Armourdale, KS Flood, May 1903

Flood Situation in the Kaw Valley Hourly Becomes Worse.
School Houses Opened to Receive Refugees — Missouri and Kaw Still Rising.

The official reading of the government gauge at the Missouri river at 10 a.m. to-day was 26.3 feet above low water mark, against 23.3 at the same hour yesterday. …

The city of Armourdale, that had yesterday a population of 16,000 people, is to-day overflowed and almost depopulated. Its houses stand in a lake. Its streets are rivers upon which boats ply. Ten thousand people there and in Argentine and vicinity are homeless to-day. Nearly 10,000 men, many of whom live in Missouri, are thrown out of work by the flooding of all the packing houses and factories in Armourdale and the railroad yards and shops in Argentine. The schoolhouses of Armstrong, Riverview and Wyandotte are full of refugees in pitiful condition. All this forenoon a steady stream of flood stricken men, women and children tramped across the Seventh street viaduct and along Fifth street, leaving behind their homes and household goods, going toward high ground that no flood could touch. It was a pathetic procession of saddened, drawn and tear-stained faces. Some even were barefooted.

The inrush of water was so sudden that they barely escaped alive. Some did not escape. One man, it is known, was drowned. There were rumors of other deaths, all of them unconfirmed. But it must be that lives were lost in this flood that overswept a city in a night. It came unexpectedly and at a dark hour when the skies were black with thunder clouds and rain was falling. Many a family awoke in the black night to hear the current lapping at the door, and leaped from bed into a pool of water. Many a mother awoke to find her baby’s crib awash. Hundreds of families in the night were taken out of upstairs windows. Everywhere they turned was the black water flowing swiftly, creeping steadily up.

Thousands knew not which way to turn. They run aimlessly, filled with fright, seeking only a dry spot and safety. Women with babies crouched under wagons and in old sheds, in empty box cars and under the railroad coal chutes, shivering, listening to the pattering rain and the cold, cruel wash of the rising waters, waiting for morning and daylight.

When daylight came it was worse than even they expected. And the water was yet rising. It rose steadily all to-day and will continue to rise. No one knows when it will stop. The weather man predicts more rain and a yet higher flood in the Kaw and the Missouri rivers. His forecast is that the Missouri river will exceed the flood of 1881, when it arose 26.3 above low water mark.

Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO 30 May 1903

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