Friday, April 10
18 People Pretending They Weren't Crowded
Part 5... The downstairs of our refuge was rapidly filling with water, and the upstairs grew icy cold. We didn't know how long it would be before the river would crest, and we called to the men who were evacuating the house next door. They answered that the water was still rising, so once again we got ready to move. With my pillowcase full of food, I was carried out by two men waist deep in the icy water through the kitchen. I waited for Mama on the hill behind the house. The slope we had to climb was no gentle one. I would not have attempted it at any other time. Now it looked almost straight up. Nevertheless, we struck out, slipping, sliding, grasping at air, until we finally reached the last step. Someone held out a hand to help me, and I took it gratefully. Upon reaching the top I found one of the boys grinning at me. He had crossed the bridge and come back. I looked down its general direction. The water must have been lapping over the concrete when he crossed! I looked at him and thought hazily that that thick coat must certainly be warm. We reached our final stop, a home far above the water level and deposited our burdens. There were eighteen people attempting to pretend that they weren't crowded in that one house. At this time Woodland Park was a horseshoe surrounded on three sides by the gigantic river, now three or four times its normal size. Up the river was a supply house of the Mines Service Company near which stood two huge Standard Oil drums. Mine Service was on fire and had been burning since early that afternoon, that is, the part above the water. In everyone's mind there was a gnawing fear, and the memory of a place called Johnstown.