time reported that that section was a scene of vast desolation for a great area, much of it being still under water.

The names of more than a half hundred persons were placed under the caption "known dead," while the list of probable dead was too great to be collated at that time. The number of missing and unaccounted for, it was said, would reach far into the hundreds.

An Associated Press operator, who was marooned for hours in the flood after it broke early Tuesday, reached the Columbus office Thursday after having traveled by a circuitous route covering more than forty-five miles in order to get into the main portion of the city.

He saw more than a score of bodies washed through the flood, and said that house after house was carried away in the flood. Many of the small frame cottages were wrenched to119 pieces by the currents and their occupants thrown into the water to be seen no more.

It was believed that many bodies would be found at the Sandusky Street bridge or lodged against such part of it as was left in the river at that point. Further exploration of that part of the west side was begun Thursday afternoon.

Because she had no home after she was rescued from the flood district, Miss Florence P. Shaner and William G. Wahlenmaier were married. They had intended being married in May. The girl was rescued by Wahlenmaier. Her mother was drowned and their home swept away.


Other men who had ventured into the flood district told corresponding stories of awful loss of life. To add to the horrors of the situation reports reached the State House that the buildings in the flood-swept district were being looted by men in rowboats. To meet this emergency and to better patrol the west side, which is under martial law, Governor Cox ordered Troop B of the National Guard to patrol the ruined section of the city. It was believed the cavalrymen could cover more territory than foot soldiers.

As the waters receded the militia guarded the west side under arrangements made between the Adjutant-General's department and Chairman Nass of the Columbus Relief Committee.

Hundreds of people were still marooned in flooded homes, their rescue up to that time being impossible because of the120 swift current of the river. Rescued people in dire straits were brought to the City Hall in a stream all day, where people by the hundreds waited to obtain news of missing relatives and friends.

Families were separated, and men, women and children stood night and day at the edge of the water waiting for the flood to subside that they might reach abandoned homes.

The body of a man was suspended in a tree near Glenwood Avenue, beyond reach of the rescuing parties. Other bodies were among debris washed up on the edge of the waters in the southwest end of the city. Near this debris were two submerged street cars.

Many of the refugees were in state institutions on the high ground at the west end. The water fell several feet and some of the streets inundated could be traversed, but in the lowlands, where it was feared the greater number of dead would be found, it was several days before a thorough search could be instituted.

Many of the refugees were in a pitiable condition when rescued. They were benumbed by the cold and suffering from hunger and exposure.


Colonel D. N. Oyser, an attache of the city sanitary department, reported that two truckloads of bodies were removed from one point on the west side.

The cold wave which struck the section Wednesday night caused many to freeze, lose their grip, and drop into the water.

Part of the residential section of Fremont, Ohio, flooded. The water reached to the second story of the houses

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Part of the residential section of Fremont, Ohio, flooded. The water reached to the second story of the houses

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Carrying on the work of rescuing Dayton flood sufferers from their houses in the boats made for the purpose at the National Cash Register Factory

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. Carrying on the work of rescuing Dayton flood sufferers from their houses in the boats made for the purpose at the National Cash Register Factory

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121With military glasses rescuers standing on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad near Center Avenue could see several dead forms lying on the roof of a building to the east.

Four babies were reported to have been born in a school house on the hilltop.

According to those who invaded the stricken district, the churches, big state institutions and storerooms in the hilltop section were crowded with refugees. They tell stories of indescribable horrors.

Former Mayor George S. Marshall, who was in telephone communication with Cecil Randall, his law partner, said that Mr. Randall estimated the death toll at several hundreds. Throngs of excited groups of people from the flood-stricken section of the city who were crowded into the temporary rescue quarters asserted that the estimate of Mr. Randall was not exaggerated.

Neither the extent of the awful tragedies enacted during the sweeping away of homes nor the exact death tolls could be known for days until the mass of wreckage, houses and uprooted trees which were strewn on the level lowlands south of the city were uncovered. This mass of debris was under several feet of water, with swift currents running in many directions.

Many of those rescued told of escaping from their homes by fractions of minutes, just before the rushing waters swept their homes away and crushed them like eggshells against bridges. Scores of entire families, these people assert, were swept down with their houses in the swift current.122

Every available inch of space in the Columbus State Hospital for the Insane and Mt. Carmel Hospital on the hilltop was occupied by refugees.

Fire Chief Lauer, who was marooned on the hilltop beyond the flooded section, reaching that point of safety in his automobile just before the waters swept the lowlands, said that he saw scores of people standing on their porches as the waters swept down and that he could not see how scarcely any of them escaped.

After two nights of horror, during which hundreds clung to housetops calling for help until their voices gave way, while dozens perched in the branches of trees, many were still beyond the reach of rescuers.


J. W. Gaver, Justice of the Peace at Briggsdale, swore in several deputies and armed them, with instructions to shoot down all looters.

Relief trains from Marysville and London, bearing food and clothing, relieved the situation in the refugee quarters on the hilltop, where hundreds of homeless were waiting news from relatives.

Relief work was directed toward rescuing two hundred and fifty from the marooned plant of the Sun Manufacturing Company, where they had been imprisoned for two days without food or heat. One boat which got within hailing distance before it was stopped by the swirling current was informed that conditions were terrible.123

With a blinding snowstorm and the temperature falling, gnawed by hunger and suffering from the cold, the thousands of flood sufferers of the state faced the uncertainties which the freezing temperature was adding to their plight.

Although some of the early morning reports said flood waters were receding slowly in some of the flooded sections there was scarcely a perceptible change in the flood height. In other places, even though receding, the water was still of such height as to maroon the sufferers, many of whom were suffering from exposure which followed their clinging throughout the night to some points of vantage above the murky waters. All were facing the chilly winds, blinding rain, sleet and snow.

Governor Cox issued a proclamation declaring a holiday in all districts flooded in Ohio for the next ten days. This was done to protect negotiable paper that might be subject to presentation.

Hundreds of the refugees harbored in the various relief stations and in private homes just outside of the flooded district were separated from relatives, and many of them believed that lost sons or daughters, fathers or mothers had perished.

The authorities were fearful of looting in the flood district and the militia, under strict orders, in several cases arrested rescue workers and interfered with their work, suspecting them of looting. A large quantity of supplies was transported to the flood district by automobile and rail, and the refugees were made comfortable as fast as they could be released from the grip of the waters.124


Thursday's bodies were recovered from jams of driftwood that had piled up along the shallow shores of the flood. All of them were badly mutilated and in several cases identification was difficult. The authorities organized a squad of men to cover the entire inundated area in the search of bodies. Up to date fifty-one known dead had been reported.

Hundreds of those whose homes were in the flooded district, but who were marooned in the business section of the city, away from their families, were able to get to the flood section Thursday by a circuitous route about twenty-five miles long. All manner of vehicles and pedestrians crowded the road throughout the day, and at the end of the way pathetic reunions of families separated since Tuesday took place in the muddy, flood-swept streets.

Daniel A. Poling, general secretary of the Ohio Christian Endeavor Society, issued an appeal to the 160,000 Christian Endeavorers in the state, urging them to forward contributions to state headquarters.

West Columbus remained virtually under martial law. Militia companies on duty were ordered to shoot looters on sight. Thousands of curious people and those with friends and relatives in the flooded districts were kept out of the west side by police and troopers. The city relief station, at the city hall, and the newspapers maintained and compiled lists of the rescued, as well as lists of the dead.

By Friday order was being rapidly evolved out of chaos, and missing loved ones were being accounted for by hundreds.125 Ample shelter and food were being provided for the thousands of homeless.

Flood waters drained off from the devastated districts, railroad service was slowly resumed and telegraph and telephone wires were being restrung.



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For three days Governor Cox tirelessly accomplished the work of a dozen men, laboring from daylight to long past midnight to aid the unfortunates of Ohio. His hand guided everything done in the work of rescue and on Friday he turned his attention to new problems of preventing epidemics, safeguarding126 life and property, relieving the sufferings of surviving flood victims and the care of the dead.

The hero of the Dayton disaster, John A. Bell, the telephone official who, marooned in a business block had been keeping Governor Cox informed every half hour of conditions in the stricken city and delivering orders through boatmen who rowed to his window, called the State House at daybreak and greeted the Executive with a cheery "Good morning, Governor. The sun is shining in Dayton."

But sunshine gave way to a blizzard like a snowstorm later in the day and the reports coming from Bell were less cheering as the day advanced.

On Friday the Governor seized the railways to insure passage of relief trains and to keep sightseers and looters away from the afflicted municipalities.

The entire military force of Ohio was on duty in the flooded districts, which included practically the entire state. Because of the interrupted communications headquarters had not been able to keep fully in touch with the movements of all the troops. The officers in command in most cases had to determine routes and procure their own transportation. Under the most difficult conditions they uniformly showed both energy and ingenuity in reaching their destination.

Estimates of the flood death list in Columbus continued to range from fifty to five hundred, although these figures represented largely opinions of officials on duty in the flood zone. The efforts of the authorities were directed almost entirely to relieving the suffering of those marooned in127 houses in the territory under water, and until all of these had been rescued the search for the dead did not begin in earnest. The waters receded slowly on Friday and the swirling currents abated a trifle, allowing the rescue boats a wider area of activity.


George F. Unmacht, civil service clerk, connected with the quartermaster's department of the United States army, stationed at Chicago, arrived in Columbus Friday to assist in directing the distribution of supplies. Rations for 300,000 arrived together with tents for 20,000 persons; 100 hospital tents, 400 stoves, 29,000 blankets, 8,900 cots, 100 ranges.

Officers at Columbus were ordered to report at Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Youngstown and Hamilton, while a hospital corps was sent to the Columbus barracks.

The Governor's attention on Friday was devoted largely to organization of the work of relief. He received telegrams notifying him of collections of more than $250,000. A New York newspaper had sent $150,000 subscribed to a fund it raised. Word was received that the Chicago Chamber of Commerce had raised $200,000, half of which had been forwarded to Ohio. Judge Alton B. Parker subscribed $5,000 and James J. Hill $5,000. A thousand dollars was sent from Walkerville, Ontario.

Governor Dunne wired that a bill appropriating $100,000 for Ohio flood sufferers had been introduced in the Illinois Legislature, while Governor Osborne telegraphed that the Michigan Assembly had appropriated $20,000.128

Colonel Myron T. Herrick, of Cleveland, Ambassador to France, cabled his deep anxiety over the Ohio disaster, and Governor Cox in reply asked him to call a meeting of the Ohio Society in Paris and wire funds, saying the losses exceeded the San Francisco earthquake.

The Ohio Society of Georgia wired the Governor it was sorry and it too was invited to show how much it was sorry.


The need for relief was indicated when a company of telephone linemen working outside of Columbus had their supplies taken from them by hungry flood refugees.

Governor Cox recalled some of his former comments on the need of expenditures for the National Guard. "The National Guard," he said, "has saved itself. Its efficiency has been a revelation to me." In the organization so promptly effected by the Governor the moment the floods came, his most efficient aid came from Adjutant-General Speaks and the National Guard officers, and with the Guard the work of rescue and of maintaining order was made possible. The officers and men performed every duty faithfully.

Martial law prevailed in most of the stricken cities and the soldiers prevented the looting of the abandoned houses and cared for the refugees.

Colonel Wilson, of the Paymaster's Department, was made financial officer as well as treasurer of the relief funds. Under his direction and the Governor's supervision the Ohio relief commission prepared for a War Department audit, as is129 required by the Red Cross Society. The Governor demanded that there should be but one relief committee in the state, and to that end the local committees formed were subordinate to the state commission.


The work of rescue brought out many striking incidents of personal heroism.

From two o'clock Tuesday afternoon until nearly nightfall Wednesday Charles W. Underwood, a carpenter of this city, held two babes in his arms while he clung to the branch of a tree near the Greenlawn Cemetery, where he had been carried fully a mile by the current. One babe was his own, the other belonged to a neighbor, and as he clung to them he saw his own twelve-year-old daughter on another limb of the same tree weaken from exposure and die, her frail body swaying limply as it hung over the branch. He also saw a woman refugee in the same tree weaken and fall into the swirling waters. Underwood and the babes were finally rescued.

Two hundred and thirty-three souls marooned in the building of the Sun Manufacturing Company succeeded in sending out a note by messenger, praising the work of John Brady, who, with a skiff, after his home was swept away, rescued two hundred men, women and children and brought them to the Sun plant.

"Track out at Columbus because of floods," was the message that Albert E. Dutoit, a Hocking Valley Railway engineer, read when his train was stopped Wednesday at Walbridge,130 near Toledo. His heart gave a bound, for he knew his family must be threatened. He detached his engine from the train and started on his race with death. Like mad he shot his engine across the country between there and Columbus. All night Wednesday he tried to get through the military lines and succeeded on Thursday. He induced men in motor boats to rescue his family. In a few more moments, he had his eight-months-old baby in one arm with the other around the waist of his wife. The reunion brought tears of sympathy to the eyes of the rescuers.

Mrs. Emil Wallace, living southwest of the city, in the lowlands, ran toward a hill when she saw the onrushing waters. She reached safety just as the water was up to her neck. Her home was submerged.

A street car was washed a quarter of a mile away from the track. The conductor and half a dozen passengers were drowned like rats in a trap before they could get out of the car.

Two unknown men lost their lives while trying to save a twelve-year-old girl from a raft floating near Greenlawn Avenue. On horseback the men fought desperately against the swift current of the flood until at last they were carried away.

Nearly one hundred babies were born in the flood district and in the refuge camps between Tuesday morning and Saturday. In the majority of cases neither the mothers nor the babies received any medical attention. Many of the babies died from exposure.131

As the sun broke through a fringe of clouds Saturday morning it looked down upon scenes of utter devastation in the stricken west side of this city, where a mighty torrent of water had rendered what was a prosperous and happy community of 40,000 souls into a place of death, want and disaster.


The scenes were full of human pathos. Torn bodies, disfigured almost beyond recognition, were being dug from debris. Whole families, marooned for four long days and nights in the upper stories of houses that had escaped as if by miracle, many of them without food or water and in fear of constant death by flood or flame, were being reached by rescuers.

Many of those rescued were in a critical condition from the long hours they had spent in the bitter cold—their clothing soaked by the incessant rainfall of three days and nights and no fuel or bedding with which to combat their fearful condition. The water was subsiding materially and the work of rescue was thus made easier.

The work of the searching parties in the flooded district increased the list of bodies recovered from the water to sixty-one. All of these were lodged in the temporary morgue, and most of them were identified.

Accurate estimates of the dead were still impossible. Safety Director Bargar said not more than one hundred had been drowned. Coroner Benkert asserted that the loss of life would reach 200, while former Mayor Marshall, commanding132 the rescue workers in the southern end of the flooded district held that both estimates were too high.

Of the sixty-one bodies recovered twenty-seven had been identified.

Estimates placed property loss at from $15,000,000 to $30,000,000. But no one seemed to care about the monetary loss. The city was staggered by the weight of human suffering.

Governor Cox received a telegram from D. T. McCabe, vice-president of the Pennsylvania Lines, offering to transport free of charge all relief supplies to points in the flooded area of the state if properly consigned to the relief authorities. The Governor also received a telegram from Governor Ralston, of Indiana, saying that ten carloads of supplies had been started for Ohio points by Indiana relief organizations.

Approximately one thousand persons, refugees from the Dayton flood, arrived in Columbus on Saturday, most of them having made their way by automobile and trains. As if pursued by tragedy, it fell to them that their landing place in this city should be within the radius of the recently-flooded hilltop district of the west side. The arrival of the refugees was unexpected and no arrangements had been made to care for them. Adjutant-General John C. Speaks was notified and said that the state would do the best that could be done to provide them with food and shelter. General Speaks said that the local relief committees were being sorely taxed, but that he had been advised by the Columbus relief committees that they would give all possible assistance in housing and feeding the Dayton arrivals.133

Scores of transfer wagons traversed the inundated streets carrying relief to the hundreds marooned in the upper stories of houses. An element adding to the difficulty of the situation was the refusal of hundreds to leave their homes in the submerged district. This despite the fact that they were compelled to live in damp upper stories, with little heat or cooking facilities and in the face of threatened illness.

"We've saved our bedding and furniture, and that's all we have," said one of these. "We are not going to take any chances of losing that."

City Health Officer Dr. Louis Kahn ordered an immediate cleaning up. The health authorities also called attention to the necessity of boiling all water for drinking purposes.

Miss Mabel Boardman, head of the Red Cross Society, reached Cincinnati Saturday night. She came to confer with Governor Cox. The Governor again asserted that the property damage caused by the floods in Ohio would aggregate $300,000,000, and that this amount would be increased by the high water in the Ohio River.

With the water fast receding in Columbus and the danger stage passed, the food problem promised on Sunday to become the most serious for the relief workers to solve.

Mayor Hunt, of Cincinnati, had been sending food to Dayton and other places, but on Saturday as the flood descended upon his own city from the upper reaches of the Ohio River, he put an embargo on further exports of provisions. Though fifty-five carloads of provisions consigned to the state were in Columbus last night, and supply trains were headed for Ohio134 from Chicago, Washington, New York and other places, Governor Cox was by no means reassured that the relief in sight would be sufficient.

All of the people in the marooned district were reached and those willing to leave their homes were brought over to the east side of the city and cared for in hospitals, private homes or temporary places of refuge. Boats and other contrivances were in constant use carrying provisions and fuel to those who could not leave their homes. Eight more bodies were recovered.

A majority of the rescued presented a pitiable sight, some hardly able to stand on their feet and others, thinly clad and benumbed by the cold, trembled as they were lifted into the boats. The hospitals were crowded with people dangerously ill from days of exposure.

The morgues, hospitals and places of refuge were constantly besieged by people looking for lost relatives. Those received related tales of horror and heroism unparalleled except in great disasters like the Titanic or Johnstown.

A year-old baby, wrapped in a blanket, was washed ashore in front of the gates of the state institution for feeble-minded. Although chilled by the water the child was soon revived. Pinned to its underclothing was a piece of paper, upon which the name, "Walter Taylor," was written. The boy was restored to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Taylor, twenty-four hours later. The family had been penned in its home for two days. As the water rose gradually the parents moved to the second floor and then to the attic. Finally the135 father was forced to hold the child for hours above his head. Climbing out to the roof as a last resort, the baby was swept away and the parents had given it up for dead.

Governor H. D. Hatfield, of West Virginia, arrived in Columbus at seven o'clock Sunday night on a special train from Charleston. The train brought supplies, motor boats and skiffs. The motor boats and skiffs were later taken through the different sections of the city to rescue hundreds who were marooned. The local military company took charge of the rescue work and pushed it forward as rapidly as conditions would permit.

The sum of $50,000 was raised by voluntary contributions in Columbus for a relief fund. In addition, the city council voted $75,000, and great stores of provisions and clothing were contributed by local people and outsiders. Thousands of the homeless people were cared for in homes of those willing to share them, or in public halls. One thousand were fed daily in the Masonic Temple.

In a statement full of feeling, issued Sunday evening, shortly before he left the Executive office for home and the first full night's rest he has had in more than a week, Governor Cox said:

"Refreshed by the tears of the American people, Ohio stands ready from today to meet the crisis alone.

"Ohio has risen from the floods. Such a pitiless blow from Nature as we sustained would have wiped out society and destroyed governments in other days. We cannot speak our gratitude to President Wilson for federal aid, to the Red136 Cross, to states, municipalities, trade organizations and individuals that sent funds and supplies. They will never know their contribution to humanity.

"The relief situation, so far as food and clothing are concerned, is in hand. Thankful to her friends who succored her, Ohio faces tomorrow serene and confident."

Governor Cox and members of the Legislature began on Monday an outline of reconstructive legislation, to be followed in all of the flood districts by the state. It was decided that the San Francisco relief plan should be placed into effect for the Ohio flood sufferers. Under this plan the relief was based upon property loss of the individual and the income loss incurred. The amount of relief each person received was prorated on such a basis.

Upon the recommendation of Governor Cox, the Legislature recessed until next Monday, thereby giving state officials a week to formulate plans. Resolutions warmly thanking the citizens of New York State and Pennsylvania for their flood relief contributions were passed.

All that human effort could accomplish on Tuesday failed to penetrate the part of the debris piled in the west side, where, it was believed, many of the bodies of persons missing finally would be recovered. As matters stood Tuesday night, however, eight more bodies had passed through the morgues.

In addition to this number, was the body of James M. Kearney, a merchant, who was drowned several months ago, and which, cast up by the flood, was found lodged in a tree when the waters had receded. That many other bodies would be recovered after the army of men employed in the work had attacked the great pile of debris made at several points by wrecked homes was generally conceded.

View of River Street In Troy, New York, showing the Collar, Cuff and Shirt Factory of Cluett, Peabody & Company, the largest of its kind in the world, closed on account of the floods. Thousands of people were thrown out of work on account of the overflowing of the Hudson

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. View of River Street In Troy, New York, showing the Collar, Cuff and Shirt Factory of Cluett, Peabody & Company, the largest of its kind in the world, closed on account of the floods. Thousands of people were thrown out of work on account of the overflowing of the Hudson

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Under the martial law established at Dayton, citizens were kept off the streets at night as a precaution against looting

Photograph by Underwood & Underwood. Under the martial law established at Dayton, citizens were kept off the streets at night as a precaution against looting


Four more bodies were recovered Wednesday from flood wreckage, making the total of bodies found in this city stand at eighty-four. Of these all except seven were identified.

Coroner Benkert, who made a wide-spread investigation among families, some members of which were among the missing, said that he estimated that at least one hundred and twenty-five bodies would be recovered. It was expected that other bodies that had been washed down the river would never be identified as Columbus victims.

The property damage in Columbus, like the death toll, was confined principally to the west side, the business and manufacturing districts having gone almost unscathed.


Governor Cox and the State Relief Commission on Tuesday left on a tour of the state to visit cities and districts that were hit hardest by the flood to determine what relief was necessary in each case. Before their departure, however, conditions in Columbus were fast approaching normal, and the residents with a cheerful, courageous spirit had commenced the repair of their devastated city.



Columbus: the Beautiful Capital of Ohio


Columbus, Ohio, the capital of the state and the county seat of Franklin County, is located at the center of the state at the junction of the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers, on a slightly elevated alluvial plain, and is nearly equidistant from Cincinnati, southwest; Cleveland, northeast; Toledo, northwest; and Marietta, southeast, the average distance from these points being one hundred and fifteen miles. It has a population of some 180,000.

Columbus was made the capital by the legislature in 1810, and became the permanent capital in 1816, the original territorial and state capital having been Chillicothe. The first state buildings were of brick, and cost $85,000. The present massive buildings and additions are of dressed native gray limestone, in the Doric style of architecture. They cover nearly three acres of ground, and their total cost has been $2,500,000.139


As early as 1812 Columbus was surveyed in rectangular squares; it was incorporated as a village in 1816, and chartered as a city in 1834. In general outline the city resembles a Maltese cross. It extends eight miles north and south, and seven miles east and west on its arms of expansion. Its longest streets, High and Broad, bisect the city north and south, and east and west respectively. The uniform width of the former is one hundred feet, and the breadth of the latter is one hundred and twenty feet. Broad Street is planted with four rows of shade-trees for its entire length east of Capitol Square, where it penetrates the fashionable residence district. High Street is the leading business thoroughfare. Capitol Square, a miniature park of ten acres, is situated at the intersection of these streets, two squares east of the Scioto River. The residence portions of the city contain many beautiful homes and fine mansions. There are numerous apartment buildings; the houses of the average people are substantial and comfortable. On the business streets are many handsome, commodious blocks; many steel, brick and stone office buildings, as well as commodious railway buildings and stations. The streets are wide, well paved and lighted, and are kept in good condition.


The police and fire departments are excellent; the water supply is pure and ample, and the sewerage system good. The waterworks are owned by the city. A large municipal140 electric-lighting plant was completed in 1908. Natural gas is the principal fuel for domestic use. Bituminous coal, in unlimited quantities, is found a few miles to the south.

The church buildings of Columbus include those of the following religious denominations: Methodist Episcopal, United Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Disciples, Friends, Christian Scientist, Evangelical, Jewish, Independent German Protestant, German Evangelical Protestant, African Methodist Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventists and United Brethren. The newspapers and periodicals include English and German dailies, secular weeklies, and trade, professional, religious, fraternal and other publications. There are numerous public school buildings, four being devoted to high-school purposes. Among institutions for higher education are the Ohio State University, Capital City University and the Evangelical Theological Seminary. Professional schools include one dental and three medical colleges, and a law school; and there are also private and religious educational institutions. Columbus is the location of a state hospital for the insane; state institutes for the education of deaf mutes, blind and imbecile youth; the Ohio penitentiary; county, city and memorial buildings; five opera houses; and a board of trade building. There are five public parks and a United States military post, Fort Columbus. This post, known also as Columbus Barracks, was originally an arsenal, and now has quarters for eight companies of infantry.

