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TIFFIN HIT HARD BY FLOOD
November 29, 1985


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Pix #1 - Site of Axline and Calhoun homes on water streeet. Two people met death in the former when it was swept away, Wednesday March 26.

Pix #2 - Ruins of three-story business block (Riverside-Noble) from which seven people were rescued, via telephone cable, tem minutes before building collapsed. Steel wreckage of bridge in foreground.

Pix #3 - Ruins at rear of Standard Garage, E. Perry Street, showing site, at the left of Dr. C.T. Benner residence which was swept away.

Pix #4 - Crowd viewing rescue of guests from Shawhan hotel, South Washington and Perry streets.

Author's Note: This is the last in a series of articles about the 1913 flood which played havoc with communities all over Ohio. Today's article is about Tiffin, which suffered more devastation and loss of life than Fremont. sometimes in the future, this column will tell about the flood which struck Johnston, N.Y.

Tiffin became a city of sorrow and desolation, paralyzed and grief-stricken, with a loss of 50 lives and a property loss close to $1,000,000. The eletric light, water and gas plants were out of commission and the city was in darkness.

The first to die were: Mr. and Mrs. W.D. Axline: Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kenecht and five children; Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Klinghrin and seven children; and John Canty.

When the Axline residence was picked up by the flood and started careening down the river watchers saw Axline and his wife standing in the window of the second story. Her head was pillowed on his shoulder. The cries of the wife could be heard above the rushing water.

Axline patted his wife on the back and kissed her. A moment later the house crashed into the Baltimore and Ohio Bridge. It was splintered like a bundle of sticks. With their arms about each other, husband and wife disappeared beneath the raging waters.

When the home of Jacob Kenecht was swept away Mrs. Kenecht and her five children were in the dwelling. Kenecht was outside. When he was picked up by the current he grabbed the limb of a tree. He held on for 15 minutes. Rescuers attempted to throw him a line. Each time the widly running water held the rope within a few inches of his outstretched arms.

Finally exhausted and numbed by the cold, Kenecht gave up the fight against death. "Thanks, good-bye boys, I'm..." His last words were swallowed by the water that engulfed him.

TIFFIN TAKEN BY SURPRISE

Because the high water mark of her greatest previous flood, that of 1883, had always been generally conceded to be the limit to the height the water would attain in this section, the people living in the lowlands of the inundated portion of the city believed they were doing all that was necessary when they carried their household goods from the first to the second floors.

Many residing in the higher localities did not, until too late, realize the need of removing their personal effects. The danger of remaining in their homes did not occur to many until the rapidly rising waters swirled about them in such torrents, making it impossible to escape, or for others to come to their rescue.

In the progress of Tiffin's growth the original banks of the river had been so encroached upon as to considerably narrow the channel and make it entirely inadequate to carry off the enormous volume of water which drained into it.

That together with the sharp bends in the stream at this point, caused the raging torrent to seek a new outlet, which it did, completely surprising those in its path.

Stunned to seeming helplessness by the awful calamity, people stood about in horrified groups viewing the work of destruction, while such as could collected their scattered sences heroically figured in the work of rescue.

After two days the water began to recede and the city was placed under the protection of a military guard, and the victims of the flood took up the work of restoration of their property.

'SAILOR JACK" SAVED MANY FROM DEATH

Until Monday morning, "Sailor Jack" Willis was an inconspicuous character in Tiffin. He became the city's hero. He took charge of the rescue work. The life-saving baskets and cables were made and operated under his orders. By stretching cables to a water-surrounded house, the occupants, one by one, were brought to places of safety.

"Sailor Jack" personally saved 10 people. And after 60 hours of work with no rest, he dropped exhausted.

Regina Moltrie, a school teacher climbed a telephone pole when the flood struck her home. On her hands and knees, she crawled 50 feet above the rushing water across heavy cable to linemen.

FIVE RESCUED IN A BASKET

Seneca County Treasurer W.O. Heckert, his wife, and three children were taken out of their home in a huge basket suspended to a cable.

A life-line was swung for a block and half to save County Surveyor Charles Peters, his wife and child. The family relayed from building to building. Sixteen people marooned in the Bonette Hotel were taken out in baskets, as were 10 girls, employees of amitten factory.

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