TWIN INFANTS’ MIRACULOUS ESCAPE
HOUSE DASHED TO PIECES—$1,000 SEALSKIN COAT SENT TO SUFFERERS BY MISTAKE—MILLIONAIRE IN BREAD LINE.
With the rapid subsiding of the flood waters and dissipating of panic among refugees at Dayton, thrilling adventures came to light. Among the most interesting of these were the experiences of the family of Charles M. Adams in Riverdale. When the flood first rushed through that section of the city Mr. Adams got his wife and 10-month-old twin girls into a skiff and took them to the home of a friend in Warder street.
An hour later it was again necessary to move and the family was taken by rescuers out of a second story window. The canoe in which they were being transported was dashed against a telegraph pole by the terrific current and capsized. Adams swam bravely in the icy water for a few minutes, when he was picked up by some men in a flat boat.
Just before he was rescued he saw his wife sink for the third time. The baby girls were floating down the street. Then he collapsed. Three hours later he regained consciousness to find himself in an attic and beside him on the floor lay his wife, whom he believed to have been drowned. A few minutes later a man crawled into the attic window from the floating roof of a barn, bringing with him the twins. They had caught in the branches of a tree and were picked off unhurt by the man, who was riding to safety on the roof. Mrs. Adams was rescued by a high school boy on a hastily improvised raft. The lad was a member of the Riverdale troop of the boy scouts and had been trained how to administer first aid to the drowning.
A family named Porter, six in number, lay in the Riverdale morgue today. They left their home on the outskirts of the city when warning of the flood was brought there. They were overwhelmed and drowned on the road, while the flood missed the home they had deserted. Harold Ridgley, a popular young man of Riverdale, lost his own life after saving thirteen families. In seeking to recover a lost oar his frail skiff tipped too much and sank. At the Van Cleve school building in Riverdale there was a $10,000 cook engaged in the inartistic task of making bean soup, coffee and sandwiches and superintending the distribution of the same. He was Arthur Stayne, chef of the leading hotel of Dayton, and he composed menus of tempting savor with French names attached, or did before the deluge. The latter carried away his home and he presided over soup and sandwiches with dignity unimpaired.
Survivors recalled that shortly before noon Tuesday watchers on the hills of Dayton View, a fashionable residence section of the city, saw a frame house float from its foundations above the Dayton View bridge across the Miami. Just before the structure reached the bridge a door opened and a man was seen to look out, shading his eyes with his hand. Beside him stood a woman and behind them in the room of the cottage, appeared another woman with a baby in her arms. The watchers shouted warnings to the man to jump into the river and take a chance of being rescued. Their cries evidently were unheard. The man closed the door. A moment later the cottage crashed into a concrete pier of the bridge and was broken into bits.
An amusing incident in connection with the receipt of relief supplies was a dispatch from Dr. McGrudder of Baltimore, addressed to Gen. Devine of the American Red Cross at Washington, and by him forwarded to Dayton, in which it was said that among the contributions of clothing from the Maryland city was a woman’s sealskin coat, valued at $1,000, which the owner’s maid had included by mistake. The coat has not been found.
Among the largest contributors to the city’s needs at a time when food was most precious were the hundreds of farmers near Dayton, who came to the outskirts of the city every day since the flood broke with wagon loads of milk, eggs, potatoes and other vegetables. It was due to this that the mortality among infants dependent entirely upon milk for sustenance was not so large.
In the bread line was Eugene J. Barney, a multimillionaire, whose gifts to charity have been very large and recently included $25,000 to the Y. M. C. A. of Dayton. He obtained three loaves of bread and a small sack of potatoes.
On the levee fronting Burns avenue a characteristic view of the havoc wrought by the flood in the residential districts was obtainable. Houses had been torn off their foundations and lay at all angles in the streets.
Trees in the boulevard, the tops of which were covered by the raging flood, were lifting mud-covered branches above the water. Some of the houses that drifted off their foundations turned over on their sides, others were nothing but masses of smashed timbers.
Into this debris men pushed their skiffs and peered into second-story windows in search of victims.
In Wayne avenue a three-story house was deposited squarely across the street. Everywhere was evidence of the freaks played by the torrent.
Measurements showed that the depth of the flood at Third and Main streets, the heart of the city, was nine feet. On Main street, the Leonard building was in ruins. It collapsed when its foundations were undermined.
Owing to the lack of wire service in the region devastated by the flood it was a week before any one could give a comprehensive story of the Dayton flood. Correspondents who got into the stricken city on the first relief trains went to Toledo to file their dispatches. On the way out they met an army of correspondents from eastern publications just going in.
Dayton is half encircled by a girdle of levee-banked rivers. It lies at the conjunction of the Miami, the Stillwater, and the Mad rivers and Wolf Creek. The water had been high for a week and more, but even Tuesday morning at 5 o’clock it was not thought the situation was menacing.
The alarm was sounded, however, and residents of the low lying sections were warned to seek shelter on the high ground. The only district which complied measurably with this advice was Riverdale. In other sections little attention was paid to the warning.
At 7 o’clock the water was still rising and many men and women gathered on the levee to watch the sight. At 9 o’clock the levee at the waterworks in the south part of the city gave way with a roar.
Spectators say that a wall of water ten feet high rushed down. Many saw the advancing wave and were able to find refuge in buildings.
The waters advanced so rapidly that a laborer in one of the coal yards started to run to high ground, but before he had gone a block the flood was above his waist.
Within an hour the water was nine or ten feet in the business section and 17,000 were marooned in the downtown buildings.
The water rose steadily until 10 o’clock at night, when the crest of the wave passed.
Three large oil tanks burst, flooding the flood with a surface of oil.
The water rushed through the streets with the velocity of a mill race, sweeping buildings off their foundations and submerging the tops of trees.
In some of the lowest-lying sections the water was thirty-five feet deep and people were forced to take refuge on the tops of houses.
At that time the water covered an area of twelve square miles.
The breaking of the water power dam, it is urged by many who have studied the question, would not release the enormous quantity that flooded the city. The theory was that the flow was increased either by a break in one of the reservoirs in the Miami Valley or by an overflow. To the north of the city are three great artificial lakes used as feeders for the old Miami and Erie Canal.
The Celina, or Grand, reservoir in Auglaze and Mercer counties is said to be the largest artificial body of water in the world. It is more than twelve miles long and covers 17,500 acres. To the northeast is the great Lewiston reservoir in Logan county, while to the west of this is the Laramie reservoir. Both the Celina and Lewiston reservoirs were patrolled during the flood, and no break has occurred in either.
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