Thursday, December 8, 2016

Floodwaters and Flames: The 1913 disaster in Dayton, Ohio by Lois Miner Huey

Beginning with the doomsday warnings of Andrew Fox, known as "High Water" Fox, the story of the 1913 floods of Dayton, Ohio begins on a note of impending danger. Huey follows the progress of the devastating floods through the experiences of several people. Mary Althoff, librarian, who was trapped with several others in the Dayton Public Library and chronicled her experiences. Clarence Mauch, a store clerk who escaped over the rooftops. John Bell, an employee of the telephone company who managed to call for help. Famous inventor Wilbur Wright and his wife Katharine who escaped from their home and John H. Patterson, founder of the National Cash Register Company on the outskirts of town who headed rescue and recovery efforts. Finally, and of most interest to me, is African American Bill Sloan who rescued hundreds of people in the poor West Dayton area.

Huey includes original newspaper accounts and personal reminiscences of the people involved to create a realistic picture of the tragedy and its aftermath. This is more than just the account of a natural disaster though. She concludes the historical account with the results of the flood, including how it was largely forgotten and its role in the creation of FEMA and the American Red Cross. She also discusses the continued influence of similar floods, such as Hurricane Katrina.

In the author's note, Lois Huey talks about the research process and the difficulty of finding original sources and information on how poorer families were affected by the flood and African-American involvement like Bill Sloan. A timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further information, and index are also included.

Verdict: Although there are a few drawbacks to the structure of the book; the picture book layout and extremely small print of the back matter, overall the strong writing and research of the book will make this a popular choice for readers interested in history and natural disasters. I especially appreciated Huey's effort to include those often ignored in these historical accounts. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781467794329; Published 2016 by Millbrook; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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