Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dynamite is savior

This story appeared in The Ypsilanti Record of Thursday, February 21, 1918.

The free use of dynamite in breaking up the ice pack which last Thursday night has choked Huron river from the Michigan avenue bridge south to a point some distance below the U. S. Pressed Steel plant, has undoubtedly saved thousands of dollars of property loss, to say nothing of inconvenience to residents along the river and to loss of time at the Pressed Steel plant and possibly the putting out of commission of the city water works plant and electric street lighting station.

A force of six men has been employed by the city daily since the ice pack and resulted flooding of the low sections along the river began, cutting trenches in the piled up ice fields and inserting and discharging dynamite. In all more than 400 sticks of explosives has been used, and to what good effect is seen in the wide expanse of river surface opened.

This timely action on the city's part did not prevent all damage, however. Such was the rush of floating ice and high waters last Thursday night that Water street was inundated and eleven families were driven from their homes in the night. Police calls were sent in and by 2 o'clock Friday chief of Police Cain and members of the police force had successed in taking the inmates of 11 homes to safety with a\the aid of boats.

The families driven from homes by the water were as follows:
Sheldon Granger, Thomas Barnum, H. Ross, Mrs. Josephine Alford, Frank Tuttle, Freemont Randail, Walter Russ, Robert Counsellor, Mrs. Wilmer Pressler, Mrs. Burrill and Lee Borch.

While the water had by Monday gone down several feet in the river and consequently drained the flooded district, residents of Water Street were still unable to return to their homes. Yards were piled high with cakes of ice and contents of the houses as far as the first floors were soaked. Thursday efforts were made by some of the occupants to build fires and dry out their homes, and by others to get conveyances at hand and move household goods elsewhere, but word came from Lowell where an Edison Co. dam is maintained, that the water was raising an inch an hour and a flood of even greater proportions that that of last Thursday night was predicted. Once more everybody was driven out from Water Street, and through Thursday night the houses were deserted. A sudden change in temperature caused the rain to cease and the river to freeze and the flood was temporarily averted.

Through the efforts of Mayor Brown a supply of dynamite was secured last Friday and a force of six men was secured last Friday from Shepherd ice house to handle it. The gang was to work below the Water Works station four of them sawing trenches and two planting and firing dynamite charges. Thus by Tuesday they had successed in opening the river from a point below the Pressed Steel Co. plant up stream to the gravel pit. Previous to this work the river had been frozen completely over and the floating ice from up-stream had been forced under water until the whole river bed was chocked.

Nor is the danger yet past. The thaws that must come are bound to produce a tremendous volume of water that must be carried off and if the ice is not kept out of the way floods are bound to result. Thus far Race street residents have not suffered. The water works and lighting station has been kept above water and the Pressed Steel Plant has been kept running. Still higher water in the near future is not impossible.

This is not the first time the Huron has caused damage by flooding. About 12 years ago unusually high water took out the Peninsular Paper Co.’s dam, the Knitting Mill dam and an Edison dam below. It also washed out the Forest avenue bridge and the East Cross street bridge.

No comments: