CHAPTER XXVII

     Upon a pretty little plateau two hundred feet above the waters of Stony Creek, and directly in front of a slender foot-bridge which leads into Kernsville, stands a group of tents which represents the first effort of any national organization to give material sanitary aid to the unhappy survivors of Johnstown.
     It is in the camp of the American National Association of the Red Cross, and is under the direction of that noble woman, Miss Clara Barton of Washington, the President of the organization in this country. The camp is not more than a quarter of a mile from the scene of operations in this place, and, should pestilence attend upon the horrors of the flood, this assembly of trained nurses and veteran physicians will be known all over the land. That an epidemic of some sort will come, there seems to be no question. The only thing which can avert it is a successions of cool days, a possibility which is very remote.
     Miss Barton, as soon as she heard of the catastrophe, started preparations for opening headquarters in this place. By Saturday morning she had secured a staff, tents, supplies, and all the necessary appurtenances of her work, and at once started on the Baltimore and Ohio Road. She arrived here on Tuesday morning, and pitched her tents near Stony Creek. This was, however, a temporary choice, for soon she removed her camp to the plateau upon which it will remain until all need for Miss Barton will have passed. with her came Dr. John B. Hubbell, field agent; erstein, messenger, and a corps of fifteen physicians and four trained female nurses, under the direction of Dr. O'Neill, of Philadelphia.
     Upon their arrival they at once established quartermaster and kitchen departments, and in less than three hours these divisions were fully equipped for work. Then when the camp was formally opened on the plateau there were one large hospital tent, capable of accommodating forty persons, four smaller tents to give aid to twenty persons each, and four still smaller ones which will hold ten patients each. Then Miss Barton organized a house-to-house canvass by her corps of doctors, and began to show results almost immediately.
     The first part of the district visited was Kernsville. There great want and much suffering were discovered and promptly relieved. Miss Barton says that in most of the houses which were visited were several persons suffering from nervous prostration in the most aggravated form, many cases of temporary insanity being discovered, which, if neglected, would assume chronic conditions. There were a large number of persons, too, who were bruised by their battling on the borders of the flood, and were either ignorant or too broken spirited to endeavor to aid themselves in any particular. The majority of these were not sufficiently seriously hurt to require removal from the homes to the camp, and so were given medicines and practical, intelligent advice how to use them.
     There were fifteen persons, however, who were removed from Kernsville and from a district known as the Brewery, on the extreme east of Johnstown. Three of the number were women and were sadly bruised. One man, Caspar Walthaman, a German operative at the Cambria Iron Works, was the most interesting of all. He lived in a little frame house within fifty yards of the brewery. When the flood came his house was lifted from its foundations and was tossed about like a feather in a gale, until it reached a spot about on a line with Washington Street. There the man's life as saved by a great drift, which completely surrounded the house, and which forced the structure against the Prospect Hill shore, where the shock wrecked it. Walthaman was sent flying through the air, and landed n his right side on the water-soaked turf. Fortunately the turf was soft and springy with the moisture and Walthaman had enough consciousness left to crawl up the hillside, and then sank into unconsciousness. At ten o'clock Saturday morning some friends found him. He was taken to their home in Kernsville. He was scarcely conscious when found, and before he had been in a place of safety an hour he had lost his mind, the reaction was so great. his hair had turned quire white, and the places where before the disaster his hair had been most abundant, on the sides of his head, were completely denuded of it. His scalp was as smooth as an apple-cheek. The physicians who removed him to the Red Cross Hospital declared the case as the most extraordinary one resulting from fright that had ever come under their observation. Miss Barton declares her belief that not one of the persons who are now under treatment is seriously injured, and is confident they will recover in a few days.
     Her staff was reinforced by Mrs. and Dr. Gardner, of Bedford, who, during the last great Western floods, rendered most excellent assistance to the sufferers. Both are members of the Relief Association. The squad of physicians and nurses was further added to by more from Philadelphia, and then Miss Barton thought she was prepared to cope with anything in the way of sickness that might arise.