From Columbus steam railroads radiate to all parts of the state, intersecting all through lines running east, west, northwest,141 northeast and south; and interurban lines connect with a model street-railway system.


Columbus is near the Ohio coal and iron fields, and has an extensive trade in coal, but its largest industrial interests are in manufactures, among which the more important are foundry and machine products, boots and shoes, patent medicines, carriages and wagons, malt liquors, oleomargarine, iron and steel, and steam railway cars. There are several large quarries adjacent to the city.


The citizens of Columbus possess the characteristic push and enterprise of western people, and much of the culture and artistic taste of those in the east. The population is drawn chiefly from the counties in the state, and especially from those which are centrally located. The largest foreign elements are German, Irish, Welsh, English and Italian, and include scattered groups and individuals from almost every civilized and semi-civilized country in the world.



Cincinnati: A New Center of Peril


Scarcely had Dayton, Columbus and Zanesville begun their real battle for restoration when Cincinnati became a new peril center. Situated on the Ohio River at the point where the Muskingum, Scioto, the two Miamis, and the Licking were pouring their millions of gallons of flood water into the river, the city was bound to suffer. It seemed as if the Buckeye State would never be able to escape from the clutches of the great demon of flood.


Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County, in the extreme southwest of the state, one of the great commercial and manufacturing centers of the Union, tenth in nominal rank, and seventh or eighth in fact. It is situated on the north bank of the Ohio River, almost exactly half way from its origin at Pittsburgh to its mouth at Cairo, Illinois.143

On the western side of the city from west to south runs Mill Creek, the remains of a once glacial stream, whose gently sloping valley, half a mile or more wide, forms an easy path into the heart of the city, and was an indispensable factor in determining its position. Highways, canals and railroads come through it, and the city's growth has pushed much farther up this valley than in other directions. The railroad stockyards are on its eastern slope. Cincinnati extends for about fourteen miles along the river front, to a width of about five in an irregular block north from it, but attains a width of six or seven miles at the extreme point along the creek valley.

The bottom level below the bluffs along the riverside is the seat of the river shipping business, and has as well the usual fringe of low quarters; it is paved, and there is a broad public landing fronted by floating docks, wharf-boats, etc. Above are the wholesale and then the retail business streets, with great extent and variety of fine business architecture, and gridironed with electric roads. The principal lines converge at or near Fountain Square, and connect with a ring of beautiful suburbs, within and without the city limits, unsurpassed in America.

Among the sights of interest is the busy public landing or levee. The Grand Central Depot, a terminal of several of the largest roads, is centrally situated near the river. Among the most prominent buildings are that of the United States Government Custom House, the City Hall, the City Hospital, the Springer Music Hall, the Odd Fellows and Masonic Temples,144 the Public Library, with 431,875 volumes, and the Museum of Natural History. St. Peter's Cathedral, St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Cathedral, St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church, the First and Second Presbyterian Churches, and the Jewish Synagogue are handsome edifices. Fine hotels and theaters are numerous. The biennial musical festivals are famous.


The troubles of Cincinnati began on Tuesday, March 25th, when the city experienced a cloudburst that started the gauge rising in the Ohio River, temporarily flooded the streets of the city and carried away two bridges over the White Water River, at Valley Junction a short distance to the south.


By Thursday Cincinnati was facing one of the worst floods in her history. It had rained steadily for twenty-four hours. The flood had entered several business houses in the lower section during the night and early morning found the entire "bottoms" a sea of moving vans, working up to their capacity. At eight o'clock in the evening the gauge showed 60, a rise of more than three feet since the same hour that morning.

East and west of the city on the Ohio side of the river the lowlands were inundated and much damage done. In the low sections of the city many houses were flooded and the inhabitants of these sections fled to higher ground.

Across the river at Newport and Covington, Kentucky145 suburbs of Cincinnati, similar conditions prevailed and the police early warned dwellers of the danger that threatened. Dayton and Ludlow, other Kentucky suburbs, were also sufferers from the rising flood and many houses were already completely under water.

TOPOGRAPHY OF STRICKEN SECTION OF TWO STATES Practically every town and city shown in this illustration suffered from the floods, most of them from loss of life and all of them from property damage.

Practically every town and city shown in this illustration suffered from the floods, most of them from loss of life and all of them from property damage.

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A seventy-foot stage for Cincinnati was predicted. The Central Union Station was abandoned and all trains leaving or entering the city were detoured.


Slowly the treacherous waters rose while tired watchers waited anxiously. Conditions were not acute but distressing. The people knew that they must face conditions worse than the present. All the lowland to the west and east of the city146 had been submerged and also along the water front of the business section the commercial houses were gradually disappearing under the yellow river. Hundreds of families along the river front in Cincinnati had been forced to move by the encroaching river and many merchants had removed their goods from cellars and basements to higher ground.

Chief of Police Copeland, however, had the flood work well in hand. The police were put on twelve-hour duty and worked in the flooded territory in rowboats.

The city armory sheltered many persons and preparations were made to distribute food at the city jail. Nearly every landing place along the river front was piled high with furniture, bedding and other household effects.


Along the Kentucky shore conditions rapidly became worse. At Covington more than five hundred houses were submerged and their occupants given shelter and protection in public buildings.

Plans were formulated to care for flood sufferers, and a meeting was held at Covington at which arrangements were made to raise a sufficient fund for the poor. At the same time arrangements also were made for policing the flood zone and preventing looting.

The river-front section of Ludlow was deep under water and the residents had moved. Bromley was entirely cut off from other neighboring towns. Dayton, Kentucky, and other nearby small towns were in the same isolated condition, and there was much suffering in consequence.147


Many of the large manufacturing plants closed because operatives were unable to reach their places of employment.

Newport, which, with Covington, is directly opposite Cincinnati, forming the larger of the suburban sections, was in almost as bad a case as its neighboring city. The flood of water had risen in all parts of the town.

One of the bridges across the Ohio had been closed, and the authorities were preparing to close others to the public, thus cutting off the south shore from communication with Cincinnati, and also closing practically the only railway outlet the latter city had to the South and East.

No food shortage was anticipated, but warnings were issued by the mayor of this and other nearby cities that merchants must not take advantage of the situation to charge extortionate prices. All attempts of this nature in Cincinnati were promptly curbed by the authorities.


With nearly 15,000 persons in the towns on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River driven from their homes by the rising flood that was sweeping down the Ohio Valley and with more than 3,500 homes altogether or partly submerged, the flood situation in the vicinity of Cincinnati on Saturday was assuming graver proportions hourly.

The water reached the second floor of a number of business houses along Front Street and was half way up on the first floor of several blocks of houses on Second Street. Several148 lines of the Cincinnati Traction Company, operating in the lower district were abandoned. Reassuring word from the packers, commission men and general produce merchants came early in the day, when it was estimated by experts that Cincinnati had enough food supplies to last at least ten days without inconveniencing any one.

Railway service into and out of Cincinnati was virtually at a standstill. The Louisville and Nashville trains were leaving the city for the West on time, but arriving trains were much delayed.

So far only one life had been lost as a direct result of the high waters here. Miss Anna Smith, the first victim, drowned in an attempt to reach Newport in a skiff that capsized in midstream. Her three men companions were rescued while swimming to shore.


Newport and Covington were virtually surrounded by water. Conditions there were worse than elsewhere and nearly ten thousand people were driven from their homes. Relief measures, however, were adequate. Manufacturing plants in the lowlands ceased.

In these two cities the only fear was that health conditions would be seriously affected because of the clogging of the sewage system and the stagnation of back water. The water works and gas plants continued in operation, but the electric light plants had been forced to cease.

In the Kentucky towns of Dayton, Ludlow, Bellevue and149 Bromley identical conditions existed, but in their cases all communication with Cincinnati, Newport and Covington was suspended. These towns remained in isolation until the water had fallen sufficiently to permit the operation of street cars on the south side of the river.

In these towns there were 2,000 persons cared for by relief committees. More than 500 homes disappeared under the flood waters. Property damage assumed alarming proportions, especially as this was the second time within three months that the Ohio Valley had suffered from high water.

By Sunday the outlook for Cincinnati was brighter. No trains had gone out of the city except south to Kentucky by way of Covington, and rail and telegraph communications were still badly demoralized, but fair, warm weather which had continued since Thursday had greatly helped the complex situation. It was predicted that the river would reach its greatest height at Cincinnati on Monday.


Spreading over a vast expanse of territory in Cincinnati, as well as an almost equal amount in the various towns that lie along the river on the Kentucky shore, the Ohio continued to rise.

During Saturday night the central part of the city was thrown into a semi-panic by an explosion that could be heard for miles. The Union Carbide Company, at Pearl and Elm Streets, had been destroyed in an explosion caused supposedly by the carbide coming in contact with water.150

The river reached the stage of 69.3 feet at noon, Saturday, and continued to rise at the rate of two-tenths of a foot every two hours.

Two companies of the Ninth United States Infantry, stationed at Fort Thomas, Kentucky, were held in readiness to march at an instant's notice to Covington, where Mayor George S. Phillips feared the city might be in need of military protection due to high water that virtually surrounded the town. When the river stage reached more than 68 feet on Friday the gas plants were put out of commission and the city was in darkness.

Of the few important towns in Kentucky, opposite Cincinnati, only one, Newport, maintained direct communication with Cincinnati. Through Newport communication was obtained with Covington by a circuitous route. In Newport there were already under water nearly one hundred and twenty square blocks, located in the section along the south bank of the Ohio River. The other towns, Bromley, Dayton and Ludlow, were still without outside communication, but reports from there were that there was no immediate need of assistance.


The river continued to mount. It rose two-tenths of a foot during Monday night and early Tuesday the stage was 69.8 feet. The weather forecaster, Devereaux, said he expected the river to rise another tenth, after which it probably would recede. Up-river points reported the river either stationary or falling slowly.151

At midnight Tuesday the river began to fall. The whole city breathed a sigh of relief. The Government stated that the river would be inside its banks within a week.


The direct and indirect damage caused in Cincinnati by the flooding of the river-front and low-lying residential sections was very great. An estimate of the indirect loss can never be made, while the direct loss is placed at more than $2,000,000.

Across the river in the Kentucky suburbs conditions were deplorable. Estimates were that one thousand homes there had been inundated and that more than four thousand persons were homeless.



The Flood in Western Ohio


The rushing torrent of water that swept down the Miami River, surging over Dayton, devastated a score or more of towns in its mad course from the creeks around Bellefontaine to the point southwest of Cincinnati where the waters of the Miami merge with those of the Ohio.


Cries of distress arose from Bellefontaine on Wednesday, March 26th. At that time millions of gallons of water were pounding against the banks of the Lewiston reservoir, fifteen miles from Bellefontaine, and it was feared that if the increasing flood should burst the banks the lives of every inhabitant of the Lower Miami Valley would be imperiled.

The immense reservoir at Lewiston did burst its banks between Lake View and Russell's Point and swept through the great Miami Valley like a tidal wave. It was this vast quantity of water, added to the already overflowing river, that inundated the cities of Sidney and Piqua.

The engraving shows a view of Broadway, Watervliet, New York, the principal business street of that city, covered with eight feet of water

Photograph by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. The engraving shows a view of Broadway, Watervliet, New York, the principal business street of that city, covered with eight feet of water

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The bridge shown in the illustration leads to the Carnegie Steel Company at Youngstown, Ohio. Ordinarily this bridge is far enough above the water to allow the large river steamers to pass under

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. The bridge shown in the illustration leads to the Carnegie Steel Company at Youngstown, Ohio. Ordinarily this bridge is far enough above the water to allow the large river steamers to pass under

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153At Sidney there was no loss of life, but the town was badly flooded and early reports of loss of life ran high.


The flooded Miami swept over Piqua in a great deluge. The water reached the first floor of the Plaza Hotel, which is situated in the high part of the city. Panic-stricken the people fled from their homes or sought refuge in the upper stories of high buildings. Fire broke out in many places. At one point in the city the water was twelve feet deep. Many persons were drowned. Many lost all their possessions.

Relief measures were taken by city authorities. The property loss was great, as most of the manufacturing plants were destroyed by the flood. A company of militia from Covington maintained order and cared for those made destitute by the flood.


The town of Troy was also a heavy sufferer. The state troops who arrived in the town on March 27th with provisions for Dayton were stranded.

One-third of the town was cut off from gas, electricity and water supply. A train load of provisions arrived. The provisions were carefully distributed.

One-half of the state troops left on foot for Dayton, following the tracks of the railroad.

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Miamisburg, a town of eight thousand, was cut off for days. When news finally reached neighboring towns the death list was estimated at twenty-five. Later estimates placed it at less. Only one body has been recovered, but the property damage ran high.


As the result of the worst cloudburst known in twenty years the great bridge over the Miami River, at Middletown, was carried out on March 25th. Fifteen persons were afterward missing and scores of houses could be seen floating down the stream. The water and electric light plants were out of commission.

Two hundred houses were under water, their former occupants finding shelter in the school houses, churches and city buildings. The great Miami River was a mile wide at this point.

The city was practically cut off from the outside world. Tracks of both the Big Four and Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroads were under water and no trains were running. The tracks of the Ohio Electric Railway were washed out in many places. A portion of the state dam in the Miami River, north of Middletown, was washed away.

Water from the river started the Maimi and Erie Canal on a rampage and submerged half of Lakeside, a suburb. The families of Harold Gillespie and Mrs. Mary Fisher were forced to flee from their homes in their night clothes.156

The casualty list could not be estimated with accuracy. It was believed that from fifty to one hundred had been claimed by the waters.

About three o'clock the following morning the river began to fall slowly, but the situation was still dangerous. Supplies were rapidly running out, and a food famine was looked for. Misery was averted by the arrival of food late Thursday night, but building of fires was not permitted. The authorities feared an outbreak of flames similar to the Dayton conflagration. Ten thousand of the eighteen thousand population were homeless.


Of all the cities in the Miami Valley with the exception of Dayton, Hamilton was hardest hit. Many persons killed, a thousand houses wrecked by the rushing torrent and 15,000 homeless was the toll of the flood in this city and environs, and the harrowing scenes attending flood disasters in the past decade faded into insignificance when compared with the havoc wrought by the latest deluge.

Before darkness blotted out the scene on March 25th, house after house, with the occupants clinging to the roofs and screaming for help, floated on the breast of the flood, but the cries for help had to go unanswered because of the lack of boats. What little rescue work there was accomplished was done before night came on, as the rescuers were powerless after darkness.

The city was then without light of any kind, the electric157 light and gas plants being ten feet under water. Soldiers rushed to this city from Columbus were in charge of the situation, the town being under martial law.

The victims of the raging waters were caught like rats in a trap, so fast did the flood pour in on them, and few had even a fighting chance for their lives. Ghastly in the extreme was the situation. The cries of the women and children as they faced inevitable death, and the frantic but unsuccessful efforts of husbands and fathers to rescue loved ones, presented a scene that will go down in the history of world's catastrophes as one of the worst on record.

Fire added to the horror of the situation when shortly after midnight the plant of the Champion Coated Paper Company, which is six blocks long by one block wide, broke into flames. In less than a quarter of an hour the entire factory was a mass of fire and there was no chance of checking its progress in the least as the water service needed by the fire department was put out of commission early in the day.

The Beckett Company's paper mill, valued at $500,000 for buildings and equipment, collapsed into the flood the following morning.


On Wednesday, March 26th, the river began to fall at the rate of nine inches an hour. After the season of awful horror the change brought hope. The work of rescue and relief, however, was exceedingly difficult.

There were only a few boats that could be used in the158 work of rescue and relief. Ohio National Guardsmen who arrived from Cincinnati Tuesday night did heroic work. They came in four motor trucks and brought food and clothing with them. One of the trucks returned to Cincinnati for more boats.

A relief train arrived from Indianapolis Wednesday morning and other cars and automobile trucks, loaded with supplies, managed to reach the outskirts of the city.

The Lakeview Hotel, which had previously housed fifty refugees, collapsed early Wednesday, but all the occupants left in time to escape death.

Williamsdale, Cooke, Otto and Overpeck, the north suburbs of Hamilton, were in ruins. On the west side of the river many residences were saved, but there was despair among the survivors, who were unable to get word from husbands and fathers who were caught on the east side and unable to cross after bridges were destroyed. Efforts to get lines across the river were futile.

Provisions for the homeless continued arriving in abundance, but the gas, electric light and water plants were in ruins and this added to the terrors of the living.

More than two hundred and fifty persons spent two days and nights in the little court house without light, food, water or heat, and often they were drenched with rain that leaked through holes in the roof.


As the flood waters receded on March 27th, the authorities immediately began the work of removing the dead. The first hour of the search saw ten bodies uncovered from the ruins, and the most conservative estimates placed the death roll at fifty.159

THE FLOOD IN MIAMI VALLEY The above map shows a part of Ohio which was devastated by the most disastrous flood in American history. A large number of small streams converge into larger streams and then into still larger water courses, several of which form a junction at Dayton, where the greatest loss of life and the heaviest damage to property occurred.


The above map shows a part of Ohio which was devastated by the most disastrous flood in American history. A large number of small streams converge into larger streams and then into still larger water courses, several of which form a junction at Dayton, where the greatest loss of life and the heaviest damage to property occurred.

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160Piled high upon the east side of the court house on Friday were coffins awaiting the flood victims, whose bodies were being gathered as rapidly as possible.

On April 3d, the city offered a reward of ten dollars for each body recovered from the debris left by the flood. Up to that time seventy-one bodies had been recovered. It was believed, however, that many bodies had been swept out of the Miami into the Ohio River and perhaps would never be found.

DAMAGE OF $4,000,000

Secretary Garrison, of the War Department, who toured the flood district of Hamilton on March 30th, as the personal representative of President Wilson, was told that the property loss was estimated at $4,000,000.

With Secretary Garrison were Major-General Wood, chief of staff of the army, and Major McCoy. They permeated the very heart of the city through zones of devastation which in many respects rivaled in horror those through which they passed in Dayton. They saw block after block in both the residential and business sections of the city, where street lines virtually were eliminated by upheaved and overturned houses jammed against each other and against the buildings which withstood the shock, in great and almost unbroken heaps of debris.

South Lebanon was cut off from Lebanon by a raging161 current that swept all the surrounding farm lands, entailing a property loss of thousands of dollars. All rivers and creeks south of Dayton to Lebanon were swollen by a heavy rainfall.

The flooding of the Miami at Cleves, seven miles below Cincinnati, caused the railroad embankment to break and that part of the town was under fifteen feet of water. The operator at Cleves said he distinctly heard cries for help, but he could not learn if there was any loss of life or the extent of the property damage.

The following day the waters had receded, but part of the city was still under water; no loss of life was reported. Hartwell and the vicinity felt the force of the rising Mill Creek caused by the breaking of the canal at Lockland. The large factories at Ivorydale were forced to close down, and many thousands of employees were thrown out of work.


The Grand Reservoir at Celina, Ohio, in the extreme western part of the state, seriously threatened Celina and the adjacent towns. For two days the very worst was feared, but on March 28th, the river was slightly lower and no water was flowing over the banks.


The Olentangy River, ordinarily only a creek, became a lake that covered most of Delaware. In many places people were left clinging to trees, roof-tops and telegraph poles crying for assistance. The work of rescue was practically impossible162 because of the swift current of the flood, and most of those who were seen trying to save themselves were swept away to death.

The village of Stratford, five miles to the south, was entirely under water and the loss great. Property damage in Delaware itself was estimated at $2,000,000.


Springfield suffered the worst flood in its history. Both Buck Creek and Mad River broke from their banks and flooded the lowlands. Several hundred houses in the eastern section of the city were surrounded by water. They contained families who refused to abandon their homes. Many factories were compelled to close.

There was no loss of life, but intense suffering due to insufficient food supply and the destruction of many homes.


The flooding of the Ohio in the southwestern part of the state caused disaster in many other towns besides Cincinnati. On April 1st the entire town of New Richmond was under water. The people took up quarters on the hills surrounding the town. Provisions were received from Batavia and there was no suffering. No one was reported dead or missing.

At Moscow, near New Richmond, fifty houses were washed from their foundations.



The Flood in Northern Ohio


No section of the country suffered more extensively from the flood than Ohio, of which state no part seemed to escape. In the northern counties the loss of life and damage to property were quite as extensive as in many other parts.

Fed by incessant rains, the Mahoning River rose at the rate of seven-eighths of an inch per hour until it reached a stage of twenty-five feet, which was ten feet higher than ever before recorded. Every large industrial plant in the city was flooded and fully 25,000 workmen were out of employment.

The financial loss to the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, Republic Iron and Steel Company, Carnegie Steel Company and other plants easily reached $2,500,000, while the loss in wages to men was extremely heavy because of the fact that weeks elapsed before the industries were again able to operate at full capacity. Fully 14,000 workmen employed in various industries of the city are thrown out of employment as a result of the high water.164

At East Youngstown the Mahoning River was nearly half a mile wide and the Pennsylvania lines through the city and for a number of miles east were entirely submerged. The Austintown branch bridge of the Erie, which crosses the Mahoning River, was weighted down with a train to prevent its being washed away, the water having already reached the girders. Every bridge was guarded by policemen.

But one pump was working at the water-works pumping station. The flood was the worst experienced by Youngstown since October, 1911, when millions of dollars of damage was done.

Two hundred families were temporarily homeless, but the Chamber of Commerce with a relief fund of $10,000, attended promptly to their welfare.

Youngstown's only water supply during the flood was from the Republic Rubber Company, pumping 3,000,000 gallons a day, and the Mahoning Valley Water Company, which turned 4,000,000 gallons a day into the city mains from its reservoir at Struthers.

At Girard, northeast of Youngstown, Mrs. Frank Captis, who was rescued just before her home was swept away in the flood, gave birth to a baby boy at the home of a friend, where she was taken. The baby was named Noah.


At Cleveland scores of families were driven out of their homes by the greatest flood in the city's history. Many narrow escapes from drowning were reported from all over165 the city, where people were being transferred in rowboats by police and other rescuers.

One big bridge, in the heart of the city, used by the New York Central lines, went down. The steel steamer, "Mack," moored to it was unharmed. All traffic was kept off the bridge and no one was hurt. The loss exceeds $75,000. Other bridges were in danger. Boats broke from their moorings and battered the shore. Dynamite was used to open a way for the water into the lake. Great damage was done all along the Cuyahoga River through Cleveland, where hundreds of big manufacturing plants are located. Fifty thousand men were idle. The telegraph companies were crippled and many lights were out throughout the city, as the electric-light plants were partly under water. All the suburbs suffered severely.

All railroad traffic in Cleveland was suspended because of washouts and no trains entered or left. The Lake Shore Railroad tracks along the shore of Lake Erie were thought immune, but that road suffered along with the Big Four, Pennsylvania and Wheeling and Lake Erie.

Boston, Ohio, and Peninsula, Ohio, between twenty-five and twenty-eight miles south of Cleveland, on the Cuyahoga River, were submerged.

The dam of the Cleveland and Akron Bag Company went out at four o'clock Thursday morning, March 27th, dropping thousands of tons of water into the valley in which the two villages, with a total population of about four thousand five hundred, are located.166



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The big state reservoir three miles south of Akron, which supplies water for the Ohio Canal, broke Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock, sending a flood of millions of gallons of water167 which swept away farmhouses and other buildings from the banks of the canal and damaged several million dollars' worth of property.

The huge volume of water which had been gathering in the three hundred-acre reservoir caused a report that there was danger of the concrete walls bursting. Most of those living near the canal sought refuge in Akron.

When the heavy rain continued over night the dam began to show signs of wear. Cracks in the concrete appeared. All during the night horses were kept saddled to carry the news ahead if the danger became imminent. When the masonry showed flaws Thursday morning the riders were sent out. They started several hours before the dam collapsed, and warned everybody near the canal in time for them to escape. The rush of water from the broken dam struck the city within a few minutes after the break.

Most of the bridges in the county were swept away. The city was in total darkness at night, and telephone and telegraph connections were destroyed. A few bodies were seen floating down the canal. Many houses were swept away.


At Massilon five known dead, three thousand homeless, half the town inundated and heavy property damage was the toll of flood water from the Tuscarawas River. The town was without light and gas. Citizens raised $11,000 to aid the sufferers.

The effect of the flood at Fremont was very severe. The168 water in Main Street was fifteen feet deep. Wires were down and buildings collapsed. Several lives were lost.

