DIPPED FROM THE FLOOD
STORIES TOLD ON BANKS OF THE RIVERS, ON FLOATING RAFTS AND STRUGGLING BOATS, FROM LIPS OF LIFE SAVERS AND SPECTATORSóNARRATIVES THAT WILL LIVE LONG IN AMERICAN ANNALS.
Fifteen persons were killed in Mankanda, Ill., just north of Anna, in a cyclone which struck the village. A fast freight train on the Illinois Central railroad was blown from the track and 25 heavily loaded cars were dumped into the ditch.
Following the cyclone, rain falling in torrents covered the ground to a depth of three feet, washing away the contents of the cars. The loss of freight will reach $10,000. Engineer Waggoner and Fireman Andrews of Centralia were seriously injured.
The entire stock of boats of the W. H. Mullins Boat Company, of Salem, Ohio, was shipped to the flood district.
The boats, placed at the command of Governor Cox, were accepted by him to aid in the rescue work in the flood district. The shipment included 50 steel motor boats and 600 steel rowboats.
While rushing to the aid of Pennsylvania train No. 3, which was wrecked near West Liberty, a wreck train crashed through bridge No. 91, near Urbana, shortly after the first disaster.
The wreck trainís crew was composed of thirteen workmen, a majority of whom were injured.
The engine and rear sleeping car of west-bound train No. 3 plunged into Mad river at the edge of West Liberty, but the sleeping car fell at the side of the stream and the passengers crawled through the windows and waded to shore. The other six coaches of the train remained on the rails.
The two daysí heavy rains had swollen the river until the bridge was swept away, just a short time before the train reached there.
Conductor Philip Ham of Springfield was swept off the front of the engine into the river, but landed on a bridge down stream. Engineer James Wood and Fireman C. E. Chilton, both of Columbus, jumped after setting the brakes and were slightly injured.
A west-bound Big Four passenger train was wrecked at Hog Creek, three miles from St. Paul, Ind., and the combination baggage and smoking car was thrown into the creek. The passengers crawled through the windows and waded ashore. The wreck was due to a washout.
A freight train of the Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad went through a trestle at Whipple Hill, three miles from Wellington, Ohio, killing Engineer George Dyke, Daniel Shanklin, fireman, and August Burrier, brakeman.
For forty-eight hours Miss Katherine Gilbreth, chief operator in the telephone exchange in Peru, Ind., remained at her post, marooned by from five to eight feet of water. She and her operators fished crackers and a can of ice cream out of the flood and subsisted on the meager rations they provided. With no knowledge of the fate of her mother and sister, Miss Gilbreth used all her time in trying, by means of a spare linemanís test set, to get information from Peru and the surrounding country wherever part of a telephone line would give back reply, so that when she finally would be reached she would have information for inquirers. A lineman reached her exchange over roofs and improvised bridges a short time before the water receded enough to allow her to learn her relatives were safe. When the Record-Herald of Chicago reached Peru with its special wire, the first communication with the main part of the city, Miss Gilbreth told a graphic story of the existing flood conditions and the needs of the city.
Investigation brought to light stories of wonderful bravery and narrow escapes.
Perilous trips around the coping of burning buildings with the yawning water of the flood below them marked the escape of thirty-four men, women and children from the flames that destroyed structures on the north side of Third street from Jefferson to St. Clair of Dayton.
When the alarm of fire was raised persons in the building rushed to the windows to seek aid in the streets. None was available, and, driven by the flames, the refugees retreated from the east and west toward the Cooper building in the center of the square, forcing their way through attic hatchways and climbing over roofs and around copings.
In this manner the Cooper building became the common place of refuge. Hemmed in on both sides, a way out was then sought across Third street. Harvey Kirkbride organized the men. Under his direction one of the party was let down with a rope to the water. He swam to the opposite side, fastened a rope cable in a street staircase and then signaled his comrades behind.
Supporting the women and children the men let themselves down from the Cooper building and struggled through the torrent-swept streets to the other side. The stairs led to safety on the upper floors. Thence the entire thirty-four made their way to an alley and across it to a place of safety. There they remained until Thursday, when they were rescued.
In that section on the east side of the Miami river and north of the Mad river at Dayton rescue work went forward with two United States life-saving crews in charge. Hundreds of people, living in upper stories, and practically without food or water, refused to leave their homes, believing they would have a better chance for safety there than elsewhere. Water and food were supplied them.
Deeds of heroism performed at Dayton would fill a volume. It is said by the police that fully 100 lost their lives in trying to rescue others.
Two young men took out a birch bark canoe and saved thirty-two persons Tuesday afternoon. One of the boys stopped to get food and the other decided to make a trip with a green hand at the other paddle. The canoe upset in the middle of a street and both boys perished.
