THE FLOOD AT PIQUA
The rising waters at Piqua, Ohio, situated on the Miami north of Dayton, were at first believed to have engulfed many victims, the early reports stating that the death list would reach at least 200. But scores of sensational rescues from what seemed certain death in the raging flood torrents served to limit the fatality list, which was finally placed at twenty or thereabouts. Many houses were wrecked and for several days the homeless suffered severely.
Relief measures were promptly taken by the city authorities. The property loss was great, as most of the manufacturing plants were destroyed. A company of the National Guard assisted in maintaining order in Piqua and caring for the destitute.
Two hundred and fifty houses were found in ruins and at least 2,500 persons homeless. The residence district, known as East Piqua, was devastated. Many living there trusted to the high levee, which was believed unbreakable, and remained in their homes until too late to flee.
The only direct means of communication with the rest of the state for some time was through Bradford, to which a light engine, borrowed from a Pennsylvania relief train, made almost hourly trips on Friday, March 28.
Hundreds of citizens enrolled by the Y. M. C. A. and Business Men's Association were sworn in as special deputies and assisted in caring for the sufferers. The Y. M. C. A., the city hospital and other buildings housed numbers of refugees.
Shawnee, across the river from Piqua, virtually was washed away. More than twenty houses were destroyed there.
W. W. Wood, in charge of the relief work of the Citizensí League, in a summary of conditions formulated after a thorough search of the inundated section of the city, declared that between 1,200 and 1,500 persons had been taken out of perilous places to safety and that twenty bodies were all that could be found.
Many of the rescues were made at hazardous risks of the heroic life-savers, men, women and children being taken from flood-tossed roofs, crumbling houses, tree tops and floating debris.
The water supply and lighting plant were restored to service on March 29 and three carloads of provisions for the stricken inhabitants had been received from Union City and Winchester. More provisions were necessary, however, before conditions were restored so that Piqua could take care of its own.
Though the authorities were overjoyed that their fears of a death list reaching into the hundreds were unfounded, the property loss was a staggering one for the community. Two hundred houses in Rossville, Shawnee and that part of Piqua near the canal were swept to destruction.
"The city is under martial law," said Mr. Wood on Saturday following the flood, "patrol duty being conducted by companies A and C of the Third Ohio Regiment. Relief for the suffering is being carried on with system and dispatch. In addition to the local damage the Pennsylvania bridge across the Miami is down and no mail has reached the city since the day before the flood."
Piqua, Ohio, a city of Miami County, on Miami River and the Miami and Erie Canal, in a rich agricultural section, 27 miles north of Dayton and 72 west of Columbus. It is served by a traction line from Toledo to Cincinnati and by the Pennsylvania and the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton railway. It has good water-power from the Miami and Erie Canal. Its industries include large strawboard, hosiery and woolen mills, furniture, carriage, stove and bent wood works. The American School Desk Co.ís factory is here, and also a corrugated iron works. Piqua has fine schools, churches, banks and a public library of 15,000 volumes. Population, 13,388.
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© 2001, Lynn Waterman