Death and intense suffering marked the great flood which swept clean the Sandusky valley. Tiffin became a city of desolation. Every bridge went down, and half the city was under water. Many were carried to death in the treacherous currents.



The Flood in Eastern Ohio


In the eastern part of the state there were two great floods, the flood of the Muskingum River and the flood of the Ohio River. Besides these there were many local floods of grave importance.

Mount Vernon, in Knox County, was hard hit by the flood. Many lives were lost, communication was entirely cut off, and thousands of dollars worth of damage was done. Miles of track on the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio Railroads were washed away.


For two days Millersburg was completely cut off. The river rose four feet higher than ever before. It swept through the170 Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad depot two feet deep, driving everybody out. Water, gas and electric light were shut off with the exception of one gas line.

Telephone service was limited, hence nothing could be sent or received for two days—until intermittent communication was re-established.


The flood in the Tuscarawas River was the worst in its history. All the lowlands were under water, and a highway bridge west of Dennison was carried out by the tide. Two bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio, near Uhrichsville, were washed away, and the village of Lockport was cut off from all communication. Supplies in Lockport were exhausted and two men were reported drowned.

Eighteen families were marooned in the school house at Port Washington, ten miles west of Dennison, on the Tuscarawas River. Operator A. W. Davis, of the Pan Handle Railroad, was isolated in a signal tower for several days without food or fire.

Newcomerstown was isolated for four days. All houses in the village, with the exception of those on Rodney Hill, were flooded by the Tuscarawas River. There was no death, but great damage.

Conditions throughout the Tuscarawas Valley were very bad. From a point near Uhrichsville, about one hundred miles west of Pittsburgh, to Coshocton, a distance of thirty miles, the valley was one great lake. Thousands of acres of171 the richest farm lands in Ohio were under water and the loss of live stock was heavy.


The Tuscarawas and Walhonding Rivers unite at Coshocton to form the Muskingum River, and it is the water from these swollen streams that poured down to Zanesville, thirty-two miles below, and thence to Marietta.

Reports from points along the Muskingum River, all told the same story of destruction, flooded towns and great property damage. Many days were required to restore railway communication.

Above Coshocton on the Walhonding River many villages were flooded and the loss to farmers was great.

Coshocton itself naturally suffered. A railroad bridge on the Columbus division of the Pan Handle Railroad went out, and scores of highway bridges throughout the section were washed away. All the streams were torrents.


"Entire city under water. It is coming into our office. Have placed the records as high as I possibly can and have done everything possible. The building next door has just collapsed and I am compelled to leave now for safety——"

This message flashed across the wire as the operator at Zanesville fled for life. With fifteen reported dead, and the Muskingum River at a stage of forty feet and still rising, the city faced the worst flood in its history. The big Sixth172 Street bridge had already been swept away by the flood, and much of the business section was inundated.

At least two thousand had been driven from their homes by the high water. Food was growing scarce and the water was threatening the light and water plants.

The suffering during the night was intense. The temperature took a sudden drop and the thousands who were forced to spend the night marooned in buildings or on the hills without heat and proper clothing presented a spectacle to excite pity.

With the break of day on March 27th, disorder and terror prevailed throughout the whole city. The Muskingum, in its rampage, was sixteen feet higher than the previous record mark set in 1898. The city was one vast lake and the waters covered the valley from hill to hill. Only the buildings high on the sides of the slopes escaped the ravages of the deluge. The water varied in depth from one to fifteen feet. Many lives were sacrificed.

Six hundred buildings were torn from their foundations and swept away by the mill race currents, while many others collapsed and were hurled against those still holding.

The water reached a depth of eight inches in the Clarendon and Rogge hotels at noon on Thursday. The court house was surrounded.

In sections which were bearing the brunt of the deluge little could be done to relieve the people who were marooned in their houses and in the large buildings. Every effort was being directed by the city officials and volunteer relief parties173 to lend aid to the sufferers, but the swift, onward rush of the waters made the undertaking extra hazardous.

The authorities turned their efforts toward relieving the suffering of women and children driven from their homes by the high water, and some progress had been made. Putnam lay in ruins. Muskingum and Linden Avenues had been washed out, and where three days before stood many residences, watchers from the highest buildings saw nothing but a waste of swirling waters.


The valley between Zanesville and Marietta became a surging lake, which picked up buildings and everything movable and carried them along with incredible speed. The loss of property was tremendous.

Marietta suffered from the swollen waters of both the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers. The situation was serious on Wednesday; by Sunday it was alarming. At eight o'clock Saturday morning the river had reached the stage of 60.6 and was still rising. All the business section of the town was flooded and many residences were under water. There were no public utilities in operation and food and medical supplies were sorely needed. There were many rumors concerning loss of life, but the swift current prevented communication to those parts of the city where persons were reported drowned.

Immediately upon reciept of the message from Whipple, a station on the Marietta Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad, that Marietta was under water, preparations were made174 by the railroad company to send out a relief train from Cambridge. It reached Whipple Saturday night and from there help was brought to the distressed city.


The flooded Scioto River, which surged through the streets of Columbus, carried destruction down through farm lands and towns to the Ohio River. Circleville, Chillicothe and Portsmouth, being the principal towns on the river course, suffered most.

At Circleville on March 26th all the bridges had been washed away, and the Scioto River stood three feet higher than ever before. Another rise was promised. The city was cut off from railroad communication, and all trains on roads entering Circleville were annulled.


Many dead, one hundred houses washed away, and property loss of $1,000,000—such was the tale of destruction in Chillicothe. On Friday, March 28th, the waters had begun to recede, leaving seven bodies hanging on the Kilgore bridge, three miles south of the city, but it was impossible to recover them immediately.

Conditions were much improved, the light plant having been able to resume service, and the water supply also was now adequate. The water had receded from the streets, and all public utilities resumed operations.

The homeless refugees were being cared for in the homes175 which withstood the flood and in school houses. Provisions were plentiful and there was no disorder. Many citizens were sworn in as deputy marshals.

The looting problem was one difficulty for the authorities. Notwithstanding their efforts much looting took place.

Near Omega, to the south, Mr. and Mrs. Hatfield and their family of seven children were drowned when their home, barn and all their other buildings were swept down the river.


Portsmouth presented a picture of distress as the flood from the swollen Scioto and Ohio Rivers advanced. On the night of March 27th the Scioto bridge was swept away by the flood. By morning hundreds of persons had been driven from their homes, school houses had been thrown open to the homeless, the streets were filled with household goods and merchants in the heart of the city were moving their wares to places of safety in anticipation of flood conditions more serious than ever before.

On March 29th the Ohio River stood at sixty-eight feet, the highest ever known, and was rising.

Fire broke out in several places and was difficult to control because the flood had interfered with the water facilities.

Efficient management, however, soon brought the situation under control.

The arrival of the steamers, "Klondike" and "J. I. Ware," on March 31st, brought sufficient provisions to supply those in need for a week.176


We have already seen the swollen waters of the Ohio at Cincinnati, Portsmouth and Marietta. It remains to treat of the devastation wrought in other Ohio River towns in the eastern and southern parts.

At East Liverpool on March 27th, more than a thousand families were driven from their homes, five thousand potters were deprived of employment temporarily and the city water works were out of commission as the result of the flood. The electric light plant was seriously threatened and trolley lines were tied up.

The following day the river had eclipsed the 48.8 foot stage of 1884. A stage of at least fifty-one feet was expected.

Conditions remained the same, but the situation at Wellsville, a city of ten thousand, three miles south, was perilous. Over three thousand were homeless. The city is located on a flat promontory, with the eastern portion a slight apex against the fast rising stream.

Back water had already made an island of the city, precluding any possibility of escape to the high hills.

Both East Liverpool and Wellsville were in darkness because of the shutting down of the power plants. All the river front potteries and mills were idle. Street railway and railroad traffic was at a standstill.

Police and fire departments of Wellsville and East Liverpool made many thrilling rescues during the day. Seven Italians, dumped from a skiff, were taken from the water half drowned.177

Food supplies were diminishing at Wellsville, there was no electricity or gas, the supply of coal was constantly lessening and the river still rising.


At Steubenville the Ohio River at 9 o'clock on March 26th was at the 34.4-foot stage and rising at the rate of seven tenths of an inch an hour. The west part of the town was under water and twenty-five houses flooded. Many families were rescued by wagons. Five large manufacturing plants were forced to close down, throwing 1,300 men out of work.


The river at Gallipolis reached the sixty-seven-foot stage, six feet higher than ever before, but was gradually falling. The State Hospital remained unharmed, and was for a time taking care of two hundred people, while the town was taking care of three hundred. There was no loss of life. Traffic was at a standstill, and train service into Gallipolis suspended.


Ironton suffered by both flood and fire. A block and a half in the business center of the city were consumed by fire and several buildings were dynamited to check the flames. No loss of life occurred.

A citizen of Ironton wired to a friend in Philadelphia:

"Floods here awful. Any charity funds that can be directed here through clubs or otherwise would be appreciated."178


Even taking into account the tremendous seriousness of the flood in Dayton and Columbus, the situation all along the Ohio River was one that called for sympathy and sustained relief. Governor Cox, of Ohio, in one of his early proclamations covering relief work said:

"There is every indication that the Ohio River will reach the highest stage in its history. Calls for food and clothing are coming from unexpected parts of the State. A critical situation has developed in all Ohio River towns. We are still greatly in need of help."



The Flood in Eastern Indiana


"Every stream we crossed seemed to be a raging torrent, its waters racing at top speed," said one traveler who arrived in Chicago on March 26th. "We could hear the swish of the waters and hear the cries of people in distress," reported another.

Yet these eye-witnesses could not see the worst of the four vast floods that swept over the state of Indiana, tying up the railroads, rendering thousands of persons homeless, killing scores of others, wiping out whole towns. Just how many persons lost their lives in the great floods will probably never be known.


Indiana had known many devastating floods, but none like to this in either destructive force or extent. On March 26th three distinct flood districts prevailed—the eastern part of the state including the valley of the White Water River and the Fort Wayne territory, the valley of the White River180 and its tributaries, and the valley of the Wabash. Later the flooding of the Ohio River and its tributaries added to the awful tale of disaster. The entire state was practically one huge sea, and every brook, creek and river exacted its toll of damage.

The overflow, coming with astonishing suddenness, caught farmers throughout the state unprepared and the breaking of levees in many places forced persons living along the rivers to desert their homes. In the crowded cities it added woe upon woe.

The appalling swiftness with which the waters rose found city as well as state unprepared. Streams that were brooks Easter morning had become raging torrents on Tuesday. Persons who retired in apparently safe homes Monday were rescued the following day from second-story windows with boats. Lowlands became vast lakes.

The dawn of Wednesday, March 26th, found anxiety in Indiana centered in Brookville and Connersville, on the White Water River, from which frantic appeals for aid were received by Governor Ralston.

Other despatches from the same region declared that the smaller towns of Metamora, Cedar Grove and Prenton were swept away completely.


Sixteen persons were drowned at Brookville, when they were caught by the east and west forks of White Water River which meet in that town. Survivors told of attempts181 of men, women and children to escape by the light of lanterns. Cross currents rushing along streets and alleys carried them down to a united stream a mile wide just south of the town.

Five children, all of one family, were seen clinging to posts of an old-fashioned wooden bed when they were swept into the main stream and lost.

The person from Connersville who first talked with the Governor said that a break in the White Water River levee had flooded the valley, sweeping many persons before it. After that it was impossible to re-establish communication even for a few minutes. Militia were ready all during the night to hurry to the town, but no train was operated in that direction.


Five wagon bridges, the Big Four Railroad bridge, the depot and a paper mill were utterly destroyed. Fifty summer houses on White Water River south of Brookville were washed away, foundations and all. People, bowed down by the calamity, gathered in churches, where religious services were held. None of the bodies were recovered for several days.

Hall Schuster was drowned Thursday night in an attempt to cross the West Fork of the White River at Brookville to rescue Harlan Kennedy, a hermit, formerly a Methodist minister.

Two hundred and fifty children rescued from the flood had only night clothes. Wagon trains carried food and clothing from Connersville to the stricken people.

On Friday, March 28th, the list of known dead in Brookville182 was sixteen. Heavy loss of property and a food and fuel famine imminent were the precise situation.

There were six persons missing, and it was feared that they had been drowned and their bodies washed away or buried in debris that had not yet been searched.

Brookville was practically under martial law, and twenty men were driven out of the city after they were discovered looting damaged homes and buildings.


News from Laurel reached Connersville on Saturday when Deputy Postmaster George Lockwood came through on horseback. He said the White Water River valley, eleven miles around Laurel, was flooded, and the damage estimated at $300,000.

Four buildings and many small houses were wrecked in Laurel, but no lives were lost. Several farmers in the valley between Brookville and Laurel were missing and their houses had disappeared. Several other towns in the valley were inundated and many houses had been swept away.


At Fort Wayne, in the northeastern part of the state at the confluence of the St. Mary's and the Maumee Rivers, the flood surged for three days.

A keeper in the Orphan Asylum and five men in a surfboat did splendid work in saving seventy-five inmates of the asylum from drowning. All life-saving stations in the flooded183 district devoted their utmost efforts to the work of rescue and used their funds and supplies without stint. The relief work was in every way well organized.


On March 28th, with the flood receding at the rate of three inches an hour, Fort Wayne had the situation in control and stood ready to assist its less fortunate neighbors. Many of the refugees were able to get back into their homes. The property loss was estimated at $4,000,000, and it was almost certain that the loss of life would not exceed six.

The pumping station had been started up the previous night, two locomotives sent by the Lake Shore Railroad furnishing the power. The water was being pumped from the river. The only drinking water available for several days was brought in bottles.



The Desolation of Indianapolis and the Valley of the White River


The two great forks of the White River and their tributaries drain about half of the area of Indiana. Indianapolis, the capital of the state, is situated on the West Fork. In this city and more particularly in West Indianapolis the torrent roaring through the White River valley did its worst damage.

Hundreds of spectators were watching the river on Tuesday evening, March 25th, when, with a roar that could be heard for blocks, hundreds of tons of dirt in the Morris Street levee crumbled under the pressure, and great walls of water rushed through the opening.

Men, women and children fought through the water toward a near-by bridge, which seemed to offer the only safety. Many houses were torn to pieces by the rush of the water,185 and others were carried away. Families in one-story homes were at the mercy of the sudden rush of water that followed. The people were literally trapped in their own houses.


Other towns affected by the flooding of the White River and its tributaries were Muncie, Elwood, Anderson, Noblesville, Bloomington, Washington, Newcastle, Rushville, Shelbyville, etc. At Noblesville the river was the highest it had been in thirty-three years, at Muncie a dike in the water plant broke and the city was without fire protection. At Rushville Flat Rock Creek waters rose with a roar, and clanging fire bells warned the people to flee. The entire business section was submerged. One person met death in Muncie; one in Newcastle; one in Rushville, and five in West Indianapolis.

Indianapolis awoke the following morning to find the waters higher than ever appeared before, with a property loss that two days before would have been unbelievable. It was hard to bring the full realization of the damage to the people, who had no thought of a flood from streams that ordinarily are unimportant, aiding only in beautifying the city's parks and boulevard driveways.


During the night the water advanced upon the exclusive residence section along Fall Creek. It tore away one bridge, destroyed the city's most pretentious driveway and forced186 the families living along its banks to desert their palatial homes.

A few hours before they had no idea they were in any danger, and were awakened by the militiamen to be ordered from the threatened buildings, only to find every hotel in the city full. They were cared for at the homes of friends.

The Washington Street bridge over the White River that connects Indianapolis and West Indianapolis, which was closed for traffic late Tuesday night, in the early morning was torn apart by the waters, the floor of the structure being carried away.


With the breaking of day came the proposition of feeding the refugees. The city appropriated money to supply immediate needs and a relief fund was started. Drinking water was at a premium, and water for bathing was practically unattainable.

Schools were closed, and there was a general suspension of business. The water in some of the streets north of Fall Creek, only fifteen miles from the business district, swept everything before it. The street cars remained standing in the streets where they were stopped when the power house was flooded. All interurban lines were at a standstill and the steam roads had poor success in getting trains out of the city. Passenger trains were shut out of the city on the lines entering from the West, and the passengers were forced to share the lot of the homeless refugees.187

By Thursday conditions in Indianapolis were such that Governor Ralston was impelled to issue a proclamation asking for general relief. Five hundred refugees from West Indianapolis were brought in small boats to the Blaine Street wharf. Some of these had been clinging to trees for hours. Others were taken from floating houses. Women with babies were taken from the upper stories of houses. The refugees said that many had been killed in Wolf Hall when the floors of that building gave way under the strain of hundreds who had taken refuge there. Reports of death were everywhere exaggerated, owing to the difficulty of accurate knowledge and the shattered nerves of the sufferers.


Systematic rescue work was rendered more difficult by a storm of snow and sleet. Tomlinson Hall, the great civic gathering place of the city, was converted into a temporary hospital. The homeless men, women and children from West Indianapolis, Broad Ripple and other suburbs devastated by the White River were taken to the hall and were fed and given medical attention. From Fort Benjamin Harrison 500 blankets and 500 mattresses and cots were obtained. Citizens' committees were in charge of the work of distributing food and of raising money. It was estimated that 10,000 persons in Indianapolis alone were in need of immediate assistance.

The situation was rendered graver by the outbreak of contagious diseases. Five women rescued and taken to Tomlinson188 Hall were suffering from pneumonia, and cases of whooping cough and measles were discovered among the refugees.

There were numerous cases of pneumonia. Measles and whooping cough attacked the children. Nearly all of the doctors of the city volunteered their services and asked for volunteer nurses.

Those suffering from contagious diseases were removed at once and inspectors from the city board of health aided by a corps of nurses detailed from various hospitals of the city set to work to prevent exposure of the refugees to contagion and to take care of the other sick.


Thieves took advantage of the wrecking of lighting plants to plunder deserted houses and even to rob survivors of the flood. In West Indianapolis the vandals and robbers became so bold that Governor Ralston placed that section of the city under martial law and sent a company of militia to guard the streets. Orders were given to shoot on sight any one caught at robbery.


The greed of provision dealers angered Governor Ralston to such an extent that he started an investigation. Before the supply of bread available on the West Side had been exhausted, loaves were selling at twenty cents each. The supply of meat was entirely exhausted.

That section of Indianapolis lying west of the river, where189 martial law was proclaimed, is the poorest in the city. The supply of meats, eggs, milk, coffee, bread and butter was practically exhausted before noon. Little except canned goods remained on the shelves of the grocers.

Relief trains loaded with provisions were unable to enter this district. Members of the board of public safety and other city officials inspected the entire flooded district from motor boats and directed efficient organization of the relief workers, aiding the state troops and state officials in every possible way.


By Friday the White River had begun to fall slowly, and the work of caring for the suffering could be prosecuted vigorously. It was estimated that the property loss in the city and environs would reach $10,000,000. Part of this loss was in destroyed bridges. The Vandalia Railroad bridge over the White River went down Friday, carrying with it ten loaded cars.

By Monday, March 31st, White River waters had returned to almost normal channel, and the areas that were covered were being searched to locate the bodies of any who might have been drowned. The city board of health prepared typhoid serum for 50,000 treatments to aid in warding off an epidemic. State troops were withdrawn.

On Tuesday hundreds of homes were cleaned and, with furniture which could be salvaged and that supplied by the Relief Committee, the owners were able to resume housekeeping.190 Relief funds were still increasing and all persons who lost homes or furniture in the flood were being cared for.

Many persons in the West Indianapolis flood district were treated with an anti-diphtheria vaccine, and Dr. T. V. Keene, in charge of the medical relief work in the flooded districts, said he feared no epidemic.


Hundreds of thousands of dollars were reported necessary to relieve suffering among the flood refugees in Indianapolis, according to the report of the General Relief Committee, made on Wednesday, April 2d, at a meeting in Mayor Shank's office.

Plans for raising a vast sum of money, to be made available immediately to the sufferers, were discussed and it was decided to start popular subscriptions and designate places for contributions.

Joseph C. Schaf, one of the investigators for the committee, said:

"The flood victims are helpless. They need money and need it immediately. The men are trying to hold their jobs and let the women clean up the homes, and it is a disheartening task for which many are not physically able. Give them money immediately so they can pile their water-soaked mattresses and other furniture in the street and touch a match to it. That will give them new heart."

Mr. Schaf increased his donation by $1,000, and several other members of the committee did likewise.



The Roaring Torrent of the Wabash


Bitter was the tale of destruction in the valley of the Wabash River and its tributaries. A traveler journeying over the Wabash Railroad on Easter Sunday would have seen only the usual quiet little towns of the Middle West; three days later, if he could have looked down over the same territory he would have seen nothing but a raging torrent sweeping through the region like some fiendish monster devouring and destroying as it pursued its mad course. He would have found the entire Wabash Valley, including Logansport, Wabash, Lafayette and Peru, a desolate scene, its scores of prosperous cities absolutely paralyzed and cut off from the outer world. Telephone and telegraph wires were down everywhere; trains were not running and roads were obliterated.192


As early as Monday, March 24th, northern Indiana had suffered severe loss, due to the heavy rains of the previous twenty-four hours, which had carried away bridges, stopped railroad and interurban traffic, flooded store basements, driven people from their homes along the river banks, and washed away houses. At Hartford City there were seven feet of water in the paper mills and the merchants had lost heavily from flooded basements.

At Portland water was standing three feet deep in the center of the city and the loss to merchants from damage to goods reached $100,000.

The wind, which followed heavy rain, cut a path several hundred feet wide.

At Kokomo the light, heat, power, gas and water plants were out of commission and the river was still rising. The city was without fire protection; South Kokomo, with 6,000 inhabitants, was cut off from the main city.

It was declared to be the worst flood known in Wabash since 1883; and rain was still falling. Hundreds of residents of the lowlands abandoned their homes. Interurban traffic was paralyzed.


Reports on the following day were still more alarming. The worst conditions prevailed in Kokomo, Wabash, Peru, Logansport, Lafayette and Terra Haute. Thousands of people all along the Wabash were crying for food and shelter.193 Wabash, Kokomo, Peru, Logansport and Lafayette were entirely cut off from communication with the outside world. A big snowstorm on the heels of a drop in temperature added to the suffering.

Rescue work was carried on by volunteers, police, firemen and the state militia, and every place where there was a dry home was thrown open to the flood refugees.

From many places frantic appeals for aid were received by the state officials, but lack of all means of transportation and crippled telephone and telegraph service forced the submerged towns to rely entirely upon their own resources.


At Kokomo the water in some of the streets was eight feet deep and rushing like a mountain torrent. Schools and business were suspended and state troops patrolled the town as far as they were able. The homes of a thousand persons were submerged. No lives were lost, but there were many narrow escapes. Several persons were rescued from second story windows by the few boats available. Rafts could not be used because of the swiftness of the current.


Seven hundred and fifty persons in Wabash were rendered homeless as the result of the high flood in the river. The city was without gas, water or lighting facilities.

The mayor on Thursday, March 27th, issued a proclamation ordering that all saloons and business houses close at194 six o'clock. He instructed the police to keep people off the streets.

There was no loss of life, but the property loss was estimated at $350,000.

There was no communication with the outside world from Monday until Thursday afternoon.


The business district and the south and west sides of Logansport were under water on Tuesday. The bridge at the country club had been washed away. Other bridges over the Wabash had been flooded. The moving vans were unable to handle all the persons trying to move out of the danger zone and the firemen of the city gave aid. The electric light and water plants were endangered. There was great suffering among the poorer people. Logansport was also cut off from telephone and telegraph communication. Two deaths by drowning were reported (later corrected to one) and ten houses were washed down stream.


On Wednesday the flood waters of the Wabash were sixteen feet deep on the floors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station, and cadets from the Culver Military Academy were rushed to the city to aid in the rescue and relief of scores of people marooned in the business districts.

The Third Street bridge had been swept away. The bridge at Sixth Street was being washed out. The people195 were fleeing to the hills, where they were housed in school houses and churches.

By indirect telephone routes on Thursday, Governor Ralston received an urgent call from Logansport for troops to aid in rescue work and to patrol the city. The city had been cut off from reliable communication with the outside world since Tuesday evening. The continuance of the high waters added hourly to the heavy property losses, and the snowstorm and bitter cold caused intense suffering.


At 2 P. M. on Tuesday, March 25th, two spans of the bridge over the Wabash River at Lafayette went out, carrying a number of people with it. Boats below the bridge succeeded in rescuing all but one man.

At 3.15 P. M. West Lafayette, where Purdue University is located, was cut off from Lafayette by the breaking of one of the levees and the submerging of the other. The river was two miles wide and business houses were preparing to move their wares, anticipating a three-foot rise during the night. No interurban lines were being operated and steam lines were making little effort to maintain train service.