     The appearance of the tents and the surroundings are exceedingly inviting. Everything is exquisitely neat, the boards of the tent-floors being almost as white as the snowy linen of the cots. This contrast to the horrible filth of the town, with its fearful stenches and its dead-paved streets, is so invigorating that it has become a place of refuge to all who are compelled to remain here.
     The hospital is an old rink on the Bedford pike, which has been transformed into an inviting retreat. Upon entering the door the visitor finds himself in a small ante-room, to one side of which is attached the general consulting-room. On the other side, opposite the hall, is the apothecary's department, where the prescriptions are filled as carefully as they would be at a first-class druggist's. In the rear of the medical department and of the general consultation-room are the wards. There are two of them-one for mails and the other for females. A long, high, heavy curtain divides the wards, and insures as much privacy as the most modest person would wish. Around the walls in both wards are ranged the regulation hospital beds, with plenty of clean and comfortable bed-clothes.
     Patients in the hospital said they couldn't be better treated if they were paying the physician for their attendance. The trained nurses of the Red Cross Society carefully look after the wants of the sick and injured, and see that they get everything they wish. People who have an abhorrence of going into these hospitals need have no fear that they will not be well treated.
     The orphans of the flood-sadly few there are of them, for it was the children that usually went down first, not the parent-are looked after by the Pennsylvania Children's Aid Society, which has transferred its headquarters for the time being from Philadelphia to this city, There was a thriving branch of this society here before the flood, but of all its officers and executive force two-only are alive. Fearing such might be the situation, the general officers of the society sent out on the first available train Miss H. E. Hancock, one of the directors, and Miss H. W. Hinckley, the Secretary. They arrived on Thursday morning, and within thirty minutes had an office open in a little cottage just above the water-line in the upper part of the city. Business was ready as soon as the office, and there were about fifty children looked after before evening. In most cases these were children with relatives of friends in or near Johnstown, and the society's work has been to identify the and restore them to their friends.
     As soon as the society opened its office all cases in which children were involved were sent at once to them, and their efforts have been of great benefit in systematizing the care of the children who are left homeless. Besides this, there are many orphans who have been living in the families of neighbors since the flood, but for whom permanent homes must be found. One family has cared for one hundred and fifty-seven children saved from the flood, and nearly as many are staying with other families. There will be no difficulty about providing for these little ones. The society already has offers for the taking of as many are as are likely to be in need of a home.
     The Rev. Morgan Dix, on behalf of the Leake and Watts Orphan Home in New York, has telegraphed an offer to care for seventy-five orphans. Pittsburg is proving itself generous in this as in all other matters relating to the flood, and other places all over the country are telegraphing offers of homes for the homeless. Superintendent Pierson, of the Indianapolis Natural Gas Company, has asked for two; Cleveland wants some; Altoona would like a few; Apollo, Pa., has vacancies the orphans can fill, and scores of other small places are sending in similar offers and requests. A queer thing is that many of the officers are restricted by curious provisions as to the religious belief of the orphans. The Rev. Dr. Griffith, for instance, of Philadelphia, says that the Angora (Pa.) Home would like some orphans, "especially Baptist ones," and Father Field of Philadelphia, offers to look after a few Episcopal waifs.
     The work of the society here has been greatly assisted by the fact that Miss Maggie Brooks, formerly Secretary of the local society here, but living in Philadelphia at the time of the flood, has come here to assist the general officers. Her acquaintance with the town is invaluable.
