Emergency Crew of Reclamation Service Work Without Rest Until Breach Is Repaired; Mexican Children Take Opportunity to Have Sport
The break in the canal, which flooded East El Paso Thursday night had been completely repaired by dark last night and the water was turned on again at 2:45 o’clock at the diversion dam north north of the city. The emergency crew of workmen, which is held in reserve by the reclamation service for such accidents, worked continuously from the time the break occurred until the repair was completed last night, with only a short relief.
The water had subsided last night except for a few pools that stood in the low territory around Oliva and Elviera streets, north of the break. The Mexicans in the flooded district were busy yesterday afternoon and last night cleaning the mud out of their homes, making repairs and moving the property they had taken out for fear of damage.
Farmers Can Irrigate
“Just spread the grad news to the farmers down the valley, whose crops are dependent on the water from this canal that the break has been repaired and the water turned on again,” said the government agent. “None of them, even those at the farthest end of the canal will be without water more than 24 hours, which will not be long enough to cause any damage. They probably have had a light flow all day from the water that was below the break and the water that is turned on tonight will reach them by tomorrow night.”
The emergency crew from the reclamation headquarters defied all speed ordinances getting to the scene of the disaster Thursday night, an official said, and arrived there by 8:30 o’clock. By 11 o’clock the flow had been checked and the danger was over. The repair work was done by lantern light and the workmen were hampered in their efforts a great deal. It was said by the crowds of frightened people, driven from their homes, who stood along the bank of the canal.
Slept Through Flood
The force of the flow went north and east, the houses on the north side of east San Antonio street, suffering the most damage. Occupants of the row of houses on the south side of the street between the canal and Piedras street, in which there was only a few inches of water, apparently were not disturbed by the commotion, witnesses said. They slept through the night, only to be greatly surprised to find water standing on the floor of their homes when they got up yesterday morning.
Yesterday was a gala day for the Mexican children of the locality, who were too young to appreciate the misfortune that had come to their elders. They capitalized their parents’ loss by the great pleasure they derived from wading and “boating” in the amateur lake.
Cause of Break
The break in the canal, it became known yesterday, was caused by a negro living near the stream, who wished to run some of the water into his yard. He dug a small trench through the bank of the canal and as soon as the water started to run through, it rapidly cut away the bank, releasing the entire volume of the current.
The story of an all-night fight to save the basements of the city and to prevent a large portion of the city from becoming flooded is told by the night force at the city sewage disposal plant in connection with the breaking of the Franklin canal Thursday night.
Sewers Nearly Flooded
When the water from the break in the canal, which is higher than the surrounding territory, began pouring into the streets and houses in the southeastern section of the city several sewer manholes were opened by citizens.
This action was taken under the erroneous impression that the sewers would carry the water away. As a matter of fact, it did nothing of the kind, official said yesterday. The water in the sewer must be pumped into the river and unless the pumps work with sufficient rapidity the water will back up and flood the basements all over town, they explained.
That is what nearly happened Thursday night and it was only by the most strenuous kind of effort that the pumpers at the disposal plant save the basements.
Acting Mayor R. C. Semple and some of the aldermen spent several hours in the flooded district yesterday and endeavored to bring some order out of the chaos created by the flood.
Mr. Semple estimated the damage to city and private property at not less than $10,000. Two houses have already collapsed, another one was condemned yesterday and it is expected that several others will have to be condemned as a result of the flood. During the rescue work yesterday two trucks became stuck in the mud. It was discovered, also, that some of the paving on Piedras street had been damaged and would have to be repaired.