The business district and the south and west sides of Logansport were under water. The bridge at the Country Club had been washed away.


All down the length of the Wabash the torrent raged. Hardly recovering from the daze of the Easter tornado, treated196 in another chapter, Terra Haute inside of forty-eight hours faced its second disaster, when the waters of the Wabash left the banks, flooding part of the residence section.

The river was then rising at the rate of five inches an hour. Railroad traffic was suspended and interurban traction service had been abandoned. Residents of Taylorville, Robertsville and West Terre Haute deserted their homes, fleeing before the approaching waters. Five hundred homes were under water and the coal mines near the city were flooded.

For two days the situation seemed to grow hourly more desperate. On Thursday the river had reached a stage of thirty-one feet six inches and was steadily rising. Four thousand persons were homeless, and those whose homes were on higher ground were without gas or electricity. Traffic was at a standstill.


But slowly the waters receded and the work of reconstruction was begun. On down the river the disaster-bringing torrent traveled. Throughout all southern Indiana the river reached unprecedented stages and hundreds were driven from their homes. Railroad lines were covered with water through many counties, and on March 31st the river was reported forty miles wide between Upton, Indiana, and Carmi, Illinois.



The Plight of Peru: A Stricken City


Of all the cities devastated by flood in Indiana, Peru was the most desolated. Situated on the Wabash River just below the entrance of the Mississinewa, it suffered more than any of the stricken cities through which the angry, swollen waters of the Wabash flowed.

"This probably will be the last message you will get from Peru," said the man who telegraphed to Governor Ralston on March 25th, asking for coffins, food and clothing. "Two hundred or more are drowned and the remainder of the residents are waiting for daylight."


Governor Ralston immediately communicated with State Senator Fleming at Fort Wayne and asked him to forward the coffins and other supplies as requested.198

When the messages of distress from Peru were sent forth South Bend and other cities sprang nobly to the rescue. They found the people half crazed from exposure, want and fear. One of the rescue party who made the trip in the first boat that entered the city said:

"The cry to be saved from those who saw the first boat was heartrending. Some of them threatened to jump into the water if we did not take them aboard. But it was impossible with the scant boat supply to take all away at once."


Relief parties from South Bend were the first to arrive on the scene. They found hundreds of people huddled together in the court house square, which was three miles from the nearest dry land; hundreds more were marooned in the upper stories of buildings already rendered unsafe by the high water. There was no heat, no light, no water, and sanitary conditions were horrible. The only motor boat had broken and it was too dangerous to venture into the raging torrent in rowboats. This made it impossible for the South Bend relief volunteers to get blankets and food to the sufferers.


Death faced hundreds of persons who were clinging to the roofs of buildings, where they sought refuge. Currents of muddy water from ten to twenty-five feet deep were running through the main streets at twenty miles an hour.

Harry Lumley, a despatcher, lay on a table all Wednesday199 in the Peru station of the Lake Erie and Western Railroad, which the water had invaded, and kept open the line for relief trains.

Dr. W. A. Huff, a dentist, started to South Peru with an unknown man Tuesday night. The boat capsized and Huff lodged in a tree, where he remained until Wednesday morning. His condition was critical.

No effort was made to count the dead. "Our energies are being devoted entirely to saving those still living," said Lieutenant-Governor O'Neill. "It is impossible for us even to try to learn the whereabouts of the bodies just now."


Citizens, finding lawlessness in every block of the city above water, organized a vigilance committee with orders to shoot looters.

On Wednesday night several thousand persons were still marooned in the court house, hospital, factory buildings and other structures because the various relief parties sent from South Bend and other cities had not sufficient boats to carry them to the nearest dry land. Snow was falling heavily and the suffering was intense, because of the lack of heating facilities. The city was in darkness, except for a scant supply of lanterns.


But the height of the flood had been reached. On Thursday the water was receding three inches an hour. It had fallen four feet since the previous morning, but the current200 was still so swift on Canton Street and in South Peru, that it was impossible to investigate in rowboats the district in which the heaviest loss of life was supposed to have occurred.

There were three inches of snow on the ground and it was still falling. Recovering from the flood, Peru organized to meet greater menaces, famine and disease. At a meeting in the courtroom at the county building, Lieutenant-Governor O'Neill was chosen head of the committee on organization.

Hundreds of persons marooned in the second stories of their homes appealed to passing boats for food, fuel and water. Fishermen seized some of the boats and were taking the curious sightseeing. Persons who appropriated boats and tied them up were arrested.

There were 500 persons at the Bears Hotel in Peru. Their only fire was a grate in the lobby. Two meals a day were served. The water had receded so that a Lake Erie and Western relief train was pulled up to the canning factory in the northeast part of the town and took out 200 persons marooned three days. They were taken to towns along Lake Erie. It was estimated that 2,000 persons had left the city and were being cared for in towns and school houses to the north. The relief committee discouraged the influx of people who came to Peru to see and eat, as there were more mouths to feed than there were provisions.

Lieutenant-Governor O'Neill remained in Peru to insure whatever aid the state could give the sufferers. He ordered the Indiana Board of Health to send experts to make the city sanitary. These specialists had the co-operation of city and county medical societies and a score of physicians who came from other cities.

Scores of strongly-built bridges like this throughout the flood districts were carried away by the raging torrents

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. Scores of strongly-built bridges like this throughout the flood districts were carried away by the raging torrents

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When the waters of the Hudson overflowed, hundreds of men, women and children were trapped in their homes near the river bank and were rescued with difficulty

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. When the waters of the Hudson overflowed, hundreds of men, women and children were trapped in their homes near the river bank and were rescued with difficulty

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Twelve bodies were recovered in a single house in the southern part of Peru on Friday. This was taken to indicate that the loss of life in that section of the city was great, as it was there that dwellings were completely submerged before the occupants could vacate.

"It is impossible to tell how many lives were lost at Peru," said one of the rescuers.

Six survivors were suffocated in the overcrowded court house. The weather had turned severely cold, adding to the misery of the unsheltered, but the flood was falling rapidly.

Terrible conditions prevailed among the refugees, who were increasing in numbers, as the waters receded. Sanitary conditions among the hundreds sheltered in the court house became so bad that boats removed many of them to other places.


The water was rushing back as fast as it came, leaving a coat of mud and slime. It was from this that the great danger of disease existed. The state board of health combined with the Peru board to help clean up.

Relief workers and city officials joined to investigate statements concerning exorbitant prices for foodstuffs, and proposed to expose every merchant attempting to make money through the misfortunes of others.202

Several looters were arrested and others shot. One robber was shot by a citizen, who threw the body into the river.

The work of rescue was greatly impeded by the selfishness of residents. An Indian of the Wallace circus secured a boat and charged people $200 before he would help them off. Instances were told of men who drew revolvers on the men and boys working in the boats, threatening to shoot if they did not take them in.


Railroad officials and the relief committee urged refugees to accept the hospitality of the municipalities north. They hoped to be relieved of temporary care of 3,000 persons by sending them out of the city.

Two railroads were bringing plenty of provisions within a half mile of the city, but the boats could not transport rapidly enough to the center where the supplies were being distributed.


Systematic search for the dead was made, and the appalling early reports of hundreds of dead continued to shrink, although it was believed that the search would probably reveal more. The diminution was due to the discovery in the hills on the other side of the Wabash River of hundreds of persons who had been given up as dead.

The streets were strewn with dead animals that had begun to decay in some sections. An epidemic was feared. One of the greatest obstacles which the people faced was that of ridding203 the city of the dead animals and filth in the low sections around the edge of the city proper into which disease-breeding filth had been washed.

Water still covered these low sections, and seemed likely to remain there for a long time. There were few sections around the valley that could be used for burning dead animals.

Citizens and officials who were becoming alarmed at the new danger estimated that at least 500 dead animals were strewn about the city of Peru alone. Most of them had to be fished out of the water wherever found, and it seemed an impossible task.


Slowly the city began to shake off despair and repair the damage done. The property damage totaled $3,000,000. The Broadway bridge went down when a large house lodged against it and in turn carried away the Union Traction structure.

As Peru emerged from the flood it became apparent that the death list probably would not run over twenty-five.

The indirect death list as a result of the flood, however, went much higher, as scores of aged men and women, who for hours were forced to undergo terrible exposure and later to endure unsanitary conditions, perished soon after they were rescued.



The Death-Dealing Tornado at Omaha


Easter Sunday did not dawn very brightly in Omaha, but in the afternoon the sun came out warm and bright. The usual Easter promenaders thronged the streets in holiday attire. Then, as the afternoon wore on, clouds appeared in the sky. They gathered very quickly, came lower, and as they approached the earth there was suddenly a fall in the temperature. In a few minutes the sky turned black and then came the bolt of wind down out of the blackness. Through more than three miles of the city it cut a clean path of from three to seven blocks in width in which not a building was left whole. Then the storm mounted the bluffs and sped away to the northeast, carrying destruction with it.

Omaha's destruction was kept secret from the world for several hours by the storm, for all wire communication was205 broken down in the wrecking of the homes. Messengers with the news stories had to go to Lincoln, the state capital, to give out first definite news of the disaster.

During the early hours of the night uninjured citizens worked desperately to remove such persons as had been caught beneath razed buildings. No great number was killed in any one place. The wind swept along, taking its toll here and there.

No sooner had the great wind passed than a second violent gale swept over much the same territory, but with lessened fury. The total number of dead in Omaha and suburbs amounted to 154; the number of homeless to 3,179.

Fire started in the debris of many wrecked buildings in the Nebraska metropolis, and these were menaces for some time, as the fire companies were hindered by fallen walls and blockaded streets. A heavy rain followed the wind, however, and whilst it drenched the hundreds of homeless persons, it also put out the flames.


Rescue work started as soon as the people were able to hurry to the stricken district, but the night's work was by the light of lanterns and little was accomplished. The storm took down all the wires in its path and the electric power was shut off immediately to prevent further loss of life. All night the stricken section was patrolled by government troops from Fort Omaha.

With the arrival of daylight, a train-load of militia from206 Lincoln and the presence in the city of Governor Morehead, the work was systematized.



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The hospitals in Omaha Sunday night were full of injured, many of whom had not been identified, apparently because their friends were either dead or among the injured.


Immediately City Commissioners appropriated $25,000 for relief work; citizens present at the meeting organized and donated $25,000 more. The Citizens' Relief Committee was organized, composed of fifty citizens and an executive committee of seven to work with the seven city councilmen.

Governor Morehead notified Mayor Dahlman that he would send a special message to the Legislature asking for207 the appropriation of sufficient funds to care for the homeless throughout the state.

Cots were placed in the Auditorium, and those without shelter were housed here. The city purchasing agent arranged for enough beds to care for all those who could sleep in the Auditorium. The Elks' rooms were thrown open to the homeless and the Union Gospel Mission provided seventy-five men with beds.


The storm appeared to have started at Fifty-fourth and Center Streets. From there it traveled north, veering slightly to the east, to Leavenworth Street. Then it took a northeasterly course to Fortieth and Farnam Streets, sweeping its way through everything. Still traveling a little east of north, it covered a course from Fortieth Street east to Thirty-fourth Street, six blocks.

Striking Bemis Park, where the homes of the wealthy Omaha residents were located, the storm turned sharply to the east and passed along Parker and Blonde Streets, to Twenty-fourth Street, where its path was six blocks wide. In the latter section the damage was complete.

Finally, at Fourteenth and Spencer Streets, the storm swept over the bluffs, high above the Missouri River, demolished the Missouri Pacific roundhouse, leveled the big trestle of the Illinois Central Railroad over Carter Lake, wrecked several buildings near the Rod and Gun Club, a fashionable outing place, and disappeared to the northeast.208

The Child Saving Institute was a veritable death house after the storm had spent its fury. Every available room was pressed into service, and one after another the dead and injured were brought into the house.


At the home of Patrick Hynes, a party in celebration of his eighty-first birthday was in progress. The guests had just begun dinner and were drinking a toast to the health of their host when the storm swept the house away. All the party succeeded in getting out with minor injuries, except a grandchild, who was internally injured.

"The party had just begun dinner," said Mr. Hynes. "The young people were making merry and, old as I am, I had entered into the spirit. Suddenly there was a roaring sound. The next minute the house was in ruins. I wiggled around and out and aided the others in escaping."


Cliff Daniels, his wife and their two children met death together. When soldiers, digging about the ruins of their home, found the four bodies, the two little girls were clasped in the arms of their mother, while the body of the father was over them, as if he had tried to shield them with his own body.

When C. Saber discovered the crushed and almost unrecognizable body of his wife he fled down the street shrieking at the top of his voice.209

E. H. Smith, a private of the Signal Corps from Fort Omaha, became insane after helping carry several bodies, and collapsed. When he had regained consciousness it was necessary to take him to the post hospital, where he was placed under restraint.

A. L. Green was on his back porch watching the storm when it broke. He said:

"It came like a rushing and roaring torrent of water and passed right by us to the east. I went to my attic window immediately afterward and saw fires bursting forth from houses along the path of the storm. I could see five fires burning at once. The flames made a ghastly sight as they illuminated acres of razed buildings nearby."


Among the freak tragedies of the tornado none is more remarkable than that at the Idlewild pool hall, Twenty-fourth and Lake Streets. Twenty-five negroes were killed. The story is told by the single survivor, John Brown, who was dug from the wreckage twelve hours after the demolition of the building.

"Eight men were playing pool at one table," Brown says. "The rest of us were standing about watching. Without a moment's warning a terrific roar swept down through the room. The roof suddenly was lifted from above. The pool table shot straight upward, many feet into the air.

"All of us still were unhurt."

Insane with fear, but wondering, the negroes rushed beneath210 the open roof and gazed upward. Then the heavy pool table and pieces of the roof shot down. All were caught. Brown was dug from the wreckage twelve hours later, uninjured.


Huddled with his family in the basement of his home at 3229 Cuming Street, Prof. E. W. Hunt saw the house split asunder. When he recovered consciousness beneath the wreckage he discovered that a last summer straw hat was cocked on the back of his head. It had been hanging in a bedroom closet three stories above before the tornado struck the house.

The body of a girl about four was dropped into the arms of a pedestrian, Charles Allen, at Forty-fifth and Center Streets. Efforts to identify the child failed.

In a field half a mile from their home were found the bodies of Mrs. Mary Rathkey and her two grown sons, Frank and James. All three were dead but no bruises were found. The wind had cut their clothing completely away.

Mrs. F. Bryant, ninety-two, lived with her son, Dr. D. C. Bryant, at 3006 Sherman Avenue. She was in bed on the third floor of the house when the tornado struck. The three floors beneath her were shifted out and her bed fell to the basement. Except for the shock she was uninjured. Dr. Bryant and his wife were dropped to the basement from the ground floor. They, too, miraculously escaped injury.211


Perhaps the most vivid single description of the tornado's havoc was given by John Porter:

"I stood on the rear porch of my home when the great cloud of the storm began its race across the city," he said. "Before it rushed the traditional 'ball of fire,' which was in reality a yellow cloud, spherical in shape.

"My wife was visiting at the moment in the home of her father. I saw the house caught in the vortex of the cloud. It rose straight up into the air, its walls shattered and broken, but holding partially together. I am sure that I could not have moved an eyelash, if my life had depended upon the exertion.

"From the risen house I saw a myriad of black specks falling to the earth. Then I watched that home soar upward. It hurtled five blocks through the murky twilight, sustained at a height of one hundred and fifty feet.

"The Sacred Heart Convent was the target at which it was hurled. It struck the fifth story. The convent was demolished. The home of my father-in-law became splinters.

"Then I recovered my senses partially, and ran to the site of the structure. God himself must have directed that storm, for my wife, her father and her mother had been dropped behind, only bruised."



Struggles of Stricken Omaha


As if the storm of Easter Sunday were not enough calamity, a blizzard-like storm descended upon the city of Omaha on Tuesday, adding to the grief and horror. The storm, which began shortly after midnight, and continued with gathering force, seriously hampered the work of rescue. More than three inches of snow covered the debris in the section of the city struck by the cyclone. It rendered uninhabitable the houses of many who had prepared to retain temporary homes in partly demolished structures.

Women tugging at heavy beams, hoping against hope to find dear ones beneath the wreckage, men gruffly cheering their sorrowful mates, sniveling children wrapped about with shawls and blankets were the scenes which the sunrise this morning disclosed to the federal soldiers as they patrolled the afflicted district.

Later, city officials gathered within the lines drawn around213 the district by the soldiers and distributed clothing and other necessities among the sufferers who had been rendered homeless by the tornado.


For the first time the people began to count the cost in lives and dollars. When a resumé was made it was apparently more appalling than those who had studied the result were willing to admit.

One hundred and fifty-four lives were snuffed out within the city proper. Nearly five hundred were injured and eight of these died in local hospitals during the day.

All Omaha rallied to the assistance of the desolate victims of the tornado. Hundreds of citizens responded promptly by offering their homes and money to aid in caring for the stricken.

The City Commissioners appropriated $75,000 for relief work, and citizens at once subscribed to an equal amount. Governor Morehead sent a special message to the Legislature asking for an appropriation to care for the homeless throughout the state.


After making an inspection of the devastated district, the Governor said:

"This is my conception of hell. It is horrible, and it has presented a most complex situation. The loss of life and damage to property is the greatest conceivable blow, not only to Omaha, but to the entire state of Nebraska. I will214 call upon the state of Nebraska to render every assistance and I am sure the state will respond.

"My horror and grief are beyond my powers of expression."


Groups of men, aided and encouraged by women and children, labored incessantly all day Tuesday among the ruins of homes and other buildings. Only portions of the ruins of some buildings within which persons were known to have been killed were removed. As quickly as bodies were found they were taken to temporary morgues. Relatives claimed most of the bodies, but some remained unidentified. Funerals and burials were held from all churches and homes. Cemeteries were thronged with grieving friends and relatives.


Military law was strictly enforced throughout the storm area. Upon the soldiers rested the responsibility for looting and fires. The city Health Department made every effort to place the district in a sanitary condition as rapidly as possible. Garbage wagons and trash carts were the only vehicles admitted within the patrolled section. The water supply fortunately remained unimpaired.


Another period of unseasonable cold followed Tuesday's snowstorm and increased the already long list of sufferers from the storm.215

Paying last rites occupied the time of thousands of persons on Wednesday. Fifty-two funerals silently wending their way to cemeteries brought home with greater force to the people of Omaha the full realization of the extent of Sunday's tornado. All day long, as fast as hearses could deposit the bodies at graves, a continual death procession was kept up.

Many of the bodies recovered from Sunday's storm were cared for at undertaking establishments, and a great number of the funerals were held from those places. Whenever possible friends of stricken families took care of bodies and had them prepared for burial. In many instances churches were demolished in the districts covered by the storm and others were so badly wrecked as to prevent their being used for burial services.


There was little ceremony. As quickly as one funeral was over another began. Undertakers co-operated in arranging burials. In several instances where entire families were killed or where more than one member of a family awaited burial one funeral service was held. The funerals were a constant procession.

One of the most pitiful of the funerals was that of Mrs. Mary Rathkey and two small children. Surviving Mrs. Rathkey is the husband and father, who is nearly demented over the disaster. Mrs. Rathkey and her children were killed in their home.216


Many cases of destitution were reported on Wednesday. It took much time to prepare card indexes of sufferers' wants and to make requisitions on the central relief station at the Auditorium for supplies. While these formalities were being carried out want stalked through disconsolate homes from one corner of the city to the other. The task of caring for those needing food, clothing, supplies and money seemed to be too large for the relief forces.


As early as Tuesday plans for rebuilding the city were under way. The business men formed a corporation to conduct the undertaking in a systematic way, and to assist the unfortunates who lost their homes and personal effects.

The Real Estate Exchange immediately took steps to prevent the raising of rents. Cases of alleged attempted extortion, however, were reported, some of them by members of the Exchange itself. Executives of that body decided to deal harshly with any owners found taking advantage of those forced to secure new homes on account of the tornado.

A public appeal sent out by the Commercial Club stated that 642 homes were totally wrecked, 1,669 were damaged and 3,179 persons made homeless. There was need of reconstruction, indeed!

This scene shows the desolation caused by the tornado wrecking a whole street of houses at Omaha, Nebraska

Photograph by Brown Bros. This scene shows the desolation caused by the tornado wrecking a whole street of houses at Omaha, Nebraska

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A view showing the destructive force of the tornado at Omaha, where happy homes stood a few hours before. Many residents were caught as in a trap and instantly killed or fatally maimed

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. A view showing the destructive force of the tornado at Omaha, where happy homes stood a few hours before. Many residents were caught as in a trap and instantly killed or fatally maimed

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Omaha: "The Gate City of the West"


Omaha, "the Gate City," largest in Nebraska, is a typical plains town, proud of its industry and its climb on the census list. It stands eighty feet above the Missouri on the west bank of that river opposite Council Bluffs, Iowa. For twenty-four square miles stretch its many churches, educational institutions and large manufacturing plants, with the pleasant residential section lying above.

On the site of the present city Lewis and Clark in 1804 held council with the Indians. There were a trading station and stockade at the place in 1825 presided over by pioneer J. B. Royce. The first permanent settlement was made there in 1854. A tribe of Dakota Indians that lived in the region gave the city its name.

When the Union Pacific Railroad was stretching steel hands westward in 1864 Omaha was the most northerly outfitting point for overland wagon trains to the far West.218 At that time it took its name of "Gate City" and then its sudden growth began. In 1910 the population was 124,000.


Because of its location it soon began to draw industries. Packing is one of its leading industries today. So extensive is this business that Omaha ranks third among cities of the United States in packing. Silver smelting, distilling and brewing are some of the other pursuits that keep its citizens busy.


Among the more important buildings are the Federal Building, Court House, a city hall, two high schools, one of which is among the finest in the country, a convention hall, the Auditorium and the Public Library. Omaha is the see of Roman Catholic and Protestant Episcopal bishoprics. Among the educational institutions are a state school for the deaf; the medical department and orthopedic branch of the University of Nebraska; a Presbyterian Theological Seminary; and Creighton University under Jesuit control. The principal newspapers are the Omaha Bee, World-Herald and the News. The Omaha Bee was established in 1871 by Edward Rosewater, who made it one of the most influential Republican journals in the West. The World-Herald, founded in 1865 by George L. Miller, was edited by William Jennings Bryan from 1894 to 1896.

Omaha is the headquarters of the United States military department of the Missouri, and there are military posts219 at Fort Omaha, immediately north, and Fort Crook, ten miles south of the city.


Prairie freighting and Missouri river navigation, were of importance before the construction of the Union Pacific railway, and the activity of the city in securing the freighting interest gave her an initial start over the other cities of the state. Council Bluffs was the legal, but Omaha the practical, eastern terminus of that great undertaking, work on which began at Omaha in December, 1863. The city was already connected as early as 1863 by telegraph with Chicago, St. Louis, and since 1861 with San Francisco. Lines of the present great Rock Island, Burlington and Northwestern railway systems all entered the city in the years 1867-1868. Meat-packing began as early as 1871, but its first great advance followed the removal of the Union stock-yards south of the city in 1884. South Omaha was rapidly built up around them. A Trans-Mississippi Exposition illustrating the progress and resources of the states west of the Mississippi was held at Omaha in 1898. It represented an investment of $2,000,000, and in spite of financial depression and wartime, ninety per cent of their subscriptions were returned in dividends to the stockholders.

The original town site occupied an elongated and elevated river terrace, now given over wholly to business; behind this are hills and bluffs over which the residential districts have extended.



Other Damage From the Nebraska Tornado


The storm which lashed its way through Omaha on Easter Sunday had already carried havoc into other Nebraska towns. William Coon, president of an automobile company of Lincoln, Nebraska, gave a stirring description of the tornado as he saw it from the platform of an observation car on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad:


"For miles," he said, "it seemed as if the train were being pursued by the storm. We were approaching Ralston, Neb., when I first noticed the strange cloud mounting the sky. Before that it had been clear."

Mr. Coon, from his observation car seat, saw the storm strike Ralston. "The passengers sat as if glued to their seats when the cloud struck," he said.

"The engineer brought the engine to a stop and the passengers221 ran over to the wreckage of the houses. We could hear the groans of dying men and the wails and shrieks of injured women and children. I entered a house, or rather what had been a house, and beneath me lay a woman. I looked and I knew that she was dead. We got all of the injured out of the ruins and brought them to the train.

"We were about to leave when our attention was called to a little house some distance from the others. It had been wrecked and moved from its foundation, but we found a mother and her little baby lying upon a bed uninjured.