     Johnstown is generous in its mercy. Whatever it has left it gives freely to the strangers who have come here. It is not much, but is shows a good spirit. There are means by which Johnstown people might reap a rich harvest by taking advantage of the necessities of strangers. It is necessary, for instance, to use boats in getting about the place, and men in light skiffs are poling about the streets all day taking passengers from place to place. Their services are free. They not only do not, but will not accept any fee. J. D. Haws & Son own large brick-kilns near the bridge. The newspaper men have possession of one of the firm's buildings and one of the firm spends most of his time in running about trying to make the men comfortable. A room in one of the firm's barns filled with straw has been set apart solely for the newspaper men, who sleep there wrapped in blankets as comfortably as in beds. There is no charge for this, although those who have tried one night on the floors, sand-piles, and other usual dormitories of the place, would willingly pay high for the use of the straw. Food for the newspaper and telegraph workers has been hard to get except in crude form. Canned corned beef, eaten with a stick for a fork, and dry crackers were the staples up to Tuesday, when a house up the hill was discovered were anybody who came was welcome to the best the house afforded. There was no sugar for the coffee, no vinegar for the lettuce, and the apple butter ran out before the siege was raised, but the defect was in the circumstances of Johnstown, and not in the will of the family.
     "How much?" was asked at the end of the meal.
     They were poor people. The man probably earns a dollar a day.
     "Oh!" replied the woman, who was herself cook, waiter, and lady of the house, "we don't charge anything in times like these. You see, I went out and spent ten dollars for groceries at a place that wasn't washed away right after the flood, and we've been living on that ever since. Of course we don't ask any of the relief, not being washed out. You men are welcome to all I can give."
     She had seen the last of her ten dollars worth of provisions gobbled up without a murmur, and yet didn't "charge anything in times like there," Her scruples did not, however, extend so far as to refusing tenders of coin, inasmuch as without it her larder would stay empty. She filled it up last night, and the news of the place having spread, she has been getting a continual meal from five in the morning until late at night. Although she makes no charge, her income would make a regular restaurant keeper dizzy.
     So far as the Signal Service is concerned, the amount of rainfall in the region drained by the Conemaugh River cannot be ascertained. Mrs. H. M. Ogle, who had been the Signal Service representative in Johnstown for several years and also manager of the Western Union office there, telegraphed at eight o'clock Friday morning to Pittsburg that the river marked fourteen feet, rising; a rise of thirteen feet in twenty-four hours. At eleven o'clock she wired: "River twenty feet and rising, higher than ever before; water in first floor. Have moved to second. River gauges carried away. Rainfall, two and three-tenth inches." At twenty-seven minutes to one P.M. Mrs. Ogle wired: "At this hour north wind; very cloudy; water still rising."
     Nothing more was heard from her by the bureau, but at the Western Union office at Pittsburg later in the afternoon she commenced to tell an operator that the dam had broken, that a flood was coming, and before she had finished the conversation a singular click of the instrument announced the breaking of the current. A moment afterward the current of her life was broken forever.
     Sergeant Stewart, in charge of the Pittsburg bureau, says that the fall of water on the Conemaugh shed at Johnstown up to the time of the flood was probably two and five-tenth inches. He believes it was much heavier in the mountains. The country drained by the little Conemaugh and Stony Creek covers an area of about one hundred square miles. The bureau, figuring on this basis and two and five-tenth inches of rainfall, finds that four hundred and sixty-four million six hundred and forty thousand cubic feet of water was precipitated toward Johnstown in its last hours. This is independent of the great volume of water in the lake, which was not less than two hundred and fifty million cubic feet.
     It is therefore easily seen that there was ample water to cover the Conemaugh Valley to the depth of from ten to twenty-five feet. Such a volume of water was never known to fall in that country at the same time.
     Colonel T. P. Roberts, a leading engineer, estimates that the lake drained twenty-five square miles, and gives some interesting data on the probable amount of water in contained. He says: "The dam, as I understand, was from hill to hill, about one thousand feet long and about eighty-five feet high at the highest point. The pond covered above seven hundred acres, at least for the present I will assume that to be the case. We are told also that there was a waster-weir at one end seventy-five feet wide and ten feet below the comb or top of the dam. Now we are told that with the weir open and discharging freely to the utmost of its capacity, nevertheless the pond or lake rose ten inches per hour until finally it overflowed the top, and, as I understand, the dam broke by being eaten away at the top.
