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Guthrie, Oklahoma Flood

April 29, 1897


Thought That The List of Dead Will Not Exceed Twenty-Five.


Two Thousand People Along the Line of the Flood Homeless and Penniless Much Suffering During the Night -- Besides Those Known to Be Dead, Many Are Missing.

Guthrie, Okla., April 29.
--- Daylight in the Collonwood valley found dozens of people still clinging to trees, overturned houses, or timbers, in positions which they had maintained all during the weary night. Here and there positions know to have been occupied when darkness came on last night were empty this morning, and the conclusion to be drawn was that the luckless victims had dropped into the river during the night. For miles along the scene of devastation 2000 people homeless and suffering from exposure and hunger, passed the miserable night, and morning found most of them too weak to be of much assistance either to themselves or others.

During the night the water had receded rapidly, and the work of rescue was more easy this morning. When darkness stopped further rescue last evening, every available man went to work to fix up rafts for use today, and when the first light of day broke, small parties started out from different points and began transporting people from their terrible positions to land. The scene of the flooded district this morning was one of demoralization.

The river is still bank full, but the water has receeded [sic] from most of the inundated districts. This morning most of the missing people have been found, wither clinging to bushes and driftwood in the stream, or scattered in the various farm houses for miles around. It is now believed that the death list will not exceed twenty-five. The only bodies found this morning are those of MRS. FANNIE RAFFIN and five children, all lost in a pile of driftwood. These, with GEORGE OWEN, a butcher drowned while rescuing others, MRS. FRANK MYERS, MRS. ELLA DUMAS, MRS. JAMES WATT, MRS. FRANCIS MOORE, MRS. DRUMMOND, MRS. DENNIS and child, and MRS. WATSON, are the only ones know to have been drowned, although fifty or more are still reported missing.

Five hundred homes were swept away and their contents ruined, and one hundred and fifty houses were wrecked. Twenty streets were devastated a thousand people are homeless, and half as many more are destitute.

Systematic relief is now being carried on, and ferries are being worked across the river, so that supplies and clothing can be sent to all.

It is now certain that the flood was caused by a cloudburst about twenty miles up the valley, and everything was swept before it. Had it come two hours earlier, one thousand people must have perished, but not reaching the city until nearly 7 o'clock, and a general alarm preceding, the majority were able to escape to high land.
The banks of the river today are littered with the carcases of horses, pigs and chickens. Among these the people are searching for human bodies. Every house, scrap pile and tree is being examined to see if they contain any dead. It will probably take a week to accurately tell the number of lives lost. Many bodies are believed to be under the surface weighed down by timbers and wrecked houses and bridges. Fifteen hundred people were fed and sheltered last night, and additional relief committees were formed today. The sun is shining brightly today, and wheat fields have gradually been straightening up, and it is thought that many will be partially saved.

Aspen Weekly Times Colorado 1897-05-01

Submitted & transcribed by Stu Beitler  Thank you, Stu!


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