"The cloud wheeled and made towards South Omaha. We were not far behind, but our way was blocked by the debris the tornado had thrown on the tracks. Then, too, we stopped frequently to pick up the injured. There were some with their limbs torn off and all were cut and bleeding."

A Chicagoan, who withheld his name, told of the scenes at Omaha when the train stopped there. He said:

"I was just recovering from what I had seen on the train when we pulled into Omaha with the injured. It was night then, but such a night. The sky was lighted with a red glare, and the streets were filled with people who acted as though they were mad. Frequently the cries of the wounded, unloaded at the station, were drowned by terrific peals of thunder."

It is difficult for any one who has not lived through a tornado to have any conception of what such a storm can do. Tornadic force means anything more than one hundred miles an hour. There have been instances where tornadoes have222 shaved off the stone sides of buildings as if they had been sliced away by a stonecutter. Forecaster Scarr, of New York, said that the tornado that wrought destruction in Nebraska may have been of the resistless kind that simply ground stone and brick to dust and carried up its electrified funnel the remnants of every building it struck. The tornado finally became almost like a mass of whirling steel, revolving faster than the blades of the swiftest planer and cutting everything to pieces in its course.


The tornado first struck the little village of Yutan, southwest of Omaha. Yutan was practically wiped off the map and its population of four hundred left desolate. After the buildings had been razed the wreckage caught fire. "The town is burning! We'll all be killed!" some kept crying, and this added to the fears of the others. Many persons were killed and many injured. Waterloo, a village of about equal size to the northeast across the Platte River, suffered like damage. Wires were snapped off in all directions, and it took many hours to gather and circulate news of the disaster.

Leaving desolation behind it the tornado swept at a rate of possibly one hundred and fifty miles an hour into Berlin. This little village had a population of about two hundred. The storm killed seven and injured thirty. The habitations were virtually wiped out. A church, an elevator and part of the residence of State Senator Buck were all that remained standing of what was a prosperous town.223


On its way to Omaha the tornado struck Benson and Yutan. Benson is a thriving town of over three thousand. Here property damage was great and many persons were injured. As the houses began to tumble a little girl dressed in white started from one of the houses and ran down the street with her hands above her head. Just then the side of a house came soaring through the air, and shooting suddenly downward it struck the child and buried her beneath it. When the storm had passed, the injured were lying all about the streets.

At Ralston, a suburb of Omaha, many were killed and much injury and destruction left in the path of the tornado. Late in the afternoon a copper-colored cloud was seen mounting toward the sky. The cloud grew rapidly and was traveling at tremendous speed. It assumed the form of a funnel and the air was filled with a curious, piercing noise. It swished across the railroad track and swept on its way toward the little town.

Then the storm struck the town. Houses collapsed as though they were of paper. The roofs went sailing away and the sides fell in. Passengers in a passing train watched the destruction, and a cry of horror went up from every one. It was an awful sight.

A farmer was standing on the doorstep when he noticed the funnel-shaped cloud. He called his wife and four children, and they all sought refuge in a cyclone cellar. Five minutes later their house went sailing away.224


Edward Mote, his wife and three children were sitting in their home chatting when the tornado suddenly carried them and their home to Paio Creek, one hundred yards away, and dropped them into the water. Mrs. Mote was drowned.

Postmaster D. L. Ham, his daughter, Mrs. Kimball, and his grandchildren were standing in the doorway of their home when the wind struck. Mrs. Kimball and her two-year-old daughter Frances stepped outside the door, which slammed shut. Their bodies were found among the debris. H. E. Said and wife, bride and bridegroom of a month, were in the Ham house. Warned of approaching death by Mr. Ham, they sought solace in each other's arms. Thus they were found dead. Mr. Ham was slightly injured.


There was a big threshing machine standing near one of the houses, and when the cloud struck it shot straight up into the air and was carried about forty rods. Houses were rolling and tumbling along the ground. A box car was carried along by the terrific air current for a quarter of a mile. When it split open six or seven men, who turned out to be part of a repair gang, dropped out. Some lay very still, while others feebly crawled about.

A dozen other towns in the section of Nebraska surrounding Omaha were hard hit and many farming communities were destroyed.



The Tornado in Iowa and Illinois


The monster tornado that wrought such havoc in Omaha leaped across the Missouri River and swished its wicked tail through Council Bluffs. Then it sped northeasterly, wrecking several villages before it finally disappeared.


Reports from Mills County stated that it caused loss of life in every town in the county reached by telephone. Many deaths occurred at Glenwood and at Council Bluffs. Scattering towns all through the district reported one to two deaths.

Eastern Council Bluffs suffered heavily, the storm breaking in the valley just east of the town proper and following the lines of the Milwaukee, Rock Island and Great Western railroads for a distance of a mile.

The storm, which was accompanied by hail, rain, sleet, lightning and a gale which blew seventy miles an hour for226 a time, was felt most severely in the northwestern section of the city, where houses were overturned, windows broken, trees uprooted and electric light and trolley poles blown to the ground. Nearly fifty small fires resulted and hundreds of men, women and children fled from their homes in terror.

Considerable damage was done to Des Plaines, Park Ridge and other suburbs. The property damage in the city and suburbs was estimated at more than $500,000.


Illinois also suffered severely from a tornado on the night of Easter, March 23d, and the following morning. The storm was less severe than that which struck Omaha, but the wind was blowing at a rate of seventy miles an hour for a time, and in Chicago alone thirty-two structures were damaged and a number of persons killed. Out in the state the heaviest suffering was at Rockford, Elgin, Wheaton, Bloomington, Galesburg, Peoria, Erie and Des Plaines. The aggregate loss in other communities was great.

The storm covered all of Illinois north of Peoria. In Galesburg many buildings were moved from their foundations. Half a dozen residences in Peoria were demolished. All streams rose high and costly floods occurred along the Kankakee, Illinois and other rivers.


In Chicago all the elements seemed to meet Sunday night. The wind blew a violent gale; snow flew before it in some227 places; hail crashed windows in other parts of the city. Every available fire apparatus in the north and west sides of the city was called out to extinguish fires which broke out in business blocks and dwellings partly wrecked by the storm.

A number of lives throughout the state were lost by this storm and the property loss was estimated at $2,500,000.

A second storm on Monday caused great destruction in Mahanda. Thirty cars of a southbound Illinois Central freight train were blown from the track a mile north of the town. Two firemen were injured.



The Tornado in Kansas and Arkansas


Following a heavy downpour of rain on Easter Sunday night the atmosphere at Topeka, Kansas, was filled with dust until it had the appearance of a heavy fog. The dust came from the western part of the state where severe dust storms prevailed.

In western Kansas the "blowout" has been as great a source of damage to the wheat fields as the drought or chinch bugs or hot winds. In the event of a drought there is always some hope of rain; with the hot winds there is hope of a cool spell; while the ravages of the chinch bugs may be checked in two or three ways.

With the "blowout" there absolutely is no hope left, and not only is the wheat crop gone for good, but the ground sometimes is left in bad condition. The "blowout" is little understood by any one except the person who has witnessed a dust storm. Several years ago the "blowout" was much more common than now, although there is some damage in western counties every year from this source.229


The damage comes not only to the fields that have been blown out, but the adjoining fields, on to which the "drifting soil" has blown in great clouds and settled, have suffered likewise, and whole pastures have been known to be destroyed by the same means. For several years the farmers have been working night and day to devise some method to prevent the damage from "drifting soil," or "blowouts," as they are more commonly known.

Senator Malone has introduced in the Kansas Legislature a bill providing that the county commissioners of any county where a "blowout" has commenced may call in agricultural experts and devise ways of stopping the drifting. The farmers of Thomas County held a meeting in Colby recently to discuss the situation and if possible arrive at some means by which the drifting of soil might be stopped from destroying the crops.

These farmers reported that a strip of land between Colby and Rexford, about fifteen miles long and five miles wide, was blown out last season and in that territory not a single root of vegetation remained, and the top of the ground was as hard as the pavement on any street in Kansas City. The ground as far down as the plough went was completely blown away. When these fields were blown out the wheat was several inches high and before the wind came up the prospects were bright for a good crop. It took but a few hours for the wind to complete its work of destruction. The little town of Gem sits in about the center of the devastated land.230


A dust storm is not only unfortunate, but it is unpleasant in the extreme. It comes up sometimes very suddenly. The sun may be shining and not a cloud in sight. In less than five minutes the sun will be obscured from view and the air filled with dust, sand, gravel, sticks and other debris.

Besides suffering from a dust storm, Kansas was stricken by floods due to heavy rain in some parts of the state. Hail and lightning accompanied the rain and did much damage.


A tornado on Monday night, March 24th, eight miles southwest of Leslie, Arkansas, killed Mrs. John Couders and seriously injured John Couders and his son William, and James Trieste, his wife and three children.

A tornado that passed over Clarksville, Arkansas, on Tuesday, killed Miss Ida Brazell and blew down many houses. At Rumeley five were killed and several injured. Couriers immediately sought aid, carrying news of great suffering in the mountains.

Their tales were heart-moving. Lack of insurance, lack of funds and lack of knowledge of what to do when overtaken by calamity made the situation in small towns and in out-of-the-way places more pathetic than that of the unhappy homeless in some of the large cities affected by the tornado or the flood. To the latter relief was immediately sent—from neighboring places, from the whole country. The others, suffering no less, did not always even succeed in being heard.



The Tornado in Indiana


The record of disaster by tornado was greater in Terre Haute than in any other place except Omaha. For two weeks before Easter a dense atmosphere hung over the city, which occasional heavy rainfalls did not clear. Then suddenly on Sunday night, about ten o'clock, the lightning flashed and loud peals of thunder followed.

The tornado seemed to spring out of the southwestern part of the city as if it came from the swollen waters of the Wabash River. It first smashed into Gardentown, a suburb of the city, where a great many working people live, and every building in its path crumpled down before it. The lightning sped over building after building, setting many of them on fire. Parts of the Root Glass Company's plant were flattened. The end of the foundry room of the Gartland232 Factory, a solid brick wall eight inches thick, was caved in. Brick and stone structures suffered alike.


In the streets were tangled masses of twisted electric wires spluttering out warnings of death for those who, careless of the first alarm, had rushed in to rescue those who had been buried under roofs and walls. Policemen, firemen and a host of volunteers struggled through the debris, sidestepping the live wires that had been torn from their fastenings.

The heavy downpour of rain extinguished many fires, and the city of Terre Haute was thereby saved from destruction by fire. The large Greenwood public school was shattered and torn. The tornado, like a huge auger, bored into the roof and tore the shingles and rafters away and every window was hurled from its casing. This building was later converted into a hospital and morgue.


In many instances death came to those who were asleep in their beds when their homes collapsed about them. In other cases the bodies were picked up as if by giant hands and hurled either to death or to terrible injury. Some were thrown more than a hundred feet.

Above the roar of the wind and the rattle of the rain could be heard the screams of frantic women and children. The scenes were pitiful. Men and women were looking for loved ones, and when a torn and mangled form was taken from the debris, a woman's shriek would tell the story of a lost one found.

Hundreds of buildings were demolished by the tornado at Terre Haute, Indiana, and many lives were lost

Copyright by George Grantham Bain. Hundreds of buildings were demolished by the tornado at Terre Haute, Indiana, and many lives were lost

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Scenes such as this could be duplicated hundreds of times to illustrate the demoniacal power of the tornado that laid waste the cities and towns through which it passed

Photograph by Brown Bros. Scenes such as this could be duplicated hundreds of times to illustrate the demoniacal power of the tornado that laid waste the cities and towns through which it passed

link to high-resolution image



Charles Chadwick, a six-year-old boy, owed his escape to the fact that he left home, in the absence of his parents, to go to a moving-picture show. He was found walking along South Fifth Street after the storm, but his home could not be found as it had been blown away.

Seven houses owned by Fred Housman, including the one234 he lived in, on the Lockport road, were swept away completely. Five wrecked autos were found on that road.

Between Hulman and Voorhees Streets, in South Eighth, there was complete devastation. Twenty-five houses were leveled to the ground in this stretch.

On the Lockport road, south of Idaho, at least sixteen houses were destroyed, but there were no fatalities and few were injured in this immediate neighborhood.


Mrs. Flora Wood was hurled seven feet from her home, her small baby clasped in her arms. They were cared for at the Third United Brethren Church.

The day-old baby of Mrs. Leonard Sloan was found in one corner of the bedroom of their home, while the mother lay in another corner. The entire top of the house had been blown away.

William Rogers, Superintendent of the United Brethren Sunday-school, was buried beneath the walls of his home. He died while being carried to the school house.

A large stone boarding house conducted by Mrs. Catherine Louden was wrecked and the aged woman and her son, Ralph Louden, were badly injured.

Many houses were wrecked between Third and Fifth Streets in Voorhees Street.


A freight car was pressed into service as a temporary medical quarter, when the fire wagons with the police and235 fire departments arrived on the scene. The live wires and burning debris made it impossible for the ambulances to get within two blocks of the scene, and the bodies had to be carried to safety by the rescuers.

Six fires broke out in different parts of the devastated district, while the rescue work was being carried on. The strong winds still blowing fanned the flames and drove the rescuers from their work.


Fred King, a glass blower at 2146 Dilman Street, was found with his wife and baby covered by the heavy timbers of their home that had collapsed when the storm struck it. King had been hurled from his bed a distance of ten feet. Two heavy timbers had almost crushed the life out of him. His wife was terribly injured. A few feet away the baby was picked up dead. The mother in her death struggles probably tried to save the baby by throwing it away from her.

Near the Greenwood school several more were killed and many were injured. Mrs. E. J. Edwards, wife of a druggist, was knocked down by a heavy timber that broke her leg and pinned her to the ground. When she was found the woman was screaming for her child, and later the little fellow, eight years old, was picked up dead and carried to the Greenwood school building.

Remarkable escapes were made in the twenty-four hundred block on South Third Street, some of the residents of236 the square being seriously injured. Mr. and Mrs. George Carmichael escaped from their home as it was blown away by the wind.

Many families were separated in the excitement and for two hours after the storm had passed anxious husbands, mothers and children were searching the debris for absent members of their families. Many could not find the wrecked remains of their homes, so hopelessly tangled was the wreckage in the streets and on the sidewalks, and in several cases it was difficult even to find the place where the home had stood.


Ambulances and moving vans were used to carry the injured to hospitals and as these were soon filled stables and homes were converted into temporary hospitals. More than two hundred persons were placed under the care of doctors, but many were only slightly hurt and in some cases women were found to be suffering merely from fright. These were soon dismissed to make room for those actually suffering.

The scenes at the hospitals were pitiful. The agony of the sufferers was increased by the uncertainty as to the fate and condition of their families and friends.

Little children, lying in bandages about the hospital, cried out in pain and fright. One little fellow with a big gash over his eye cried out for his mother as he was being taken to the operating room. His father sat near him and tried to lend what comfort was possible. A little girl in one of the large237 rooms of the hospital played and laughed on her bed while three anxious physicians worked with her sister, who had sustained a compound fracture of the leg and a dislocated shoulder.


Friends and relatives of people living in the storm devastated region soon crowded the halls of the hospitals, anxiously inquiring if those dear to them were among the victims. Many learned of the whereabouts of relatives or friends in the rooms of the hospital and crowded in to see them when this was possible, expressing joy that they had escaped from death beneath the falling walls and timbers of their homes. One man, when lifted on the operating table, was found to be dead.


The rescue work was carried on rapidly, and Monday night all the homeless were cared for by charitable institutions and citizens, while the more seriously injured were carried to places where they could receive medical attention. In many cases private homes were turned into temporary hospitals.

The scenes in the wrecked sections in Terre Haute brought tears to the eyes of the rescuers, whose attention often was called to the dying, trapped in the debris of their homes, by agonizing screams for aid. Some died before they could be freed from wreckage and others who were removed died afterward.238


A company of the Indiana National Guard was placed on duty in the devastated district early Monday morning while the work of searching the ruins for dead was still in progress. Over the entire area were scattered all kinds of household furniture, wearing apparel, beds and bedding.

Looting began within a few moments and the police were at first too busy caring for the injured and removing the dead from the debris to protect property, but the members of the National Guard soon established an efficient patrol and the looters were not in evidence afterward.


The tornado which visited Terre Haute also struck Perth, in the northern part of Clay County, about ten o'clock and then vanished in the air. No lives were lost there and only one person was injured.

Nearly every building in the little town of 400 population was wrecked or damaged. A brick store building, five two-story houses and seven cottages, the Congregational church, a school house, a three-story structure, barns and outhouses were completely demolished.



The Tornado in Pennsylvania


The disturbances in the atmosphere which wrought such havoc in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana were also at work in Pennsylvania. Altoona, Williamsport, Marietta, Columbia and Scranton were among the towns suffering the greatest damage. The flood situation throughout the Keystone State will be treated in a later chapter.


The storm struck Altoona on Tuesday, March 25th. With a crash that alarmed the entire neighborhood, eighty feet of the 162-foot steel stack at the Pennsylvania Central Light and Power Company's plant was blown down. The wind tore madly through the city and the rain fell in torrents. Many houses were unroofed and a number of smaller buildings were entirely demolished. No one was injured, but damage to the extent of at least $2,000 was reported.240


A heavy wind and rainstorm swept through Williamsport on the same afternoon, following a few hours of clear weather that came in the wake of twenty-four hours' rain. It unroofed a number of houses in the west end of the city, blew away the roofs of several cars in the Newberry Junction railroad yards, partially demolished a car inspector's office, sent twenty men in a panic from the second story of the New York Central offices, which they feared would be blown to pieces; blew in the front of a store on Grove Street and scattered canned goods for a block down the street and swept a path through a grove in the same section, prostrating a dozen giant oaks.

Train service through Williamsport was seriously deranged all day Tuesday. A landslide that covered both tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad for sixty feet, with a mass of mud five feet deep, three miles east of Renovo, completely upset the train schedule on the Susquehanna Division.

The slide occurred about seven o'clock in the morning, and it was not until eleven o'clock that the eastbound track was opened and passenger trains were let through. The westbound track was not cleared until the morning. While the blockade existed special trains were run from Williamsport.


A terrific wind storm from the northwest swept through Shamokin Valley and Shamokin, followed by rain, which fell in torrents. This storm also occurred on Tuesday. Crops in country districts were torn up and badly damaged, while241 lowlands were flooded. Roofs on a number of barns and out-dwellings were blown away, and telephone and telegraph wires were put out of commission.


Columbia was struck by a severe electric storm accompanied by a downpour of rain on Tuesday evening. Lightning struck the local electric plant, doing considerable damage and putting the town in total darkness for the night. Many residents and storekeepers were compelled to resort to candles to help them out during the evening.


In Scranton the storm of March 25th amounted to a veritable tornado. The Round Woods section of the city suffered most. The Clemons Silk Mill, owned by D. G. Derry, of Catasauqua, was unroofed and a 150-foot section of the roof was deposited on the adjacent engine room, partially demolishing the structure. The two sixty-foot smokestacks in the rear yard fell on top of the engine house. The roof of the warping department also fell on the engine house. The back walls of the warping department fell into the yard, while the upper part of the front walls fell in. The machines were six feet from the walls. The girls crouched under their machines and escaped serious injury. Several fainted and were carried out by foremen.

Amelia Davis, a warper, was hit on the head by a brick as she hurried from the second floor. Tessie Carey, of Minooka,242 sustained a black eye and lacerations of the left side of the face by falling bricks. Gus Minnick, a repairer, working in the engine room, had just set his dinner pail where one of the stacks fell. There were altogether one hundred and fifty girls at work, but outside of bruises and scratches they were uninjured. The property damage was about $20,000. Much silk on the looms was ruined.

A large tower was blown off a school. Three houses in the neighborhood were also badly damaged by the wind. The storm caused destruction in all parts of the city and adjoining places.

Trees and fences were blown down in all parts of the city and in the adjoining country.

The storm came from the west and its approach was preceded by an inky black sky which, coupled with thoughts of the havoc of Sunday's storm in Nebraska, caused a general consternation. A heavy downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning followed the tornado.



The Freak Tornado in Alabama


Weird tales of horror and misery attended the tornado which swept over the little town of Lower Peachtree, Alabama, on Friday, March 21st, wrecking the entire village.

After the tornado had passed, corpses with hair stripped from heads and divested of every thread of clothing were picked up. Naked men and women ran screaming in the semi-darkness.

Chickens and hogs stripped of feathers and hair wandered in bewilderment among the ruins. Nailed unerringly into trees cleaned of their bark were pickets from fences that had been swept away. Where once had stood a big steamboat warehouse near the river was left the floor of the building standing upon which were the entire contents of the warehouse untouched by the terrific whirls of the wind.

In the backyard of the Bryant home, buried in debris, was a chicken coop, not a splinter awry. Within it was a goose sitting meekly upon a dozen eggs which she had not left.244

The blast wrenched an iron bed from a house and wrapped it around a tree trunk as no human hand could have done.

Crossing the river from the town it had desolated it bore away half of a soapstone bluff many feet in height and left the other half standing unmarred.

Miss Mary Watson, a visitor in the Stabler home, was crossing a hallway when the tornado struck. She was swept through the hallway and to the rear of the house, where she was blown against a tree and her back broken.


In the business neighborhood everything was swept away except two grocery stores. They were thrown open as dispensaries of free provisions.

No semblance of order could be brought from the pitiable chaos of the wrecked town until Sunday afternoon, when cool heads prevailed and the survivors and visitors who offered assistance were regularly organized into committees to attend to the needs of the sufferers.

Troops from Fort Oglethorpe, with hospital corps and supplies for the relief of the sufferers arrived Sunday night and administered to the needs of the injured and homeless.


Tributes to the bravery of Professor Griffin, a survivor of the tornado, were paid by many who visited the scene. Professor Griffin, after having been blown hundreds of feet from his home, returned bruised and bleeding to the center of the245 town and worked unceasingly to relieve the injured and to quiet survivors, insane with grief and excitement. Peter Milledge, whose wife and two children perished when their home was destroyed, went mad.


The Red Cross agent who investigated the situation at Lower Peachtree on Wednesday, March 26th, reported that sixty-eight were injured in the tornado which swept that section and that two hundred were destitute.



The Flood in New York


A tremendous downfall of rain, March 24th and 25th, developed some of the worst floods known in fifty years. Vast areas of New York were under water and hundreds of homes were swept away.

On the night of March 25th the entire area of South Buffalo was under water, street car traffic was suspended and rowboats were plying the streets.

The Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek had both overflowed their banks with a rush at ten o'clock in the morning, and the dwellers in the South Park section of the city had no chance to escape.247

Hundreds of homes were soon flooded. Firemen were sent out in boats to rescue those who desired to leave. Hundreds of workers were marooned in distant parts of the city, unable to reach their homes.

Within the city limits of Buffalo big manufacturing plants suffered $150,000 of damage. Many big oil tanks were overturned and crashed against buildings. Train service throughout the city was practically at a standstill, and miles of track east and south of the city were washed away. The main line of the Erie Railroad, between Buffalo and New York City, was washed out in many places.


Not since 1865, when Rochester, then a city of 50,000, suffered immense damage by floods, has the city faced such a serious situation as it did on the night of Friday, March 28th. Half the business section was under water, which in some sections was five feet deep.

Water commenced to pour into Front, Mill and Andrew Streets early Thursday evening, and all through the night merchants worked to get their goods to higher ground. The big warehouse of the Graves Furniture Company in Mill Street was flooded so quickly that thousands of dollars damage was done to the goods. The following morning it was impossible to get through these streets except in boats and rafts, and the work of salvage was continued in this way.

The newspaper offices of the Post Express and Democrat and the Chronicle had their basements flooded and the presses248 put out of commission. The Pennsylvania line into Rochester, which uses the bed of the old Genesee Canal, was put out of commission. The Erie and Lehigh Valley lines to villages to the south were blocked by the floods for several days.

The only fatality of the flood occurred at six o'clock Sunday evening, when a boy who was paddling over the flooded meadow of the Genesee Valley Park was carried out into the river. The canoe was swept over the dam at Court Street.


The whole valley of the Genesee was more or less paralyzed. As early as Wednesday the villages of Mount Morris and Dansville, in the Genesee River Valley, were under several feet of water, and the terrified folk who lived in the lowlands were hurrying to places of safety, abandoning their homes.

Commerce was soon at a standstill, and conditions continued to grow more serious. They were in some localities worse than at any time since 1865. The washing out of bridges and the flooding of roads practically cut the villages off from the outside world.


One thousand persons were driven from their homes at Olean by the high waters of the Canisteo and Hornell. John Cook was drowned while attempting to rescue others.