     "Thus we have the elements for very simple calculation as to the amount of water precipitated by the flood, provided these premises are accurate. To raise seven hundred acres of water to a height of ten feet would require about three hundred million cubic feet of water, and while this was rising the waste-weir would discharge an enormous volume-it would be difficult to say just how much without a full knowledge of the shape of its side-walls, approaches, and outlets-but if the rise required ten hours the waste-weir would have discharged perhaps ninety million cubic feet. We would then have a total of flood water of three hundred and ninety million cubic feet. This would indicate a rainfall of about eight inches over the twenty-five square miles. As that much does not appear to have fallen at the hotel and dam it is more than likely that even more than eight inches was precipitated in places farther up. These figures I hold tentatively, but I am much inclined to believe that there was a cloud burst."
     Of course, the Johnstown disaster, great as it was, was by no means the greatest flood in history, since Noah's Deluge. The greatest of modern floods was that which, resulted from the overflow of the great Houng-Ho, or Yellow River, in 1887. This river, which has earned the title of "China's Sorrow," has always been the cause of great anxiety to the Chinese Government and to the inhabitants of the country through which it flows. It is guarded with the utmost care at great expense, and annually vast sums are spent in repairs of its banks. In October, 1887, a number of serious breaches occurred in the river's banks about three hundred miles from the coast. As a result the river deserted its natural bed and spread over a thickly-populated plain, forcing for itself finally an entire new road to the sea. Four or five times in two thousand years the great river had changed its bed, and each time the change had entailed great loss of life and property.
     In 1852 it burst through its banks two hundred and fifty miles from the sea and cut a new bed through the northern part of Shaptung into the Gulf of Pechili. The isolation in which foreigners lived at that time in China prevented their obtaining any information as to the calamitous results of this change, but in 1887 many of the barriers against foreigners had been removed and a general idea of the character of the inundation was easily obtainable.
     For several weeks preceding the actual overflow of its banks the Hoang-Ho had been swollen from its tributaries. It had been unusually wet and stormy in northwest China, and all the small streams were full and overflowing. The first break occurred in the province of Honan, of which the capital is Kaifeng, and the city next in importance is Ching or Cheng-Chou. The latter is forty miles west of Kaifeng and a short distance above a bend in the Hoang-Ho. At this bend the stream is borne violently against the south shore. For ten days a continuous rain had been soaking the embankments, and a strong wind increased the already great force of the current. Finally a breach was made. At first it extended only for a hundred yards. The guards made frantic efforts to close the gap, and were assisted by the frightened people in the vicinity. But the breach grew rapidly to a width of twelve hundred yards, and through this the river rushed with awful force. Leaping over the plain with incredible velocity, the water merged into a small stream called the Lu-chia. Down the valley of the Lu-chia, the torrent poured in an easterly direction, overwhelming everything in its path.
     Twenty miles from Cheng-Chou it encountered Chungmou, a walled city of the third rank. Its thousands of inhabitants were attending to their usual pursuits. There was no telegraph to warn them, and the first intimation of disaster came with the muddy torrent that rolled down upon them. Within a short time only the tops of the high walls marked where a flourishing city had been. Three hundred villages in the district disappeared utterly and the lands about three hundred other villages were inundated.
     The flood turned south from Chungmou, still keeping to the course of the Lu-chia, and stretched out in width for thirty miles. This vast body of water was from ten to twenty feed deep. Several miles south of Kaifeng the flood struck a large river which there joins the Lu-chia. The result was that the flood rose to a still greater height, and, pouring into a low-lying and very fertile plain which was densely populated, submerged upward of one thousand five hundred villages.
