CHILDREN BORN IN FLOOD
INCIDENTS WITHOUT NUMBER TELL TALE OF WONDER— INFANT SAVED IN PILLOW CASE—MAKING A BOAT EVERY SIX MINUTES IN CASH REGISTER FACTORY.
House looting began early and while National Guard companies were on duty, they were unable at first to control.
Incidents without number were narrated of persons in the flooded district waving handkerchiefs or otherwise signaling for aid being swept away before the eyes of watchers.
Many of the rescue boats were swept by the current against what had been fire plugs, trees and houses. They were crushed. What life existed in the district which the water covered was in constant danger and helpless.
There were no boats in Dayton which could breast the current, and people gave up any attempts to reach the business section.
The National Cash Register Co. centered its efforts at rescue and many saved their lives by creeping on a telephone cable, 100 feet above the flood. At first linemen crept along the cable, carrying tow ropes to which the 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.
Those willing to risk their lives in the attempt to rescue, found themselves helpless in face of the water.
Seventy thousand of Dayton’s population were homeless for a time. The National Cash Register plant, on a high hill, offered the only haven in the south end. Three women became mothers in the halls of its office building the first night.
In the woodworking department of the Cash Register factory, 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.
Then came the fire, starting at Vine and Main streets. It jumped, 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 in the water, and then cast into the flames.
Persons hurried from their roofs, where they had been driven by the flood, to the roofs of adjoining houses. Then the sun went down, leaving visible only a weird, desolate light from the fire.
The first to seek safety by sliding along the wire cables was a man. Then came four women. The first of the women was Mrs. Luella Meyer. She is a widow with one son, a boy in knickerbockers. He got out on the wire and with the agility of a cat was soon across. But Mrs. Meyer went over the boiling torrent, swayed as though faint, slipped, and the crowd stood breathless.
By a lucky chance the woman’s senses came back to her so that she could grasp one of the wires. Hand over hand she was able to pull herself to the nearest pole, where she rested before again making the trial. This time she did not falter, but when she was met by the rescuers at the goal of safety she was limp from nervous and physical exhaustion.
Then came two more women, and under the advice of the people standing on safe ground, they kept looking up, and were not subjected to faintness. Then came a young man and his wife. The woman went first, but when she reached safety she refused to get into the ambulance without her baby.
Another five minutes and her husband had been brought out to safe ground. He had the baby in a pillow slip, and the youngster celebrated his arrival to safe ground by a lusty yell. Others followed to safety.
The worst of the flooded district included all North and West Dayton, all the downtown section, the South Side as far as Oakwood, and all the residence suburb of Glendale. The district had a normal population of more than 50,000.
The three rivers that run through Dayton were spanned by mammoth concrete arch bridges, erected a few years ago. It was necessary to dynamite these bridges as great quantities of debris and float had gathered against them and backed up the waters and turned the current into the streets. Even with the bridges blown up, under direct orders from Gov. Cox, the channels were not large enough to carry the water away.
Hundreds of persons crowded in the upper stories of tall office buildings and residences, two miles each way from the center of the town, and it was impossible to approach them. At Wyoming street, three miles from which has been considered the danger line, water was running eight feet deep.
While those marooned in the offices and hotels were in no immediate danger of drowning, there was no way of obtaining food or drinking water for them.
First the frailer buildings swept into the stream, many showing 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. The body of one gray haired woman floated down the stream only a few feet from the watchers at South Park street. The body caught on a guard rope, but swept clear and was gone before it could be recovered.
Governor Cox was in direct communication with Dayton shortly before 2 o’clock. The young woman telephone operator told the governor she was the last one left in the telephone exchange and said that as she was talking to him the Leonard building opposite the city hall had just collapsed with many persons in it. Many other buildings she said had collapsed. The business section of the city she said was seven feet in water.
The Daily News, owned by Gov. Cox, was deep in water, but holding out against the flood.
George F. Burba, secretary to Gov. James M. Cox, and an Associated Press correspondent on their way to Daton had a narrow escape from serious injury and probable death when they crossed a bridge which spans the Scioto river near Chillicothe, fifty miles south of here. The automobile in which the two men and their chauffeur were riding barely struck ground when the bridge crashed into the water behind them and was swept away.
Mr. Burba lived in Dayton, where he was employed on a newspaper owned by Gov. Cox prior to his coming to Columbus to be secretary to the chief executive.
Attorney Cox, brother of Judge Cox of the Supreme Court, refused to leave his house, though the water was up to his second story.
Fifteen men worked trying to protect the power plant under the direction of Superintendent Krueger. It was too much for them, however, and they had to cut a hole in the roof of the building and camp there all night. The last one was rescued late the next day.
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