Four oil tanks were floating about the city of Olean, and the coating of oil on the water made the danger from fire serious. The water was from three to ten feet deep.

Showing what was once the town of Lower Peachtree. The six X's denote the places where houses stood before the tornado, in the heart of the main residential streets

Copyright by Underwood & Underwood, N. Y. Showing what was once the town of Lower Peachtree. The six X's denote the places where houses stood before the tornado, in the heart of the main residential streets

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One of the victims of the tornado at Omaha was picked up by the tornado and his corpse left suspended in the broken and twisted limbs of a tree

Copyright by International News Service. One of the victims of the tornado at Omaha was picked up by the tornado and his corpse left suspended in the broken and twisted limbs of a tree

link to high-resolution image


Following thirty hours of continued rain, Hornell, a small city in Steuben County, suffered the worst flood in its history. It swept down the Canisteo Valley, completely inundating the greater portion of the city of Hornell and half a dozen villages within a radius of ten miles. A thousand homes were flooded.

The Canisteo Valley for a distance of forty miles was under water, and the situation was appalling. Roads were washed out, bridges gone and much property destroyed. The fire in every furnace in the flood district was out, and suffering was acute.


The lake region in the central western part of the state suffered heavily from floods. The villages of Marcellus, Camillus and Marietta, west of Syracuse, were threatened with extinction. The earthen bank, which adjoins the huge dam of Otisco Lake, weakened and, it was feared that if the flood conditions did not improve the bank would give way.

Auburn was seriously threatened by the rising of Owasco Lake. The dam furnishing power to the Dunn and McCarthy shoe shops broke in the center and it was feared the rest of the structure would go down. Pumps were at work continuously in the Auburn water works at Owasco Lake to keep the engine and boiler pits free of water.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad along Cayuga Lake, between Auburn and Ithaca, was under water for a distance of nine250 miles south of Kings Ferry. No trains were running on that branch. A small bridge at Farley's Point, near the lower end of Cayuga Lake, was washed away. An avalanche of mud and stones buried the railroad tracks near Kings Ferry.

The incessant rains of two days raised the little creeks in the vicinity of Interlaken to torrents. Many bridges were washed out.

Canandaigua Lake reached its highest level in sixteen years. Streets in Canandaigua were flooded.

Floods due to breaks and overflows in the Erie Canal at Waterloo, Seneca Falls, Port Bryon and elsewhere, caused thousands of dollars loss. The Seneca River was over its banks.


At Binghamton, on the Susquehanna River, water covered the entire northwestern residence section of the city. All the manufacturing establishments along the river banks were closed.

Boats were forced into use in the residence districts and the Fire Department, with three steamers, endeavored to keep down the water in the basements in the business section.


But more serious than the conditions anywhere else in New York were those along the Hudson River Valley. Damage estimated at not less than $300,000 was caused by high water near Glens Falls, resulting from heavy rains, which fell for nearly a week.251

The steel suspension bridge, two hundred feet in length, across the Hudson between the city and South Glens Falls was destroyed. All records for high water were broken, the bridge being carried out after the steel supports underneath had been constantly pounded for hours by logs dashed against them by the raging waters.

At Hadley, one of the plants of the Union Bag and Paper Company was completely flooded, and water was pouring from every window. It was feared that the structure might be destroyed. All paper mills in the section were closed down.


At Fort Edward village $50,000 damage was done. About one hundred families were driven from their homes to seek shelter in higher parts of the village. Many parts of the village were submerged and in the main business section five feet of water filled the cellars on the river side of the street. The water had reached the windows of the first stories of many houses in the lower sections. Trains of loaded coal cars were used to hold down the monster railroad bridge of the Delaware and Hudson Company at this village while big jams of logs threatened to carry it out.


At least 150 feet of the big dam of the International Paper Company at Corinth was carried out and the mill partly flooded. A small part of the same company's dam at Fort Edward was also carried out. The International was one of the heaviest losers.252


At Schenectady, just west of the Hudson on the Mohawk, houses on twenty-five streets were abandoned by their occupants. The entire lower section of the city was submerged.

The whole Mohawk Valley was swept by the worst flood in its history.

The Groff dam near Herkimer broke and several houses were carried away. A dam at Canajoharie threatened to go out. Three great canal gates at Fort Plain were swept away. The Amsterdam reservoir, which covers 680 acres, was weakened and a patrol was stationed there.


So great was the flood in Troy, on the Hudson below the entrance of the Mohawk, that martial law was practically declared. Members of two military companies patrolled the streets, relieving the tired firemen and police, many of whom had been on continuous duty for forty-eight hours. Mayor Burns did not sleep for two nights, taking charge in person of the Public Safety Department.

Fires added to the seriousness of the flood situation and firemen were kept busy all day answering alarms in the flooded district. Damage estimated at thousands of dollars was done by the fire.

For the first time in the history of Troy the newspapers, with one exception, were unable to go to press. One publication printed a four-page pamphlet on a hand press. Another was printed in Albany.253

Hundreds of families were rendered homeless, and relief stations in various parts of the city were filled with refugees. The city faced an epidemic of typhoid, and every effort was made to guard against it.


In Watervliet the water in many places measured ten feet deep and the police station and post-office were flooded. One-third of Green Island was submerged. In Rensselaer, across the river from Albany, much damage and suffering were caused.

The losses of logs in the regions to the north amounted to many thousands of dollars and the damage in the lumber district of Albany was heavy.


On March 27th the river at Albany was seventeen feet above normal and was still rising. The power plants were put out of commission, street car traffic practically suspended and schools and factories closed. The city's filtration plant was threatened. The south end of the city was under water.

Railroad service was crippled, mails delayed and telegraph and telephone service hampered. There was much damage to property, but no loss of life.

The damage in Albany was estimated at $1,000,000. Governor Sulzer was informed that about $3,500,000 will be necessary to repair the embankments along the old and the new barge canal locks and dams.



The Flood in Pennsylvania


Many dead, hundreds ill, thousands homeless, and many millions of dollars' worth of property destroyed—such was the record of the flood in the Keystone State.

By Tuesday, March 25th, railroad travel in northwestern Pennsylvania was seriously tied up on account of washouts, due to recent rains. Corry became the western terminal of the Erie Railroad, trains west of Corry being abandoned. Between Corry and Titusville were four washouts, tying up the Pennsylvania Railroad.


In Meadville the situation was even worse. Once again Mill Run and Neason's Run, combined with the floods of French and Cussewago Creeks, overflowed the city.255

With the exception of a few of the high sections, the entire city was under water, which in some sections reached to the second story of homes. Business places on lower Chestnut, Water, Market and South Main Streets and Park Avenue were submerged, water running through the main rooms of the hotels and other business places. The waters had a clear sweep of nearly half of the city, and never before had the four streams combined for such a gambol.


Throughout the Shenango Valley hundreds of families were imprisoned in their homes and frantic efforts were made to rescue the marooned persons from their dangerous positions. At Sharon the greatest flood in the history of the city was experienced. Thousands of persons were thrown out of employment and the property loss was enormous. The entire town was inundated and a dozen or more bridges were wrecked. The loss of the United States Steel Corporation at Farrel, a suburb, was estimated at $200,000.

The torrent swept swiftly upon Sharon. The crest reached a height of fifty feet. The released wall of water, gathering buildings, stacks of lumber, hundreds of logs and a mass of debris in its van as a giant battering ram, rolled like a giant hoop into the center of the thriving milling town. It followed the course of the Shenango, which bisects the city.

After the flood unsuccessfully rammed the double line of steel buildings the torrent passed further to the center of the city. One pier of a concrete bridge, erected two years before,256 which spans Silver and Porter Streets, cracked off like a matchstick. The impact carried the block of concrete, weighing several tons, for a distance of a quarter of a mile.

Fire added to the terror of the flood when Wishart's planing mill, on Railroad Street, was discovered to be in flames Tuesday afternoon. The steamers of the fire companies could not be taken close enough to pump water from the swollen Shenango. There was only one recourse—to take the supply of drinking water in the city's reservoir or permit the fire to burn and possibly jeopardize all the wooden buildings within a radius of a mile. Sharonites actually cheered the firemen as they saw their drinking water vanish.


The flood waters of the Shenango caused great distress in New Castle and near-by places. The water put the lighting plants and the city water station out of commission. Fifteen hundred homes were submerged. Thousands had to flee.


The Beaver River rose high and the entire valley from the Ohio River north was flooded. The towns of New Brighton, Fallston and Beaver Falls suffered most, and there was some damage at Rochester. Traffic on the railroads was suspended at daybreak, and not a trolley car was running in the valley.


At Warren and points all down the length of the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh, flood conditions were still more serious.257

For Warren itself the worst was feared. Hourly the flood situation grew worse. On Wednesday the water was rising at the rate of four inches an hour. The river threatened to cut a new channel through the south side of the city and scores of men were piling up sandbags to prevent this.



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Captain U. G. Lyons assumed charge of the situation, and under his direction a life raft composed of barrels was made and launched in the Allegheny River. Thanks to the raft, not one life was lost from among the many who floated down the stream on debris.258


Oil City, on Oil Creek near its entrance to the Allegheny River, was in a serious plight. Oil Creek overflowed its banks and covered the portion of town that was devastated by the great fire and flood of 1892.

The town was in a condition bordering on panic and business was suspended. More than seventy-five persons were removed from their homes in wagons, the water being from five to six feet deep. Railroads suffered heavily.

Newspapers and industrial plants at Oil City were shut down because of flooded power rooms. Fires were prohibited and railroad locomotives were ordered to extinguish their fires to avoid any danger of igniting the oil.


One death and extensive property damage were caused in the vicinity of Franklin by the flooded condition of the Allegheny River and French Creek.

Every one in the flooded district was ordered to extinguish all fires, as benzine from the Titusville refineries was floating on the rising waters.


In Pittsburgh the flood situation became serious by the evening of March 26th, and continued to grow rapidly worse. The gauge at Point Bridge shewed twenty-six feet at eight o'clock, four feet above the danger point, and the rivers were rising steadily. Rain was falling throughout the western259 watershed, and every stream in western Pennsylvania assumed the proportions of a raging torrent.

In the Pittsburgh district 100,000 were idle, the workmen having been driven from the manufacturing plants by high waters. Ten miles of streets were converted into canals. In parts of the North Side the streets were under twelve feet of water. The policeboats patrolled the flooded district, carrying coal and food to families marooned in the upper floors of their homes.

Pittsburgh's suburbs down the Ohio were all partly inundated. Ambridge, Woodlawn, Sewickley, Coraopolis and McKees Rocks residents were forced to desert their homes or take to the upper floors.

Downtown the pumps were working in most of the hotels, theatres and office buildings. Business was nearly at a standstill. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of store goods was ruined. The Exposition Music Hall was holding four feet of water.

No trains were running to the flooded regions. At least a score of railroad bridges had been destroyed, and miles of tracks carried away. The railroad damage contributed largely to the estimated total damage of $50,000,000.


In Central Pennsylvania, especially along the Susquehanna, the flood gripped many towns. At Shamokin mountain streams overflowed their banks, and in some instances water flowed down mine breaches and found its way to the lower260 levels of collieries. Mine pumps were run to their greatest capacity to prevent inundations. The Shamokin Creek, in Shamokin Valley, overflowed its banks in the lowlands and spread over acres of ground on either side of the creek channel.


More than three inches of water fell at Columbia in a period of twenty-four hours. All the streams overflowed and much damage was done. Trains on the Columbia branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad ran through eighteen inches of water. The storm was accompanied by high winds, which unroofed scores of buildings.

At Marietta, after a storm reported as the worst in many years, the flood situation was grave. The river rose high, fields were flooded and residents on Front Street were obliged to move to second stories. Two men upset in a boat along the York County shore while after ducks were drowned.


Many of the mining towns in Pennsylvania were distressed by unprecedented floods. At Scranton the Lackawanna River overflowed its banks in various places. Richmond No. 1 and No. 2 collieries and the Delaware and Hudson "slope" colliery in North Scranton were compelled to shut down by reason of the water flooding the engine rooms. The Ontario and Western tracks at Providence and the Delaware and Hudson tracks at Dickson City were washed out. Water surrounded the Frisbie and the Bliss silk mills in Dickson City and the girls were marooned for the night.261

Six hundred people living on "Hungarian Flats," in the northern end of the city, became panic-stricken when water broke through the streets, and, taking their cattle and household goods, they fled to the hills at Throop.

At Wilkes-Barre the Susquehanna reached the flood stage. The water went over the lowlands on the west side and Wilkes-Barre was cut off from many of its suburban towns, all traffic being stopped. The towns of Edwardsville, Kingston, Westmoor and West Nanticoke were partly under water. Five hundred families were driven from their homes and forced to seek safety. The water rose so rapidly that it was necessary to rescue women and children in rowboats. Considerable damage was done to property, but there was no loss of life.

In Westmoor, Edwardsville and West Nanticoke the water reached the first floors of the buildings. Families were compelled to depart and leave their furnishings to be damaged by the water.

As a result of heavy rains the water rose high in many of the mines of the Hazleton region. Railroad men were warned to be on guard for washouts.

The Beaver Brook and Hazle Mountain mines closed on account of high water. The mules were removed from the Ebervale, Harleigh and Beaver Brook workings.

At Shenandoah the storm that raged for two days did untold damage to the mines. At Kehley Run Colliery the water main that supplies the boilers with water was washed away and the colliery was compelled to shut down. The fires were262 hurriedly drawn, thereby preventing an explosion. At Bast Colliery, near Girardville, the water rushed into a mine breach and flooded the workers. It was with difficulty the miners escaped.

Electric-light, telephone and telegraph wires were down in Shenandoah, and many homes in the lowlands were flooded. The trolley and steam roads were hampered by the heavy rains, and in many places tracks were washed out.

Heavy floods caused the entombment of six men at the Buck Run Colliery, at Mount Pleasant, and a rescuing party worked up to their necks in water to get the men out alive. The softness of the earth caused the sagging of a breast, which was followed by a sudden rush of water, cutting off the escape of the entombed men.



The Flood in the Ohio Valley


While Dayton, Columbus and other cities of the Middle West were passing through the worst floods in their history, the Ohio River was preparing new perils. All along its course it carried destruction.


At Wheeling, as early as March 26th, several persons were drowned and many narrowly escaped death when a freshet swept down Wheeling Creek through Barton, Ohio.

Two days later, with the crest of the flood past, Wheeling turned to take up in earnest the task of caring for her thousands of destitute and homeless.

Although the loss in money ran into millions, few of those able to aid seemed to think of anything but the alleviation of want and suffering. Before noon Mayor Kirk had raised more than $6,000 for the relief fund, and most of the wealthy264 men and women of Wheeling had contributed. Churches, schools, clubs, auditorium, public halls and hundreds of private residences were thrown open to those driven from the lower quarters.


More than half the business district of Parkersburg and part of the residence section were under water on March 28th, with the Ohio River still rising. The gas, electric and water plants went out of commission soon after noon, and street cars stopped operations. All the newspaper plants were flooded out except that of the Parkersburg Sentinel, whose editorial force was taken to the building in boats, and worked on the second story while water was flowing through the rooms below them. A single page, printed on a proof press and containing the flood news of the Associated Press report, was delivered to newsboys in boats, who sold each copy at a fancy price, as the printing of the edition was limited to two a minute.


The crest of the Ohio river flood reached Louisville April 1st, with a stage of about forty-five feet.

The railroad situation in Louisville became acute. The Louisville, Henderson and St. Louis suspended traffic entirely. The Louisville and Nashville from Cincinnati could reach the city only by detouring through Jeffersonville, Indiana, crossing the swollen Ohio on the Big Four bridge and returning via the Pennsylvania bridge to reach the Louisville and Nashville station, which was used also by the Pennsylvania trains.

Scene showing a section of Omaha entirely wrecked. On the left is all that remains of Idlewild Hall. At this spot a large number of people were killed

Copyright by American Press Association. Scene showing a section of Omaha entirely wrecked. On the left is all that remains of Idlewild Hall. At this spot a large number of people were killed

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A typical scene at one of the relief stations. Here men, who a few hours before had been millionaires, stood in line with their fellow citizens, quite as much dependent on these relief stations for sustenance as paupers. Orville Wright, the famous aviator, was one of the men in the bread line

Copyright by the International News Service. A typical scene at one of the relief stations. Here men, who a few hours before had been millionaires, stood in line with their fellow citizens, quite as much dependent on these relief stations for sustenance as paupers. Orville Wright, the famous aviator, was one of the men in the bread line

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265Western Kentucky points continued to report rising water. Owensboro, Henderson and Wickliffe were centers of refuge for inhabitants of the lowlands, who fled before the flood. There were more than four thousand refugees at Wickliffe.

At Paducah on April 3d the flood situation was rendered doubly grave by the fact that smallpox had broken out in the camp of colored refugees on Gregory Heights. Five hundred on the hill had been quarantined.


The government relief boat "Scioto," in command of Lieutenant Hight, U. S. A., towed a barge load of provisions into Lawrenceburg, Indiana, on March 31st, to find but forty of the five thousand homes there not under water. When the boat proceeded to Aurora conditions were found almost as bad, with but five hundred homes free from the reach of the all-engulfing waters.

The south levee at Lawrenceburg broke at 2.50 P. M. on March 29th. A wall of water poured through the opening and went raging through the center of the town, tearing up all before it. Houses were crushed like eggshells and the wreckage was carried four miles along the Miami to the fill on the main line of the Big Four. The break came when it was least expected, but the residents were warned to leave town, and no lives were lost. Water stood six feet deep in the streets.266


At Jeffersonville two hundred convicts from the Indiana Reformatory worked for nearly two days on the levee during the flood week, and through their work it was possible to save the town from the Ohio River.

A committee of citizens of Jeffersonville perfected arrangements for a banquet to be given in honor of the gray-garbed men who saved their homes. The entertainment was planned for April 13th, at a cost of $1,000.

Evansville citizens were alarmed at the continued rise of the Ohio, and all movables were carried to places of certain safety. On April 1st, the Government took charge of the flood situation. Captain W. K. Naylor hastened to commandeer steamboats and patrol the river to pick up flood sufferers. Mayor Charles Heilman left for Mount Vernon to take charge of rescue work in that section.

Thirty thousand persons within a radius of ninety miles around Mount Vernon were calling for help on April 4th.

The Howell levee, protecting two hundred families in Ingleside, between Evansville and Howell, gave way and the Ingleside district was inundated with depths of from six to ten feet. Minutemen had been posted all long the dangerous dike, and when the water began to pour over the top an alarm was sounded and all escaped.


Shawneetown, Illinois, was entirely cut off from the outside world. On the night of April 1st, the water in the streets267 was twelve feet deep. After another twenty-four hours, all that was left of Shawneetown were the few substantial brick and stone buildings behind the main levee, and they were considered unsafe. Less than one hundred persons remained in the former town of three thousand, and they were perched in the second and third stories of Main Street buildings, structures on the highest street in the town. A strong wind completed the destruction begun by the opening of the levee.


As usual, Cairo feared the worst from the on-sweeping flood of the Ohio River. The Cairo executive flood committee late on March 30th sent an appeal to President Wilson asking for aid for Cairo and towns nearby:

"The worst flood ever known in the Ohio Valley and the Mississippi is now expected. All previous records at Cairo and south may be broken in a few days. We are making every effort in our power to take care of local situation, but the river communities near us should have assistance. Boats, sacks, food and other supplies are needed. May we not have the help of your great office for this district?"

The Big Four levee, which protected the "drainage district," went out on April 1st. It was about five miles north of the city. Accordingly, as workmen were able to battle no longer with the levee situation in the drainage district, they were brought into Cairo and set to work along the river front. The state troops were sent in squads of five, each accompanied by a268 policeman, to visit the rendezvous of men who were unwilling to or had refused to work.

All places of business which did not handle goods needed for the comfort and necessities of the people were closed in order to give opportunity to get out the strongest working force possible. Employees of closed concerns responded willingly for duty and reinforced to a great extent the work along the river front.

The Rev. M. M. Love, of the Methodist Church, who has had charge of relief work in former years, was again at the head of the relief committee. He was given about twenty assistants and a temporary hospital, which was arranged on a large wharf boat in the river.

The Seventh Regiment, which had headquarters in St. Mary's Park, moved its equipment into another large wharf boat. This placed all the quarters of troops on boats. About one half of the population had left the city. They were chiefly women and children.


On the evening of April 2d, the city was in a state of anxiety never before experienced. The river gauge at 6.30 o'clock stood at 54.4, a stage three-tenths of an inch higher than any previous record.

The inundation of the drainage district north of Cairo was complete. The flood waters were on a level with those in the Ohio River, and were prevented from flooding into the Mississippi only by the Mobile and Ohio levee. There were from269 7,000 to 9,000 acres from seven to twenty feet under water. The greater number of industrial plants in the section were submerged up to the second-story windows, and many houses were completely under water. For more than a mile beyond the Illinois Central tracks and for several miles to the north from the big levee surrounding the district from Cairo there was nothing which was not touched by the vast field of water.

Offers of relief, which were made by the Chicago Association of Commerce and the city of Peoria to Cairo, on April 5th, were accepted. The Chicago organization offered eight boats and sixty men to man them. From Peoria came word that a steamboat equipped for life-saving purposes was waiting for a call to Cairo.



The Flood in the Mississippi Valley


On March 30th the Mississippi Valley was facing one of the worst floods in its history, and the steady advance of the river threatened a large section of country. The breaking of the levees along the Mississippi itself, an inevitable result of the great floods in tributary streams, had already begun. The district below St. Louis was a foot or more above the flood stage, although the big rise had not arrived. Preparations were being made to withstand a flood equal to that of 1912. Although the levees had been made higher in some places, it was not to be expected that they would be strong enough all along the river from St. Louis to the sea. In the lower sections of the Mississippi Valley it was feared there might be a repetition of the recent disasters in Ohio.

At Charleston, Missouri, on March 30th, the flood conditions271 were growing more acute every hour. The city was filled with refugees from all directions. Belmont and Crosno, on the Mississippi River, south of Charleston, were submerged, and the residents fleeing to places of safety.

East Prairie, Anniston and Wyatt, on the Cotton Belt Railroad, were shut off from the world and obliged to receive mail through the Charleston post-office.


The St. Louis and San Francisco embankment between Kilbourne and Kewanee, in the extreme southeastern part of Missouri, was cut early on April 5th at the direction of the railway officials to prevent the flooding of a large section of the track if the levee should break at a weak spot. The gap permitted the drainage of a large volume of overflow.

One of the most thrilling of the stories was brought by Captain S. A. Martin and Captain H. A. Jamieson, of the Sixth Missouri National Guard. They were rescued in a launch from a section of levee which broke away at Bird Point, Missouri.

Thirty-six of their men, they said, were on the levee section, which was two hundred yards long and ten feet wide, and was floating down the Mississippi.

Commander McMunn, of the Naval Reserves, at once arranged for a steam launch and started out to rescue the Missouri soldiers. There was a swift current in the river, and the safety of the men caused their commanding officer much anxiety.272


The levee at Hickman, Kentucky, broke shortly after midday on April 4th, after a night of continuous rain, followed by a driving up-stream wind, flooding the factory district but causing no loss of life.

The break, however, did not relieve the river situation at other points, because the water running through the break there was turned back to the main stream by the Government or Reelfoot levee, two miles below the town. The section flooded was occupied by several factories and the homes of hundreds of workmen.


All along the Mississippi men were at work strengthening the levees. The Government on March 29th prepared to rush 20,000 empty sacks to Modoc and other weak points in the St. Francis levee district. They were loaded on barges belonging to the Tennessee Construction Company of Memphis. The boats, which were from one hundred and forty to one hundred and sixty feet in length, were used to house Arkansas convicts sent from Little Rock to do levee work.

This trouble was felt in many places when the rising tide threatened life and property. Industrial anarchy and chaos reigned, and overwhelming, paralyzing fear seized the people.


On April 5th the protection levee along Bayou Gayoso gave way, flooding a small residence section in the northern portion of Memphis.273

The break occurred at a point just west of the St. Joseph Hospital, and within an hour several blocks of houses in the poorer section of the city had been flooded.

Before night a section of the city three blocks wide and six to nine blocks long was covered with from three to six feet of water.


The banks at Hopefield Point early began to cave in. More than an acre slid into the water just south of the point. The main shore line began to crumble, indicating that the oncoming high water would wash more than half the old point away.

Gangs of men were busy working the north levee in Helena, Arkansas.

Major T. C. Dabney, of the upper Mississippi levee district, sent out crews to raise the lowest places. Major Dabney did not anticipate great trouble, but said he believes in being prepared.

