Daytonians spent a fearful first night after the flood only to face, the day after, a terrible new menace: fire.
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To learn more about the flood:
Watch WHIO-TV chief meteorologist Jamie Simpson and reporter Jim Otte’s special report on the Great Dayton Flood of 1913 at http://youtu.be/rFYH9xINZ_Y
Watch hour-long 2005 Think TV documentary, Goodbye, the Levee has broken, at http://video.thinktv.org/video/1434869494
“A Flood of Memories,” published by The Miami Conservancy District, with modern photography by Andy Snow, 2013
“The Great Dayton Flood of 1913,” by Trudy Bell, 2008, published as part of the Images of America Series
“Through Flood, Through Fire: Personal Stories From Survivors of the Dayton Flood of 1913,” by Curt Dalton, 2001
“A Time of Terror,” by Allan Eckert, 1965, Little Brown. A non-fiction retelling of the flood that is written like a novel.
“Promises in the Attic,” by Elisabeth Hamilton Friermood, 1960, a young adult novel about Ginger O’Neal and her family, who are stranded in the attic during the 1913.
Follow the series: 100 years after the Great Dayton Flood
Sunday: An overview of the causes and events surrounding the historic flood.
Monday: The Dayton Daily News follows the events of March 25 through the written accounts of survivors, including the story of 104-year-old Margaret Kender, now living in Florida.
Today: Flood survivors face new dangers as gas explosions rock the city.
Wednesday: Survivors remain stranded in their attics and on their rooftops, not knowing when rescue might come. Snowfall is a blessing because it extinguishes fires throughout the city.
Thursday: The water starts to recede and some victims are able to leave their homes and begin the massive task of rebuilding.
Timeline for the Great Dayton Flood
March 26, 1913:
2 a.m.: the Great Miami River crested at 29 feet.
9 a.m.: The Steele High School Tower at Monument and Main collapses into the water.
10:20 a.m.: The first telegraph lines open at NCR. The first telegram is sent to Gov. James M. Cox from his secretary, George Burba: “Situation in Dayton very bad.”
Noon: Ruptured gas lines spark fires across the city.
Midday: The river begins to drop slowly from its 29-foot crest.
6:55 p.m.: Col. Charles Zimmerman arrives at NCR with 100 National Guardsmen, the first of the 1,000 who will see duty under martial law.
In her own words
Dayton librarian Minnie Althoff described a sleepless first night in the library, plagued by “the intense cold, the boom and roar of the water, greater than Niagara it seemed.” Even less conducive to a good night’s sleep was the constant fear of fire, especially after the building was nearly struck by an immense oil tank Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon, Althoff wrote, “another terrific report shook our building, until it seemed every window must be broken. Another corner had collapsed, the drug store, and a tiny flame not larger than a candle light was noticed. Immediately we saw men rush to the edge of the adjoining tall building with ropes, which they threw over. Seven people scrambled from the fallen building, deftly caught the ropes and were hauled to the roof. The fire spread and waged wildly, burning its way for two blocks to the water’s edge. The contents of the wholesale liquor stores, paint stores and drug stores exploded, burned and sent the flames higher. Our second night was light as day.”