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Herbert E. S. Humbert



This is a letter written by Herbert E. S. Humbert, an employee of NCR,
to John H. Patterson telling of his experiences during the flood.
Courtesy of The NCR Archive at Dayton History


Wednesday, April 16, 1913

My Dear President:-

     In giving my experiences during the awfully flood in this city I must write about you to a large extent for had it not been for the example which you set at Main St. on Tuesday March 25th I confess that I would not have had the nerve to fight the current and bring the marooned people to shore and safety.  In beginning I want to say that these experiences will make me a better salesman than any knowledge I could ever have gotten from a class room.
     Tuesday March 25 I assisted you on Main St. for about two hours. Then in company with two other N.C.R. employees, whose names I do no know, I succeeded in bringing twenty-two women, children and men to shore. We had several thrilling experiences, such as being drifted down stream with four women in the boat, and in our desperate effort to get out of current we broke two of our oars and left us with only two others to man the boat. Some driftwood shanty in front got caught swirled round carrying us with it until we were able to catch on to a house and pull ourselves out of the current.  We got to shore safely put the ladies in the hands of men on shore got more oars and went back again, working until night set in.
     Wednesday, the 26th, at 5:15 a.m. I was again at the same work this time in company with Mr. Barber of my class.  We succeeded in bringing a number of people to shore, feeding others that wanted to stay in their houses as they thought themselves in no great danger.  Also the removing of five ladies and four men from a floating roof, where they had been marooned all night with fire not thirty feet away from them, was very dangerous and could not have been accomplished had the women been in their normal state of mind for they would not have obeyed our instructions.
     Wednesday afternoon we were called together by Mr. Grant and assigned to Relief stations.  I was assigned to Zimmer Hall and after spending the night at the Auto Club we were taken to our stations and I remained there, doing everything I possibly could to help the sufferers, until April 7 when we were relieved by a corp. of school teachers.  The afternoon of April 7th I spent at Memorial Hall assorting clothing and shoes.  Then we went out to the Auto Club and stayed there until the next afternoon when I moved my baggage and myself back into this office building.
     Incidentally I will say that I did not return to the Auto Club each night in fact not until I was relieved from my station did I leave it.
     In closing this letter to you, my President, I want to say that I am mighty glad that I was here at the time and could lend my efforts in this noble work which you so nobly carried out.

                                                          Respectfully your,

                                                                    Herbert E. S. Humbert  Dist. 3.