Two boys tried to bring Mrs. Joseph Abel, 225 Burns avenue, ashore in a punt. The boat upset and all three were drowned.
One man staggered into a relief station and asked for food. He had been working steadily for thirty-six hours and had brought 374 persons ashore. He collapsed while trying to drink a cup of coffee, and was sent to an emergency hospital.
Many men who had been in the water for hours suffered temporary paralysis of the legs and had to be carried out.
One man on the roof of a house saw three women on the roof of an adjoining house that was being washed down street. He rescued two in a skiff and went back for the third, but a timber caught the craft, which upset, and both were drowned.
Mrs. M. Dorfer, a young woman whose hair was black Monday night, was rescued Wednesday night. Her hair had turned white.
Many of the marooned declined to be taken ashore, deeming that they could subsist more comfortably in the second story of their homes than on shore without shelter.
Mrs. Mary Bogger, 206 Green street, 75 years old and a grandmother, was rescued Thursday.
She had a broken hip, but had refused several offers to take her ashore, believing she was better off at home, though marooned.
One elderly woman, half famished, was carried to an automobile; she carried with her a bird cage containing a canary.
All those who had been imprisoned in the business district were liberated by Thursday, most of them walking out unaided.
Fifteen hundred had been marooned in one block since Tuesday, without food and with nothing but rain water, caught from the water spouts, to drink.
It was found that the downtown buildings housed more prisoners than had been estimated, and this fact helped to cut down the original estimate of the dead.
Fully 7,000 persons had been marooned in eleven buildings.
A lake of tawny water four miles long and from one to two miles wide was swirling through Dayton and many of the streets were impenetrable even by the stoutest boats. The flood fell so rapidly, however, that nearly all parts of the city were accessible by Friday.
The waters still spread over the city with here and there a dry spot, but there was little current and skiffs have no trouble in venturing into all parts of the flooded area.
Attempts are being made to estimate the total damage to property at Dayton. It was placed between $15,000,000 and $25,000,000.
The loss from fire was not so large as at first feared from observations made through field glasses the night the fire started. It was estimated not to exceed $1,500,000.
As the waters receded the desolation became more marked. A fringe of people hovered at the edge of the flooded district. Occasionally a body floated past or was pulled to shore.
Temporary morgues were established in nearly every side street, but only a few bodies were recovered.
The rush of visitors became so great that Governor Cox was forced to issue strict orders that it stop.
Notices were posted by Colonel X. Zimmerman of the Fifth Infantry, who, by order of the governor, assumed command of the troops on duty. They read:
"The citizens of this city are requested to be of service to the National Guard by remaining in their homes, or, if out on business, remaining as far as possible from the flooded district.
"No sightseers or excursionists will be allowed to disembark in Dayton. The various railroads are requested to assist in the enforcement of this measure by refusing the sale of tickets to others than those having the most urgent business in the City of Dayton.
"The strictest sanitary regulations will be enforced and citizens are requested to do their utmost to assist in this regard.
"Violators of these orders will be promptly arrested and confined until such time as they can be tried by the proper military tribunal. Thieves, looters and robbers will be dealt with summarily."
Troops responded rapidly and four full regiments of the National Guard were on duty. Soon after the catastrophe Governor Cox declared martial law.
Ghouls and vandals came on the heels of the flood, and tacit instructions were passed to the soldiers to shoot on sight all pillagers of houses and robbers of the dead.
In some instances the vandals were so bold as to originate alarms sending people to the high ground that homes might be looted more conveniently.
"Beware of thieves and burglars," said an official bulletin. "Donít 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."
Toledo was the center through which the relief came. The first train service from the north into Dayton was established late Wednesday night and after that supplies came by trainloads.
Thousands were without homes and money. Every home in Dayton that was not swept away by the torrents was thrown open. Cities accessible by train threw open their homes to refugees. Springfield, for instance, cared for thousands who managed to get out of the devastated city.
The task of getting in provisions and clothing, water and oil for the flood sufferers was delayed by a break in the railroad track at West Liberty, where the engine and first coach of train No. 3 on the Pennsylvania went into the Mad River last Tuesday. The washing out of the bridge entails a portage of three miles. Miles of wagons trailed over the muddy roads bearing boxes of bread and tinned meats, casks of water, life-boats from Detroit and supplies of clothing.
It looked like the commissary train of an army. Farmers from neighboring sections volunteered their services and all day and night more than 200 wagons creaked over the detour, transporting supplies for Dayton, while at intervals, companies of soldiers made the three-mile march around the gap in the railroad.
As the waters were drawn off the flooded area the streets were left covered with mud and slime a foot thick. Grave fear of a pestilence was entertained from the start and every precaution possible was being taken against a spread of disease.
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