WOMEN WORK TO SAVE HOMES. ~ Side by Side With Men They Labor at the Dikes.

June 10, 1908

Side by Side With Men They Labor
at the Dikes.

A crumbling dike and the crest of the Kaw river rise only two hours distant was the condition at the Fifth street bridge, one mile west of the S. & S. Packing house, Armourdale, at 12 o'clock last night. Women as well as men joined in the unequal combat, wives holding burlap sacks while their husbands filled them with dirt for the levee. At 2 o'clock this morning the narrow bank, which was all that was between a city of 10,000 people and a repetition of the flood of 1904, was eighteen inches higher than the river level. It looked as though victory leaned toward the laborers.

Ever since the news of the unusual rise of the Kaw tributaries reached the drainage board, eight teams and about twenty men have been working without cessation on the dike at the Fifth street bridge. This is the weakest point in the river bank in Kansas City, Kas., and the place where it leaped through and inundated Armourdale and the West bottoms in 1903. The teams have done good work, according to the engineers, but the swift current burdened with timbers and debris of all descriptions, had eaten well into the new embankment yesterday, so extraordinary efforts had to be made t check it in advance of the volume of water expected to finish the rise last night.

At 8 o'clock the Kaw was washing above the flood line at the Fifth street dikes, and the drainage board especially interested in this point as the key to the situation, passed word around to the effect that the last few hours of the rise might bring in a close race with the river.

In a few minutes after the condition of the dikes became known, hundreds of people, men and women, were on their way to Fifth street, armed with shovels. At the Cudahy and Schwarzschild & Sulzberger plants they obtained a large quantity of gunny sacks and at 9 o'clock the threatened dikes swarmed with toilers.

Women stood in the moist and holding the sacks open while the men, digging rapidly, filled them and carried them to lay on the dike.

It was a busy scene. Lanterns held by boys glimmered in and out among the workers like so many fire-flies ans whips cracked as the teams of horses were trotted with the wheel scrapers.

"It's coming up! Look out for that low place near the bridge; it needs tending to right away!"

"Come on here, with another bag!"

"All right now, fill in boys, it's coming our way. We're eighteen inches ahead of high water!"

The above were some of the shouts heard as the work progressed, and showed the anxiety of the people to save their homes. So well was the dike builded that as the torrent rose until the elbow of the river bend punched into its sides, it stood the test and not a leak came through.

Among the workers at the bridge whose part was to systematize the work so as to make it effective, were members of the drainage board.

These men with coats off and sleeves rolled up, occasionally seized a shovel and worked with the rest.