     Not far beyond this locality the flood passed into the province of Anhui, where it spread very widely. The actual loss of life could not be computed accurately, but the lowest intelligent estimate placed it at one million five hundred thousand, and one authority fixed it at seven million. Two million people were rendered destitute by the flood, and the suffering that resulted was frightful. Four months later the inundated provinces were still under the muddy waters. The government officials who were on guard when the Hoang-Ho broke its banks were condemned to severe punishment, and were placed in the pillory in spite of their pleadings that they had done their best to avert the disaster.
     The inundation which may be classes as the second greatest in modern history occurred in Holland in 1530. There have been many floods in Holland, nearly all due to the failure of the dikes, which form the only barrier between it and the sea. In 1530 there was a general failure of the dikes, and the sea poured in upon the low lands. The people were as unprepared as were the victims of the Johnstown disaster. Good authorities place the number of human beings that perished in this flood at about four hundred thousand, and the destruction of property was in proportion.

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     In April, 1421, the River Meuse broke in the dikes at Dort, or Dordrecht, an ancient town in the peninsula of South Holland, situated on an island. Ten thousand persons perished there and more than one hundred thousand in the vicinity. In January, 1861, there was a disastrous flood in Holland, the area sweeping over forty thousand acres, and leaving thirty thousand villages destitute, and again in 1876 severe losses resulted from inundations in this country.
     The first flood in Europe of which history gives any authentic account occurred in Lincolnshire, England, A. D. 245, when the sea passed over many thousands of acres. In the year 353 a flood in Cheshire destroyed three thousand human lives and many cattle. Four hundred families were drowned in Glasgow by an overflow of the Clyde in 758. A number of English seaport towns were destroyed by an inundation in 1014. In 1483 a terrible overflow of the Severn, which came at night and lasted for ten days, covered the tops of mountains. men, women, and children were carried from their beds and drowned. The waters settled on the lands and were called for one hundred years after the Great Waters.
     A flood in Catalonia, a province of Spain, occurred in 1617, and fifty thousand persons lost their lives. One of the most curious inundations in history, and one that was looked upon at the time as a miracle, occurred in Yorkshire, England in 1686. A large rock was split asunder by some hidden force, and water spouted out, the stream reaching as high as a church steeple. In 1771 another flood, known as the Ripon flood, occurred in the same province.
     In September, 1687, mountain torrents inundated Navarre, and two thousand persons were drowned. Twice, in 1787 and in 1802, the Irish Liffey overran its banks and caused great damage. A reservoir in Lurca, a city of Spain, burst in 1802, in much the same way as did the dam at Johnstown, and as a result one thousand persons perished. Twenty-four villages near Presburg, and nearly all their inhabitants, were swept away in April, 1811, by an overflow of the Danube. Two years later large provinces in Austria and Poland were flooded, and many lives were lost. In the same year a force of two thousand Turkish soldiers, who were stationed on a small island near Widdin, were surprised by a sudden overflow of the Danube and all were drowned. There were two more floods in this year, on in Silesia, where six thousand persons perished, and the French army met such lasses and privations that its ruin was accelerated; and another in Poland, where four thousand persons were supposed to have been drowned. In 1816 the melting of the snow on the mountains surrounding Strabane, Ireland, caused destructive floods, and the overflow of the Vistula in Germany laid many villages under water. Floods that occasioned great suffering occurred in 1829, when severe rains caused the Spey and Findhorn to rise fifty feet above their ordinary level. The following year the Danube again overflowed its banks and inundated the houses of fifty thousand inhabitants of Vienna. The Saone overflowed in 1840, and poured its turbulent waters into the Rhine, causing a flood which covered sixty thousand acres. Lyons was flooded, one hundred houses were swept away at Avignon, two hundred and eighteen at La Guillotiere, and three hundred at Vaise, Marseilles, and Nimes. Another great flood, entailing much suffering, occurred in the south of France in 1856.
