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In the memory of the oldest inhabitants no previous rain fall has ever equalled that which descended upon the Woodlawn and New Sheffield districts on Sunday night last.
It seemed that the heavens simply opened and the waters came down not only in drops or sheets but in torrents. One life and thousands of dollars of damages were the toll it took.
At Woodlawn the water commenced to overflow the sewers and to run down Franklin Avenue, the main thoroughfare at 9:30 Sunday night and in a half hour it was two and a half feet deep and running like a river.
Merchants and residents along the street rushed to save their goods but in an incredibly short time every basement was filled and the murkey flood was depositing filth on the first floor and damaging and destroying thousands of dollars worth of goods.
To add to the confusion the gas company feared that their pipes would be severed in places and that explosions would follow and the gas was turned off, leaving the people to flounder around in the darkness.
Hundreds of people were wading around in the water knee deep. The waters however subsided almost as quickly as they had risen but the sun rose yesterday morning on a scene not pleasing to look upon. Mud an inch or two deep covered streets, sidewalks and store floors, and vacant lots were miniature lakes.
At first it was thought that the damage would run up to a quarter a million but closer investigation today showed that it was not nearly so heavy as anticipated and many had suffered practically no loss aside from the work of cleaning up.
The saddest feature of the affair was the loss of one life. Wm. D. Hindman, aged 44. Mr. Hindman was a fireman in the employ of the A. & S. Railroad and had a furnished room in the basement of the Woodlawn Steam Laundry building.
The story of his futile efforts to reach safety will never be told.
The following morning, he failed to report to Mrs. Kelley's restaurant, his boarding place, for breakfast and his friends became alarmed. They telephoned Mr. Gano, who stated that he had not reported for duty. A pump was then secured and the water pumped from the basement where the body was discovered. He had on his trousers and underwear and his friends think that he had been aroused by the water entering his room, had gotten up from bed, pulled on his trousers and started for the door, which led into the alleyway. The door had evidently acted as a dam but when opened the water had struck him with such force as to force him back.
There is an inside door leading to the story above and he had evidently tried to find it but in the darkness became confused.
The body was taken to Hornstein's morgue and prepared for burial.
Mr. Hindman had been in Woodlawn three years. He was born at Nebo Church, Acamae, Co. Va., February 8, 1867.
He is survived by his wife and one son. In a notebook was written that in case of accident "notify Mrs. G. A. Hindman, 3637 Cedar Avenue, Baltimore."
The financial damage was fixed this morning by competent judges at $150,000.
The Pittsburgh Mercantile Co. was the heaviest loser. Their huge basement contained their surplus goods, thousands of dollars worth in addition to costly electrical and other machinery. Much first floor goods were also destroyed. Damage $30,000.
In addition to these losses the borough lost much through streets washed out and damage to the municipal building.
The floor in the municipal building was bulged up, the entire blueprint record of streets, etc., which was in the vault in the basement, was destroyed incurring heavy loss.
The lockup was flooded and the prisoners had to be taken to the second story where they were guarded until Monday and then taken to the county jail.
The Woodlawn Land Co. was a heavy loser, in sidewalks washed out and undermined. The streetcar company had a couple of costly washouts, one at the end of the arch were a 30 foot hill was partially washed away and lightning burned out an armature which may cost $1,000 to replace. The line is not yet in operation. Lightning also burned out a part of the electrical work in the J. & L. power house at a loss of $2,000. Otherwise the big mill was not damaged. The telephone company had 50 or more phones out of order which will require a day or two to repair.
The Peoples' Natural Gas Co. lost but little here but its Burgettstown plant was practically destroyed.
Practically all the growing crops on the Raccoon Creek near New Sheffield were destroyed. John Winkle stated that he had lived there since a boy but had never before seen such a flood. He had about 5 feet of water in his house and three haystacks were lifted and floated away. He also lost heavily in grain and growing crops. His loss is $500.
Mr. Winide's son and daughter who had been at church had a narrow escape. They had alighted from their buggy and waded through several feet of water, reaching home exhausted.
Jacob Figley, another resident on the creek lost $400. He said the water reached from hill to hill and practically everything in the valley was destroyed. Among the other heavy losers along the creek were John Figley, Frank Davis, Hugh Morrow, Ben Parish and Chas. Baker. A number of farmers had pigs and chickens carried away and fences and out buildings were swept away. Judson Rodgers at Merriman's Bridge was a heavy loser of live stock.