A break in the levee in Holly Bush and Mounds, Arkansas, in April, 1912, put all the west bank lines out of commission for ten days. Miles of track were washed away. Fearing a repetition of this, the railroads and shippers agreed to operate a daily boat between Memphis and Helena.

The first break in the main Mississippi River levee occurred on April 8th on the Arkansas side, just south of Memphis. Three counties were flooded by water which poured through a big cut in the wall. No loss of life was reported, the274 inhabitants having been warned in time that the levee was weakening.


It was predicted that the Mississippi River from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to the Gulf would go two feet higher than the highest stage reported in 1912, according to a flood warning issued by Captain C. O. Sherrill, United States Army Engineer, on April 2d.

In 1912 the maximum of the river gauge at New Orleans showed nearly twenty-two feet. At that height, and even with the tide reduced by several immense crevasses, waters came over the New Orleans levees at a number of places, despite the fact that they were topped with several rows of sandbags.

Captain Sherrill ascribed the unprecedented flood entirely to the rains in the river bed caused by last year's crevasses. He issued orders to have the levees from Vicksburg to Fort Jackson on both sides raised above the flood stage of 1912, and men and material were sent to all points along the river to combat the expected high water in the lower Mississippi.

Colonel Townsend, head of the Mississippi River Commission, ten days previously predicted a stage as high as that of 1912, and sent out warnings to all engineers in the valley. It was acting upon his advice that Captain Sherrill began to assemble barges, quarter boats, bags, material and tools to be sent to points between Vicksburg and New Orleans for possible emergencies.275

In explaining why the river from Vicksburg to the mouth of the river would be higher than last year, Captain Sherrill pointed to the fact that crevasses both below and above the stretch in 1912 lowered the river there, whereas upon the present rise, with levees expected to confine the water, the crest naturally would be higher. Because of this fact the brunt of the high water was expected to strike that stretch, and any possible trouble to be looked for could be expected there, although the levees between Old River and Baton Rouge might also be in danger.


The hopes of the people began to rise as they learned that the entire Mississippi levee system was to be made two feet higher than the record of the flood last year. It was expected the work would be completed before the crest of the Ohio River flood reached the lower Mississippi Valley.

On receipt of reports that two hundred families had been driven from their homes in the lowlands of the Atchafalaya River, near Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, owing to high water, and were in a destitute condition, local relief committees from New Orleans rushed a large quantity of supplies to that section.

The appeal said if immediate aid was not received it was feared many would die of starvation. Inhabitants of the district were principally foreigners, who had reclaimed a part of their truck farms, which were destroyed by last year's flood. Their newly planted crops were abandoned.276


It is a curious fact that the Mississippi has done as much to kill the old doctrine of states' rights as any other influence. For instance, Louisiana, after spending thirty millions of dollars on river problems, was quite willing to concede that the Mississippi was a national affair and that Federal aid was altogether desirable. But it is plain that the resources of the individual states as well as of the nation must be utilized for the prevention of floods. This is a task so vast that a united effort is required.



Damage To Transportation, Mail and Telegraph Facilities


Only one railroad was working between New York and Chicago on the night of Wednesday, March 26th. That was the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern. Over the line were speeding the trains of the New York Central and allied lines, the Pennsylvania, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Erie, passenger and freight service combined. Many trains were derailed in flooded territories.

The following bulletin was given out at the office of W. C. Brown, president of the New York Central Railroad:

"The main line of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway to Chicago is not affected to any extent by the heavy rains, and trains are departing practically on schedule between New York and Chicago.278

"The situation south of the Lake Shore line, however, is serious and no trains are being started out of Cleveland for Indianapolis, St. Louis, Dayton, Cincinnati and intermediate points. Through passengers for Columbus are being transferred at New London, Ohio, and handled through to destination."


Trains went out of the Grand Central Station of New York just the same, but no through western ticket was sold unless the purchaser was informed that it must be accepted subject to delay. When the Southwestern Limited left at four o'clock its ordinary Cincinnati sleeper had been renamed the Columbus sleeper and the Cincinnati man had to take a chance. When its other western expresses went forth the other Ohio, St. Louis and southern sleepers were all running on conditions.


The Erie Railroad west of Olean, the main line, was out of commission. According to reports received, there were at least one hundred and twenty washouts along that line farther west, with many bridges gone. Some of the washouts were a mile in length and with the tracks had gone the roadbed. Twenty trains bound west were stalled at various points, but all were in big towns, so the passengers did not suffer.


The Pennsylvania Railroad suffered more damage than any other. The service west of Pittsburgh was badly crippled.279 All through trains from the East to points on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway west of Pittsburgh were temporarily discontinued.



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On the lines East, in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, Oil City, Erie and Buffalo, serious washouts developed, aggregating in length on the Allegheny Division, about two thousand five hundred feet of main track.

Benjamin McKeen, general manager of the Pennsylvania Railroad's lines, west of Pittsburgh, informed Broad Street Station, Philadelphia, on Thursday, that all lines were blocked on both passenger and freight service, except between Pittsburgh and Cleveland by way of Alliance.280

"We are gradually getting our lines of communication established so that our information seems a little more definite, although the lines are working very unsatisfactorily yet at many points.

"We have now gotten the Fort Wayne road open from Chicago to Mansfield with single track over the points where the breaks were, and we are actively at work, both east and west, for a distance of about seventy miles between Canton and Mansfield, where there are four bridges gone and quite a number of washouts, and the best figures we have now are that we will probably get the Fort Wayne line open by Monday morning.

"We have found out definitely that our bridge at Piqua is still standing, although there are vast washouts at each side of it. We also know definitely that our bridge at Dayton is gone; also the four-span bridge over the Muskingum River at Zanesville is gone and there is some question as to whether our bridge over the Scioto River at Circleville is gone or not, as we have no definite information on this.

"We have men and material all assembled and starting actively at work here and there wherever the water has receded sufficiently to permit us."

On the Pennsylvania Railroad alone the loss amounted to millions of dollars. There was not only the tremendous loss due to the loss of tracks, roadbed and bridges, but also the loss of passenger and freight revenues. Everywhere it was conceded that the tie-up was the most serious and extensive in the history of the road.

Hundreds of substantial buildings were lifted from their foundations and piled up like broken cigar boxes simply by the awful sweep of the wind

Photograph by Brown Bros. Hundreds of substantial buildings were lifted from their foundations and piled up like broken cigar boxes simply by the awful sweep of the wind

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Some of the most prominent society women and girls in Dayton shouldered hoes and shovels in the work of cleaning up the city

Photograph by Underwood & Underwood. Some of the most prominent society women and girls in Dayton shouldered hoes and shovels in the work of cleaning up the city

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The financial loss to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad aggregated millions of dollars in the destruction of property alone.

President Willard was asked on Thursday for an estimate of the damage wrought by the floods. His reply was:

"I cannot tell. I haven't an idea. I wish I could say that it would be $2,000,000, but I cannot.

"I know that half a dozen bridges on the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton have been destroyed and bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio have been washed away. We have lost one of our largest bridges on the main road to Chicago, at Zanesville, Ohio, and it will probably be six months before we will have another completed bridge there, although we will have some bridge there soon. We hope to have our main line to Chicago open in twenty-four hours, and our main line to Cincinnati open in the same time. We cannot tell when we will have our line to St. Louis open."


Conservative estimates of the damage to railroad property in the flooded Middle West, plus the loss entailed by the suspension of traffic, ranged from $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.

The entire railway system of Ohio and Indiana was practically put out of business for five days by the floods in the Middle West. To repair and replace the railways affected by this disaster, railway officials stated, would practically wipe out the surplus earnings of many railroads. In other282 cases dividends were threatened. The reason was, they said, that all such damage must be retrieved out of current earnings and could not be charged to capital.

As an illustration of how the railroads spend money in such an emergency, it may be said that the Pennsylvania sent one hundred and fifty expert bridge builders out West from New York in one day soon after the flood. These men received record wages; they traveled in sleepers, with special dining cars. The company was sending steam-shovels and pile-drivers on limited trains and a first-class laborer could get a private compartment quicker than could a financier.

"There will be improvements in railroading through all the districts every day from now on, but there will not be anything like a restoration of former conditions for months," said one railroad official. "It takes time to rebuild steel bridges, especially as the big steel plants have been experiencing a little trouble of their own."


Storm, flood and fire in the Middle West played havoc with the United States mails. Postmaster-General Burleson announced on March 26th that the destruction wrought by the floods in Ohio and Indiana was so serious that it would be ten or twelve days before a regular mail service could be resumed with the remote districts.

Reports showed that never before in the history of the service had there been such a serious interruption to the mails on account of floods. There was practically no local283 service on the railroads in the territory bounded by Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Terre Haute and the Ohio River.

Mails to New York from points in Kentucky and Tennessee, from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Ohio, and all points south of the Ohio River came by way of Washington and were from five to seven hours late. The Arkansas and Oklahoma mails traveled by way of Chattanooga and Memphis.

The representatives in the field were directed to be in constant communication with the department at Washington and to make every effort to supply the people in the flood districts with mail as rapidly as arrangements could be completed. Mails for distant points which regularly passed through the flooded sections were detoured north and south, resulting in unavoidable delay.


Never before in the history of the United States was there such a general prostration of telegraph and telephone wires as during the great flood. Chicago was "lost" to the East for part of a day, and it was found impossible to reach that city via the South. Throughout eastern Ohio service was paralyzed, and such few wires as could be obtained were flickering and often going down.

The Western Union and Postal Telegraph Companies in New York announced on March 26th that they did not have a wire working in the thousands of square miles roughly284 marked by Indianapolis on the west, Pittsburgh on the east, Cleveland on the north and the Ohio River on the south. The Postal had but two wires working between New York and Chicago and these were routed by way of Buffalo. None of its wires south of Washington was working.

An army of 10,000 men was sent into the region to repair the wires, but their work was almost impossible because of the inability of the railroads to transport their equipment.

The American Telephone and Telegraph Company had the only facilities in the stricken sections and turned them over without reserve to the press associations, believing that in this manner the public could best be served.

At the offices of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and the Union Telegraph Company in New York, on March 28th, joint announcement was made as follows:

"In the use of the necessarily limited wire facilities reaching the flooded districts of Ohio and neighboring states due importance is being given to messages to and from public officials, relief associations, the press and to such urgent messages as have to do with measures of relief, believing that thus the public will be best served until full service can be restored.

"There has been no time during the past week when the combined facilities of the two companies have not afforded communication with the larger cities and towns, but local conditions render it impossible in many cases to deliver telegrams or to make local connections by telephone."



The Work of Relief


The sympathetic response of the American people never fails to measure up to the summons of any calamity. Relief is plentiful and prompt. The awful story of the flood and tornado was no sooner told than the machinery of government, the organized forces of the Red Cross and individual efforts in every city within reach were co-operating to provide succor and supplies to the sufferers. Tents for shelter, cots, food by the trainload, hospital and medical supplies, were almost immediately on their way to the stricken district.


The Federal Government was alive to the needs of the flooded districts of the Middle West with activity that almost surpassed the hustle and bustle of war times. Every department from the White House down, directed its energies toward the relief of distress and suffering in Ohio and Indiana. As the result of appeals from Governor Cox, the American Red Cross and others, President Wilson issued an appeal to the nation at large to help the sufferers.286

President Wilson's Messages
For the Relief of the Stricken States

To Mayor Dahlman, of Omaha:

"I am deeply distressed at the news received from Nebraska. Can we help you in any way?


To Governor Ralston, of Indiana,
and Governor Cox, of Ohio:

"I deeply sympathize with the people of your state in the terrible disaster that has come upon them. Can the Federal Government assist in any way?


"The terrible floods in Ohio and Indiana have assumed the proportions of a national calamity. The loss of life and the infinite suffering involved prompt me to issue an earnest appeal to all who are able in however small a way to assist the labors of the American Red Cross to send contributions at once to the Red Cross at Washington or to the local treasurers of the society.

"We should make this a common cause. The needs of those upon whom this sudden and overwhelming disaster has come should quicken everyone capable of sympathy and compassion to give immediate aid to those who are laboring to rescue and relieve.



Indicating the gravity of the situation in Ohio, a telegram from Governor Cox was received by Secretary of War Garrison asking for food and medical supplies and tents for the sufferers.

Secretary Garrison promptly took steps to meet the emergency, and the supplies requested were sent by express to Columbus. The two experienced officers who handled the Mississippi flood situation, Majors Normoyle and Logan, were also ordered to proceed to Columbus to aid Governor Cox.

All troops in Western New York and all available troops in the Central Department were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to proceed to relief work in Ohio and Indiana, if needed.

President Wilson issued his appeal for funds for the Red Cross following a conference with Miss Mabel Boardman, chairman of the relief board of the organization.

The Secretary of the Treasury enlisted promptly in the relief movement, and the public health service and the life-saving service and marine hospital surgeons available were placed at the command of the state authorities. The public health hospitals at Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, Cairo, Evansville and St. Louis were thrown open for the care of the flood victims. Surgeons P. W. Wille, of the Marine Hospital288 at Cleveland, was instructed to go to Columbus to co-operate with the state board of health. Dr. J. O. Cobb, of the Chicago Marine Hospital, was ordered to Indianapolis.


The President was in his office all day Wednesday, March 26th, in close touch with the situation. He apprised the chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations committees that the government was going ahead with emergency expenditures on the assumption that Congress would back up the administration later. Both promised hearty support, and orders went out on every side for a gigantic work of relief.

Major P. C. Fauntleroy was sent to Columbus to handle the medical supplies. Nine medical officers and fifty-four hospital corps men went from the Department of the East carrying a big supply of surgical dressings, anti-typhoid prophylactics and the complete "reserve medical supply" comprising hundreds of drugs sufficient to treat 20,000 patients for one month. Precautions against the spread of disease were to be handled by sanitation experts.

Life-saving crews were ordered from Louisville to Dayton and from Lorain, Ohio, to Delaware, Ohio, and the public health service distributed its agents over the afflicted districts.


By Friday more than double the apparently necessary medical supplies for the flood sufferers were on their way to Ohio and Indiana, a full quota of supplies having been started289 from the army supply warehouses at St. Louis and a second consignment from Washington.

From the naval stores a huge consignment of wearing apparel and bedding for the sufferers was sent to Columbus. These supplies were started from the naval stores at New York. Paymaster-General Cowie made the arrangements under orders from Secretary of the Navy Daniels. The shipment included 12,000 blankets, 7,000 watch caps, 50,000 pairs of light weight drawers, 80,000 light weight undershirts, 30,000 heavy weight drawers, 30,000 heavy weight shirts, 4,200 navy jerseys, 15,000 khaki jumpers, 24,000 pairs of dungaree trousers, 8,000 overcoats, 24,000 pairs of shoes and 15,000 pairs of woolen socks.

In addition to the clothing supply the Navy sent also 300,000 rations on the way to Columbus and Dayton. Paymaster Nesbit and Paymaster's Clerk Conell were in charge of the distribution. Assistant Secretary Roosevelt supplied them with $25,000 in currency with full authority to expend it for such supplies and services as they might find necessary.

For a time President Wilson considered going himself to the flood districts; but reports from Secretary Garrison and others were so encouraging that he decided it was unnecessary.

"Refreshed by the tears of the American people, Ohio stands ready from today to meet the crisis alone," wrote Governor Cox of Ohio on March 31st.

After seeing the situation well in hand in Dayton, Secretary Garrison returned to Cincinnati and then proceeded to Columbus. By April 2d he was able to return to Washington.290


From the first day when Miss Mabel T. Boardman conferred with President Wilson, the American Red Cross and the government worked hand in hand. At headquarters of the National Red Cross funds from all quarters of the Union rained in on the officials. Friday night the Red Cross headquarters had received more than $190,000 in cash and drafts, and basing their estimates on telegraphic advices from other points, they were assured that their total already exceeded $350,000. Boston sent in $32,000, Cleveland $33,000 subject to call. Baltimore notified Miss Boardman to draw on the local chapter of the order for $7,000. New York reported $75,000 in hand and the District of Columbia chapter had more than $25,000 ready for instant use. Henry C. Frick sent a check for $10,000 and John D. Rockefeller $5,000, with the suggestion that more was ready when needed.

With Miss Boardman at the head of the party the Red Cross relief train left Washington Friday over the Chesapeake and Ohio, bound for Columbus.

The train comprised six express coaches, two of which were loaded with steel cots for use of the homeless. Two others were loaded with bedding and clothing supplies and two with foodstuffs of all sorts.

Hurrying to Omaha to assist in relief work in that city, Ernest P. Bicknell, of the American National Red Cross, halted in Chicago. Informed of the serious situation in Indiana and Ohio, he telegraphed to Omaha and received word that the relief work was well in hand. He then decided to go291 to the flood-stricken districts in Indiana and Ohio. Reaching Columbus, Mr. Bicknell had soon established Red Cross headquarters and the corps under his direction was working in closest harmony with the state flood relief committee, the Governor of Ohio and the United States army and navy relief officials.

The disaster in the Middle West was the greatest the Red Cross Society was ever called upon to deal with. The amount of suffering entailed by the flood far exceeded that of the San Francisco earthquake and fire.


Bravely the railroads worked their way into the stricken territory. While a blizzard raged in Ohio from Cleveland to Cincinnati, with the temperature down to twenty-eight degrees above zero, the railroads—which means all the railroads in every section, the New York Central, the Pennsylvania, the Erie, the Baltimore and Ohio, and their allied lines—threw into the battle thousands upon thousands of men, trainload after trainload of machinery, and money rewards as a stimulus for the repair of miles of washed-out tracks and shattered bridges. Every division superintendent of every line in the district, his assistants, usually with some high executive officer of the system in control; every man and boy able to handle a pick or shovel or crowbar, to carry his end of a girder or drag a coil of rope, was out on the job.

It was not for any selfish purpose that the roads threw this immense power into the work. Their object was to open up292 rail communication with the desolated cities, towns and villages and send relief trains with bread, with blankets, with medicines, doctors and nurses. It was not a race for money.

"We will carry every pound of supplies for the devastated district free over any lines" announced the Pennsylvania, and it added free passage for doctors, nurses and every other good Samaritan.

"No charge," was the echo of the New York Central, and that order went to every freight and passenger agent of the big system everywhere. The Baltimore and Ohio, the Erie, and every other line followed in an instant. The railroads helped all they could.


If the nation was generous and prompt in its relief, neighboring states and individuals were not less so. Governors in many states and mayors of many cities, following the noble example of the President, issued appeals for help. Mayor Dahlman of Omaha and Governor Morehead of Nebraska bravely declined the help offered by President Wilson and others for sufferers from the tornado; but the flood-stricken districts, for whom recovery was far less easy, in many cases were obliged to appeal for aid. From towns throughout Ohio and Indiana came desperate cries for help, and to all of them a sympathetic nation listened and responded.


If the great calamity stirred the hearts of the nation with pity, so did the prompt and splendid relief inspire enthusiasm.293 Even though the despatch of United States troops to the scene of devastation in the West lacked legal sanction the whole country unanimously approved the movement which thus itself becomes a signal to all nations, and a corroboration of the truth that the American is not hidebound by fantastic traditions when some serious achievement is to be done. Our soldiers in this case for the nonce became missionaries. Under the leadership of the Secretary of War, the troops carried clothes, food, medicaments, tents, blankets, and in short all the paraphernalia necessary to succor the distressed, assuage the pangs of suffering and restore normal conditions within the wide areas battered by the destructive elements.

This peaceful use of our fighting men brings into realization the vision so strongly cherished by John Ruskin—the vision of the time when soldiership should develop into a form of modern knight-errantry, and the "passion to bless and save" should inspire those who were formerly drilled only in the exercises of conquest and slaughter. Americans may well be proud to reflect that this era, which a few decades ago seemed but the chimerical dream of a doctrinaire, has found its pledge and promise in the generous endeavors of our standing army.

"Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war."

In narrowing the dimension of suffering, and lending a strong hand to those overwhelmed by calamity, our soldiers raised up the defeated from the sore battle of life.



Previous Great Floods and Tornadoes


Floods are not usually so dramatic and awe-inspiring as tornadoes, but they are even more destructive of life. The Johnstown flood of 1889, however, was dramatic and even spectacular—so swiftly did it come and so certainly could it have been avoided. It destroyed 2,235 lives, swept away ten millions of dollars worth of property, and carried unutterable grief into countless happy homes.

Lying in a narrow valley were eight villages, aggregating 50,000 to 80,000 inhabitants, the largest of the eight being situated at the lower end, with about 25,000 inhabitants.

Far up in the mountain, 300 feet above the chief village of the valley, hung a huge body of water. As nature had designed it, this had been a small lake with natural outlets, which prevented it from being a menace to the valley below. But the hand of man sought to improve the work of nature. An immense dam, 110 feet in height, held back the water till the lake was more than quadrupled in size.295


These were the conditions on May 31, 1889. There had been heavy rains for several days. The artificially enlarged lake was really a receiving reservoir of the water-shed of the Alleghany Mountains. Every little stream running into it was swollen to a torrent. The lake, which in ordinary times was three and a half miles long, with an average width of over a mile, and a depth in some portions of 100 feet, was swollen into a volume of water of enormous proportions. Between it and the valley below there was a dam nearly 1,000 feet wide, 100 feet high, ninety feet thick at the base and twenty at the top. This barrier gave way and the water rushed into the valley in a solid wave with a perpendicular front of forty feet.

It swept away the seven smaller villages like straw, hurled them, together with uncounted thousands of their inhabitants, upon the larger village, and then, with the accumulated ruin of the whole eight, dashed upon the stone bridge at the bottom of the valley. The bridge withstood the shock, and a new dam, as fateful with horror as the first had been, was formed. It held back the water so that the whole valley was a lake from twenty to forty feet in depth, with the remains of its villages beneath its surface. The wreckage of the ruined villages, piled from forty to sixty feet high, against the bridge, spread over a vast area, with countless bodies of the living and the dead crushed within it and struggling for life upon it, caught fire, and burned to the water's edge.

When the flood came—a terrific punishment for the carelessness of the past—the doubters saw their homes washed296 away, their dear ones drowned; in some cases they did not even live to see the extent of the havoc wrought. Whole families were drowned like rats; houses were shattered to pieces or floated about on the water like wrecked ships.

Intolerable was the suffering that followed—grief for the loss of dear ones, actual physical hurt, hunger and want. The problem for many in the eight towns was to begin life all over—and that without hope. Immediate suffering was in some measure prevented by the speedy help rendered by neighboring towns, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the entire nation. But nothing could undo the fearful damage of the past.


Great as was the Johnstown flood, it shrinks into insignificance before the appalling hurricane-brought flood of Galveston, which devastated the city and swept thousands of its inhabitants to their death. There is little in the new city which arose to remind one of the awful tragedy—unless it be the strong sea-walls constructed to keep out future floods.

The storm came over the bay from the gulf before daylight Saturday morning, September 8, 1900. At 10 A. M. the inundation from the bay began, but even then no alarm was felt. The wind took on new strength and the waters were carried four blocks through the business section into Market Street. Ocean freighters dragged anchors in the channel and were soon crashing against the wharves. The wind reached the hurricane stage, blowing at something like one hundred and twenty miles an hour, and buildings297 began to crumble. By this time the bay water had reached a high point on Tremont Street. The gulf, however, was quiet.

Then a remarkable thing happened. The wind suddenly shifted from the north to the southeast, the hurricane increased in fury, and, picking up the waters of the gulf, hurled them with crushing force against the four miles of residences stretched along the beach. There was nothing in the way of protection, and houses were knocked over like so many toy structures.

By three o'clock the gulf had spread over the city and mingled in the streets with the waters of the bay. The violence of the wind continued. Higher and higher rose the water. Buildings began to collapse. Shrieks of agony were heard. One family of five took refuge in four different houses, abandoning each in turn just in time to save themselves. Hundreds, struck by the flying wreckage, fell unconscious in the water.


When night settled down over the city the whole bay side was in process of destruction. Wreckage was thrown with the force of a catapult against houses which still offered resistance. Electric light and gas plants were flooded and the city was in darkness.

In the cemeteries the dead of years were washed from their graves and carried across to the mainland. A tramp steamer was carried over to Virginia Point, then sent like a shot through three bridges. The steamers "Alamo" and "Red Cross" were dropped upon Pelican Flats, and when the waves298 retreated were left high and dry upon the sand. Yachts and sailboats were driven over the mainland and could be seen in the grass far beyond Texas City. Railroad cars loaded and empty were carried into the bay, and miles of track torn up and washed away.


Between ten and eleven the wind fell and the water began to recede, almost as rapidly as it had come. Before daylight the streets were clear of water, but covered with slime and choked with wreckage. It was not necessary to go to the beach to find the dead. They lay thick along the streets.