     A flood in Mill River valley in 1874 was caused by the bursting of a badly constructed dam. The waters poured down upon the villages in the valley much as at Johnstown, but the people received warning in time, and the torrent was not so swift. Several villages were destroyed and one hundred and forty-four persons drowned. The rising of the Garonne in 1875 caused the death of one thousand persons near Toulouse, and twenty thousand persons were made homeless in India by floods in the same year. In 1882 heavy floods destroyed a large amount of property and drowned many persons in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys.
     The awful disaster in the Conemaugh Valley calls attention to the fact that there are many similar dams throughout the United States. Though few of these overhang a narrow gorge like the one in which the borough of Johnstown reposed, there is no question that several of the dams now deemed safe would, if broken down by a sudden freshet, sweep down upon peaceful hamlets, cause immense damage to property and loss of life. The lesson taught by the awful scenes at Johnstown should not go unheeded.
     Croton Lake Dam was first built with ninety feet of masonry overfall, the rest being earth embankment. On January 7th, 1841, a freshet carried away this earth embankment, and when rebuilt the overfall of the dam was made two hundred and seventy feet long. The foundation is two lines of cribs, filled with dry stone, and ten feet of concrete between. Upon this broken range stone masonry was laid, the down-stream side being curved and faced with granite, the whole being baked with a packing of earth. The dam is forty feet high, its top is one hundred and sixty-six feet above tidewater, and it controls a reservoir area of four hundred acres and five hundred million gallons 9of water. The Boyd's Corner Dam holds two million seven hundred and twenty seven thousand gallons, and was built during the years 1866 and 1872. It stands twenty-three miles from the Croton dam, and has cut-stone faces filled between with concrete. The extreme height is seventy-eight feet, and it is six hundred and seventy feet long. Although this dam holds a body of water five times greater than that at Croton Lake, it is claimed by engineers that should it give way the deluge of water which would flow would cause very little loss of life and only destroy farming lands, as below it the country is comparatively level and open. Middle Branch dam holds four billion four hundred thousand gallons, and was built during 1874 and 1878. It is composed of earth, with a centre of rubble masonry carried down to the rock bottom. It is also considered to be in no danger of causing destruction by sudden breakage, as the downpour of water would spread out over a large area of level land. Besides these there are other Croton water storage basins formed by dams as follows: East Branch, with a capacity of 4,500,000,000 gallons; Lake Mahopac, 575,000,000 gallons; Lake Kirk, 565,000,000 gallons; Lake Gleneida, 165,000,000 gallons; Lake Gilead, 380,000,000 gallons; Lake Waccabec, 200,000,000 gallons; Lake Lonetta, 50,000,000 gallons; Barrett's ponds, 170,000,000 gallons; China pond, 105,000,000 gallons; White pond, 100,000,000 gallons; Pinees pond, 75,000,000 gallons; Long pong, 60,000,000 gallons; Peach pond, 230,000,000 gallons; Cross pond, 110,000,000 gallons, and Haines pond, 125,000,000 gallons, thus completing the storage capacity of the Croton water system of 14,000,000,000 gallons. The engineers claim that none of these last-named could cause loss of life or any great damage to property, because there exist abundant natural outlets.
     At Whitehall, N. G., there is a reservoir created by a dam three hundred and twenty feet long across a valley half a mile from the village and two hundred and sixty-six feet above it. A break in this dam would release nearly six million gallons, and probably sweep away the entire town. Norwich, N. Y., is supplied by an earthwork dam, with centre puddle-wall, three hundred and twenty-three feet long and forty feet high. It imprisons thirty million gallons and stands one hundred and eighty feet above the village. At an elevation of two hundred and fifty feed above the town of Olean N.Y., stands an embankment holding in check two million, five hundred thousand gallons. Oneida, N. Y., is supplied by a reservoir formed by a dam across a stream which controls twenty-two million, three hundred and fifty thousand gallons. The dam is nearly three miles from the village and at an altitude of one hundred and ninety feet above it. Such are some of the reservoirs which threaten other communities of our fair land.


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