DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - When flood waters filled the city of Dayton back in 1913 many were hungry and had no where to go.
One local college opened its doors for hundreds of people and helped those who were stranded by high water.
The water kept rising throughout the streets of downtown Dayton
during Easter weekend 1913. The furry and fear of the flood had people scrambling to get out of the city. Meanwhile Saint Mary's Institute, now the University of Dayton was empty because students there were gone for the holiday.
Nichole Rustad, Digital Project Manager Roesch Library says, "The college had open dorm rooms and had restocked in preparation for the students to come back. They had a lot of food, own electric water. So it was a perfect relief station."
Nichole Rustad - Digital project manager - and the staff spent a few months going through all of the archives to tell the story of St. Mary's College.
"They came in droves of 200 hundred four hundred and then 800 and they stayed for about 2 weeks," Rustad said.
Their signatures are on display, people from as far as Xenia took advantage of the hospitality. But giving flood victims a hot meal and a dry bed weren't the only efforts from the college. Members also helped with rescue efforts. They used a flat bottom boat to navigate the strong currents.
Hand written stories on the back of photos helped the U-D staff see what happened during those cold days following the flood. This is what used to be a grocery store with an old cash register in front.
"When the water started to rise they made it to the top of the store and they were trying to warm a baby bottle and there was a gas leak and there was an explosion," Rustad explained.
Explosions, rescues and the school's transformation into a camp made the special edition of The Exponent - the college's magazine. Life returned to normal three weeks later for the college students and there was no trace of refugees. But the efforts from college and its members will never be forgotten.
The Hope on the Hill exhibit runs through June 17th at the University of Dayton's Roesch Library. Hours and days vary so please click here
for more information. Click here
for more photos from the 1913 flood.
Other 1913 Flood stories
Piqua's perseverance during the 1913 flood