A Committee of Public Safety was organized, and all men, white and black, were asked to assist in the removal of the dead. The superstitious negroes refused, but were finally compelled at the muzzle of guns to gather in the bodies. It was suggested that the burials be made at sea. Society men, clubmen, millionaires, longshoremen and negroes took up the work, loading the bodies on drays and conveying them to barges. The dreadful procession lasted all of Sunday and Monday. Three barge loads of dead were taken out to sea and given back to the waves. The weights, however, were not properly attached, and soon the corpses were back in the surf, washing on the beach.

After the storm the weather turned milder. By Monday the city reeked with the smell of a charnel house and pestilence was in the air. The bodies of dead animals lay in the streets; the waters of the bay and gulf were thick with the dead.299 All the disinfectants in the city were quickly consumed. An earnest appeal for more was sent to Houston and other places. Tuesday a general cremation of the dead began. Trenches were dug and lined with wood. The corpses were tossed in, covered with more wood, saturated with oil, and set on fire. Later, bodies were collected and placed in piles of wreckage, and the whole then given to the flames. Men engaged in this horrible task frequently found relatives and friends among the dead. The men wore camphor bags under their noses, but frequently became so nauseated that they were forced to stop work. The fire purified the air, however, and disinfectants began to come in in answer to the appeal. The streets were covered with a solution of lime, and carbolic acid was showered everywhere.


And not only Galveston was a sufferer in this storm. For fifty miles along the coast, on both sides of the city, the storm found victims. The waters of the sea were carried inland ten miles all along the coast. The total loss of life in Galveston and near-by places amounted to 9,000; the property damage to $30,000,000.


"The Mississippi River in flood," says a recent writer, "takes everything with it. To watch the endless procession which the swift current carries by is to see all the properties of tragedies. The Mississippi in flood is the despoiler of homes. Houses come floating down the stream, outbuildings, furniture and300 myriads of smaller things, tossed by waves in the 'runs' or sailing on serenely in the broader stretches. Great trees go by. They are evidence that the Mississippi has asserted its majesty somewhere and has cut a new channel to please itself, eating away bank, growth, and all. Carcasses of cows and horses and dogs float down the stream, carrying a pair of buzzards, those scavengers who have so much work to do after the floods have receded. It is a terrible and a melancholy sight."


In April and May, 1912, the Mississippi reached a height never before equaled, and the great river went tearing through levee after levee on its resolute course to the sea. The river reached a maximum width of sixty miles, killed 1,000 persons, rendered 30,000 homeless, and caused damage to the amount of $50,000,000.

By April 2d, Columbus, Missouri, was buried under fifteen feet of water, and in some parts of the town residences were wholly submerged. New Madrid was not much better off, and Hickman, Kentucky, looked like a small city of Venice. President Taft sent a hurry call to Congress for half a million dollars, and within fifteen minutes after his message was read, the lower house had passed an appropriation bill and sent it to the Senate, which laid everything else aside to give it right of way. By April 5th, the Reelfoot Lake district, covering 150 square miles of Kentucky farm land, was an inland lake and the river at Cairo, Illinois, had risen to nearly fifty-four feet, the average depth from St. Louis to New Orleans being301 ordinarily but nine feet. Cairo was for days surrounded by the torrents from the Ohio and the Mississippi beating at the levees, while to the north of the city factory buildings were immersed to their roofs or even entirely covered. By April 7th, the levee in Arkansas, seven miles south of Memphis, had a gap a mile long and Lake County, Tennessee, had no ground above water but a strip six miles long by four wide. By the middle of the month, the levees at Panther Forest, Arkansas; Alsatia, Louisiana; and Roosevelt, Louisiana, had succumbed, and a thousand square miles of fertile plantations were from five to seven feet under water.


Rain-storm after rain-storm caused the stream to swell, undermined dikes, and broke new crevasses all the way from Vicksburg to New Orleans. Hundred of farmers and their families, a majority of them negroes, were cut off and overwhelmed by the flood. For several weeks the people of New Orleans were under the fear that a large part of the city might be submerged and ruined. Near by vast sugar plantations were under water, while the prosperous town of Moreauville was inundated. Refugees' camps were established and relief work began. Many vessels assisted the army. Pitiful stories of famished and suffering victims of the flood were told, and the miles and miles of desolated country struck horror to the heart. They have a pregnant saying down there: "Come hell and high water." Some day, it is to be hoped, we are going to take the force out of that expression.302


Disaster by tornado is not so easy to avoid as disaster by flood. One of the most destructive storms of recent years was that which swept over Louisville, Kentucky, in the evening of March 27, 1890, killing 113 persons, injuring 200, and destroying property to the amount of $2,500,000. The storm came from the southwest and cut a path through the heart of the city three miles long and nearly a half mile wide. Nearly every building in its course was leveled to the ground or otherwise damaged. Outlying towns were also devastated by the storm, and flood calamities occurred simultaneously along the Mississippi.

About eight o'clock the storm was raging with tremendous force. The rain fell in sheets, the lightning was constant and vivid, the wind blew ominously. The streets were soon miniature rivers, and telegraph and telephone poles began to snap. By 8.30 there was alarm all over the city, but before any measure of safety could be adopted the body of the mighty tempest dashed itself on the houses along Fifteenth Street and tore itself diagonally across the city, leaping the river at Front Street to Jeffersonville.

The passage across the city was not continuous and in uniform direction, but the storm lifted itself up, fell with furious force on a block, then rolled over into adjacent blocks, when it rested a moment, then dashed furiously up and forward again, launching to the right and left with demoniacal whimsicality.

Everything it touched suffered. Church steeples fell,303 crushing beneath their weight the buildings over which they had stood guard. Wrenching warehouses to fragments the tornado passed to the river front, leaving a broad swath of wreckage and dead bodies. The belt of destruction extended from the west side of Seventh Street as far as Ninth and Main Streets, and an equal width across to the point where the city was first touched. Along this path were demolished homes and wrecked business houses—the annihilated work of years. On the river the storm found full sway. The tawny water of the swollen Ohio became a lake of seething foam. Steamboat after steamboat was driven from its moorings and tossed like a drop of spray in the boiling stream.


Almost immediately after the storm had passed thousands crowded into the distressed district; maddened men and women fought and struggled through the debris trying to find some loved relative or friend. From every side arose the groans of the wounded and dying. About the Falls City Hotel groups thronged waiting for news.

Fires burning in several places added to the horror, though no great damage was done by these. Crushed and blackened ruins marked the spot of the Union Depot, which collapsed during the storm, crushing a train which was just ready to depart. Every building, tree and telegraph pole in the district struck was leveled, and almost all the railroads entering the city were obliged to suspend all passenger and freight traffic.304


The work of rescuing the mangled dead was bravely carried on the following day and before many hours the American genius for organization, order and action had met the demands of the overwhelming disaster. While the dead were still lying awaiting burial, plans were made to rebuild and resume again the work of life.

The local police and militia kept order. The city authorities and board of trade organized relief corps. The brave spirit of self-reliance triumphed over the appalling calamity. Money for relief was sent to the city from many sources, and it is interesting to note that the citizens of Johnstown, who had suffered from the great catastrophe of the previous year, were among the first to offer help. They knew what desolation meant.


A far more terrible story of death and destruction is that of the St. Louis tornado of May 27, 1896, which lasted but half an hour, killed 306 persons and destroyed property to the amount of $12,000,000.

The same tornado visited many places in Missouri and Illinois, causing an additional property loss of $1,000,000.

The sky grew black at 4 P. M., the sun was eclipsed in the whirl of driving dust and dirt, mingled with the branches and leaves of trees, the boards of buildings and other loose material torn off by the wind. At times the wind blew eighty miles an hour. In that mad half hour, while property was crumbling and hundreds of human lives being snuffed out, thousands305 of maimed and bleeding persons were added to the awful harvest of devastation.


Over in East St. Louis, where the houses were all frail structures, the destruction was greatest. The great Eads Bridge was twisted all out of shape, and freight cars were tossed to and fro, tumbled into ditches and driven sometimes into the fields many yards from where they had stood. The great Vandalia freight house fell in a heap of utter ruin, burying beneath it thirty-five men who had there sought refuge.

The swath cut was three blocks wide and four miles long. The top of the bridge was knocked off as well as the big abutment. The Martell House was blown into the Cokokia Creek and many were buried in the ruins.

To add to the horrors of the night the electric-light plants were rendered incapable of service, and the gas lamps were also shut off, leaving the city in utter darkness. Fire broke out in several portions of the city, and the fire department was unable to make an effective fight because of the choked condition of the streets and the large number of firemen who were engaged in the imperative work of rescuing the dead and wounded.


The City Hospital, which fortunately survived the storm, was filled to overflowing with the injured. In addition to those who were killed in their houses and in the streets, scores of dead were carried away by the waters of the Mississippi306 River. Many steamers on the levee went down in the storm. From the "Great Republic," one of the largest steamers on the lower river, not a man escaped. The word "annihilation" is perhaps the only one that can adequately describe the awful work of the tornado.

The rising of the sun in the morning revealed a scene of indescribable horror. The work of carrying out the maimed and dead immediately began, but it was a task of big proportions, as many bodies were totally buried under the debris. Hundreds of families were rendered homeless, and the business portion of the community was almost in absolute ruin.

Lack of food added to the misery. Bread sold for fifteen cents a loaf. A large number of military tents were shipped into the city and many families found shelter in freight yards. The Ohio and Mississippi railroad companies issued permits for the use of their empty cars. Contributions to aid in the work of rebuilding and relief were received and the city council voted $100,000.

It was several weeks before the city began to resume a normal existence. The presence of armed men and endless piles of debris, the suspension of traffic, the grief for departed dear ones, and the sight of the many injured, all contributed to a condition of solemnity and sorrow. "The memory of the strange and awful scenes that have been presented by East St. Louis for the past three days," said one clergyman of the city, "will live in the minds of its inhabitants for years. But our people are too courageous and energetic to be deterred from repairing the physical havoc wrought."307



Johnstown, Pa., breaking of the Conemaugh dam, May 31, 1889; 2,235 killed.

Galveston, Tex., tidal wave, September 8, 1900; 9,000 killed.

Mississippi Valley, May, 1912; 1,000 killed.

Wind Storms

Adams County, Miss., May 7, 1840; 317 killed. Same county, June, 1842; 500 killed.

Louisville, Ky., March 27, 1890; 113 killed, 200 injured; property loss, $2,500,000.

Cherokee, Buena Vista and Pocahontas Counties, Iowa, July 6, 1893, 89 killed; property loss, $250,000.

Little Rock, Ark., October 2, 1894; 4 killed; property loss, $500,000.

Denton and Grayson Counties, Tex., May 15, 1896; 78 killed and 150 injured; property loss, $165,000.

St. Louis and East St. Louis, Mo., May 27, 1896; 306 identified killed; property loss, $12,000,000. Same tornado visited many places in Missouri and Illinois, causing an additional property loss of $1,000,000.

West India hurricane, September 29 and 30, 1896, covering Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York; 114 killed; property loss, $7,000,000.

Eastern Michigan, May 25, 1897; 47 killed, 100 injured; property loss, $400,000.

Galveston hurricane, September 8, 1900; 9,000 killed; property loss, $30,000,000; estimated wind velocity, 120 miles an hour.



Lessons of the Cataclysm and Precautionary Measures


With each succeeding dispatch from the districts stricken by flood and tornado it became clearer that the first impressions of the disaster, shocking as they were, fell not far beneath the dreadful reality.

Hundreds overwhelmed in the rushing floods, hundreds of thousands spared from sudden death only to suffer hunger and thirst and hardship and the perils of fire, cities submerged, villages swept away, countless homes and vast industries destroyed, miles upon miles of populous land drowned under turbulent waters, and over all the grim shadows of starvation and disease—this catastrophe defies picture and parallel to express its desolating horror.309

The widespread calamity, which smote with its cruelest force the beautiful city of Dayton, is one of those for which no personal responsibility can be placed. Like the tidal flood which devastated Galveston and the earth upheaval which laid San Francisco in ruins, it is a convulsion which could not have been foreseen or stayed.


In the presence of such a fearful disaster there are few persons who will say, but there are some who will think, that this is in some manner a visitation decreed upon the communities which suffer. The very magnitude and superhuman force of it will suggest to many minds the thought of an ordered punishment and warning for offenses against a higher power.

Such a concept, happily more rarely held than in earlier times, is, of course, revolting to sober judgment and to the instincts of religious reverence. For it would imply that multitudes of the innocent should suffer indescribable cruelty; it would attempt the impossible feat of justifying the smiting of Dayton, where the inhabitants lived lives of peaceful, helpful industry, and the sparing of communities where men serve the gods of dishonest wealth and vicious idleness.

This was no vengeance decreed for human shortcomings. It was superhuman, but not supernatural. It was but a manifestation of the unchangeable, irresistible forces of nature, governed by physical laws which are inexorable. Nature knows neither revenge nor pity. She does not select her victims, nor does she turn aside to save the good who may be310 in her path. As her concern is not with individuals, but with the race, so she is moved not by mercy, but by law.

To the limited vision of man, with his brief life, nature seems incredibly cruel and wasteful. Her teachings must be learned at fearful cost. Men will ask themselves what lessons are taught by this overwhelming sacrifice.


There is made plain, first, the utter powerlessness of man when he pits his strength against the full demonstration of the laws of nature. It is revealed, again, that there are forces which before all the might of human intellect remain unconquerable. The same grim lesson confronts the scientist whose babe is snatched from him by death; it confronts the millionaire who feels the chill of age creeping upon the frame that has upheld the finances of a nation and has made and unmade panics with the crooking of a finger.


But there flows from such a catastrophe a brighter and better influence than this. With all its horror and shock, there comes inevitably a great joining of minds and hearts. The whole world feels the thrill of kinship and a common humanity. For the time being all conceptions of social caste and class distinction, the most unworthy thoughts of beings fashioned all in the image of their Maker, are leveled and forgotten. Indifference and selfishness disappear. Throughout the nation, throughout the world, there thrills the uplifting311 current of brotherhood, the consciousness that "we be of one blood."

Wherever civilization has exercised its beneficent influence upon the minds of men there is felt, for a little time at least, the sense that all humanity is one; that the strife of man against man and nation against nation is but a pitiful thing, and that we may better concern ourselves with trying to make the common lot brighter and so soften the rigors of the existence we all must face.


Specifically does not such an appalling event serve to awaken responsibility among the wealthy and powerful toward the poor and the weak? When all goes well, when there are no thunderous warnings such as this of the helplessness of man against the forces arrayed against him, the fortunate do not realize that for millions mere existence is a poignant struggle; that hunger and cold and disease prevail even when there are no ghastly floods to make them vivid and picturesque. We do not doubt that there are many who will be stirred by the shock of this dreadful story to a deeper and more sympathetic understanding with the conditions that surround them on every side.


If any further good can come from a catastrophe so cruel, it may be in the stimulating pride of race which it engenders. Such experiences have a unique effect upon the American nature. The greater the calamity which falls upon a community312 the greater seems to be the rebound. Destruction and hardship seem to open great reservoirs of latent energy, inventiveness and enterprise.

Galveston, suddenly overwhelmed by a convulsion of nature, apparently was doomed to molder away in forgotten ruins; but her people cleared the wreck and built a greater city than before. Before the ashes of the old San Francisco had cooled the vision of a better community rose before her inhabitants, and they made it real.

Calamity sets free such a flow of creative power that destruction itself makes for progress. These disasters concentrate upon constructive enterprise stories of emotional energy that in other times are expended in the fierce struggle of competitive existence.


But the great hidden teaching of disaster is that the laws of nature are eternal and inexorable; that they move with unerring precision and resistless force. And this truth applies not only to the tremendous powers of the hurricane, the flood and the earthquake, but to economic principles, which are simply a translation into human terms of the laws manifested in inanimate nature.

The woman whose health is wrecked by overwork, the child whose body and mind are stunted by early labor, the tenement dweller who falls victim to disease because of unwholesome conditions of living—these are sacrifices to natural laws as much as are the thousands swept away in the floods. But, while the flood deaths are due to an outburst of the elements313 which man cannot control, these others are the result of his defiance of the laws of nature.

There is another difference: The victims of economic wrongs due to cupidity and indifference outnumber a thousand to one the victims of natural causes beyond control. All the deaths in these fearful floods are less than those caused every year in a single large city by conditions that might be remedied.

Nature decrees that those who do not have certain amounts of fresh air and food and rest shall die; the law is inexorable. But it is civilization which defies it and brings down the penalty.


A stranger thought is that many whose hearts are melted by this disaster and whose checkbooks open to the suffering survivors are habitually indifferent to the more deadly conditions existing on all sides of their homes. Men contribute generously to the relief funds who, if asked to surrender a fractional part of their dividends in order to make work safer and more healthful and more humane for employees, would berate the suggestion as anarchistic.

This is not due to hardness of heart; it is due to faults of vision. Men display such sympathy in one case and such ruthlessness in another simply because civilization has not yet advanced far enough to create generally the sense of responsibility which is called social consciousness.

There are those who believe that the good impulses aroused by such events as now appeal to us tend to awaken this consciousness;314 on the other hand, a $5,000 contribution to a flood relief fund may, by salving the conscience of the giver, close his mind to the need for changing industrial conditions or expending some of his tenement rents for decent sanitation.

Our own belief is that each calamity brings the minds of the nation into closer sympathy and hastens the day when all men will understand that the society they have builded is guilty of causing miseries just as great as those we are now witnessing, the defying the laws of nature because of indifference and greed.


This country has suffered from many great floods in past years, but none so awful in its scope and terrible consequences. The present calamity must bring the country to its sober senses and make us see the positive necessity—the inevitable MUST—of taking immediate and adequate measures to guard against the repetition of such a disaster. "Strike while the iron is hot," has been the battle-cry of men of action throughout the world! And today, while the iron of adversity is hot in the bosom of the Republic, is the time to strike upon the ideas that are to make the heroic surgery of healing.

What is the remedy for these mighty floods that are sweeping and ruining the interior country? Beyond the supreme consideration of the loss of life they are the financial tragedies of the century. They occur at rare intervals in Ohio and Indiana and in New York. But in the valley of the Mississippi and in the Ohio Valley they are almost an annual or bi-annual scourge of waters, terrific in suffering and appalling in cost.315


No expenditure of public money is too great that will strengthen the defenses of the people against the giant forces of destruction in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. No cost in national expenditure for permanent defense against such catastrophes would approximate the cost in a single decade to the pockets of the people, not to speak of the uncountable value of human life. Governor Cox, of Ohio, estimated that the damage in Ohio alone by the recent floods was more than $300,000,000—nearly as much as the cost of the Panama Canal. The total cost of the recent flood is vastly greater than that of the Panama Canal!

The American Government can no longer stop to consider money in dealing with the problems of internal economy and of elemental humanity. The floods create an emergency as definite and imperative as war. It is time now to start some movement for the preservation of life and property against such occurrences.


It is not the mission of this book to prescribe plans for meeting the situation. That must be the work of a corps of trained engineers who shall study the whole problem comprehensively and in detail. Rather it is our purpose here to bring home the overwhelming need for prompt action. We may be permitted, however, to point in a general way, and on high authority, the general lines that the necessary remedies must take.

The river problems in the great central valleys present316 certain difficulties which engineers have been unable to overcome. If levees are constructed, it is found that the bed of the stream rises also, so that the situation is not materially changed. If channels are deepened, the fury of the floods is increased. If the construction of reservoirs is proposed, there are very important questions of location and danger.


In many places the Mississippi River, closely diked, flows high above the lands adjacent. Even at New Orleans, 107 miles from the Gulf, it is during high water ten to fifteen feet above the level of the city. Obviously the levee system, while useful everywhere and in some localities adequate, is not a universal remedy. Reservoirs properly constructed should be of service in storing the waters of many such rivers as those that have caused the havoc in Ohio and Indiana, but to meet the requirements they would have to be of enormous size, very numerous and costly, as Professor Willis S. Moore, chief of the Weather Bureau, points out.

Nature itself has provided in lowlands throughout all of these valleys receptacles which, before men came, took up the surplus waters. We have reclaimed millions of acres of these lands on the theory that we could confine the rivers which once overflowed them, but thus far we have failed to establish the theory.

It is probable that any successful national work for the control of rivers will have to start with the idea of utilizing some of these natural reservoirs. The lands would not be317 habitable of course, but for agriculture they would be enriched instead of, as now, devastated. To depopulate some such tracts would not be as costly or as terrible as to leave them to the sweep of irresistible torrents, repeated year after year.


Despite Professor Moore's very positive denial of the value of reforestation as a preventive of floods, it is claimed by many authorities that much of the destruction is due to the fact that the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois have been almost denuded of such forests as originally stood there. No impediment is offered to the flow of water and disastrous results follow. But in any event there would have been great floods because of the location of the rainstorms as noted.


The topography of the country must be taken into account. Both valleys, the Miami particularly, are veined with streams tributary to the rivers, and in times of flood the water rises with amazing rapidity and spreads far and wide over the valley floor. The level character of the region in which Dayton itself lies and the fact that there is not enough pitch to the land below to carry off the water accounts for the depth and extent of the floods. Dayton has had many of them. What Congress can do to prevent or minimize them in future by putting the army engineers at work to construct dams for the collection and restraint of waters in the valleys north of the threatened cities must be done, whatever the cost.318


Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, has outlined a plan for preventing such floods as devastated Ohio and Indiana. The plan hinges on the deepening and widening of the channels of all streams that are liable to flood conditions. Mr. Lane hopes to see the idea carried out through the cooperation of the Federal Government, with the aid of the states immediately endangered.

Aside from the perpetual protection against flood, which he believes his plan would give to settlers in low regions, there are widespread districts along the Mississippi and many other rivers that would be thrown open to settlement. The land thus reclaimed from the swamps might go a long way, in Mr. Lane's opinion, to reimburse the states for the appropriations they would be called upon to make. Mr. Lane says:

"The rainstorm, I know, was phenomenal, and even with the system I have suggested would have doubtless resulted in material damage and the loss of some lives. But flood conditions reappear every spring in some noticeable way, and my plan would obviate most of the resulting damage.

"It will not do for Ohio or Indiana or even the two states together to spend their money generously in clearing the beds of the streams within their boundaries. That would merely carry the flood more swiftly to the state lines to the south, and the water would back more angrily than ever into what would quickly be great lakes. The thing is too large for the states alone. A harmonious, scientific system must be worked out by the federal authorities, and the states must319 then make their contributions in the way that will do the most good to the whole valley affected."


Senator Francis G. Newlands, of Nevada, who has made a long study of the whole subject of reclamation and conservation, and who speaks with authority on the subject says:

"The appalling disasters in Ohio and Indiana bring home more forcibly than ever the conviction that our present method of dredging, levees and bank revetment in limited districts is fundamentally inadequate. These things will not protect dwellers on the lower reaches of our rivers so long as there is no control of the headwaters.

"We must adopt an adequate system for the control of the run-off at the headwaters of the tributaries of the Mississippi. The people of Pittsburgh and Dayton are entitled to this, no less than the people of lower Mississippi are entitled to levees. I trust these floods will rouse the American conscience in these matters."

Senator Newlands has urged that $50,000,000 a year be used for the next ten years to develop a comprehensive scheme of storing the excess flood waters at the heads of rivers.

The Democratic platform contained a plank which promised the support of the party to a national scheme of river control. This has already been brought to the attention of President Wilson. With the horrible scenes of the inundated towns of Ohio and Indiana before them, this pledge is likely to become a living promise to the party in power.*352


There is one thing to remember. Our stupendous enterprise of the Panama Canal will soon be completed. Its vast equipment of the world's newest and best machinery for digging and filling will be unemployed. The world's greatest engineer, Colonel Goethals, will also be at leisure. Why not then provide for the transfer of all the wonderful machinery at Panama, under personal charge and direction of Colonel Goethals, to the supreme necessities of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys? The whole American people would applaud and approve this disposition of our great engineer and his great equipment.

This new national necessity is as vital and even more pressing than the Panama Canal. It is worthy of the great Republic and of the great engineer—an achievement if successful which would twin with Panama and make Colonel Goethals immortal and our country's beneficence and enterprise famous through all time.

We have no force and no leader in this tragic emergency more potent for the defense of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys than Colonel Goethals and his Panama machinery. Let us send cheer to the flood-ravaged regions of our country by the assurance that this great man and this incomparable equipment will soon be consecrated to their relief.

* The 32 pages of illustrations contained in this book are not included in the paging. Adding these 32 pages to the 320 pages of text makes a total of 352 pages.

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Calamity of Flood, Fire and Tornado, by Logan Marshall


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