Last week I told the tale of a 1933 New Year’s Eve party that was broken up (literally) by a massive flood that came down right at midnight, and of the party guests that were killed that horrible night. But not everyone that night experienced the disaster with such dire results.
A couple years ago I was contacted by Bob Crowe, who had grown up in the valley in the ‘30s, and though he was very young the night of the flood, he remembered it well. He and his family – Mom, Dad, and his two older brothers – lived in a nice little house on Altura, just a half block west of Ramsdell, and only a 100 yards or so from what was then a dry streambed, but what is now the Eagle Canyon Flood Control Channel. It had been raining hard for several days leading up to New Year’s Eve. Some neighbors (an 80-year- old lady, plus an older couple, the wife in a wheelchair) were uneasy in their homes with so much rain, so Mr. Crowe invited them to stay the night. The two older Crowe boys, thinking this was quite an adventure, gave up their beds and spent the night with a young couple next door. All retired about 10:00 p.m.
At midnight, Mr. and Mrs. Crowe woke to a violent roaring noise, like continuous thunder. Their feet splashed into icy water as they scrambled toward the living room. At that moment the front door, in its casement, burst inward and they were instantly up to their thighs in swirling mud and water. The roaring was now so loud the two couldn’t hear each other shouting as they made for the back bedroom where young Bobby had been sleeping. They found him in the water, grabbed him and tossed him and their little dog onto the bed floating in the rising water. The ceiling had sagged down on one side of the room, creating an opening into the attic. Mr. Crowe lifted his wife up into the opening and handed Bobby and the dog up to her. He then waded back to find the elderly neighbors, who had retreated to the rear of the house. He carried the two women back to the opening to the attic, lifted them up to his wife, and helped the older man up, too. Crowe was now running on adrenaline, as he shoved mattresses up through the hole, along with any dry clothes and food he could find, plus their various pets. All this time boulders banged against the front of the house and smashed through windows. While he worked, he watched through a window as a woman was swept by, screaming for help.
He had to see if his two boys and the next door neighbors were still alive, so he struck out through the current. Reaching their wrecked house he called and called for them, but there was no answer. Panicking, he waded into the house to find it empty. He called out once more in desperation, and this time got a muffled answer from above. The two boys and the young couple had retreated to their own attic, and were huddled there, shivering and cold.
Crowe carried his two boys back to his house and, followed by the young couple, retreated into the attic with the rest of the crowd. Ten people, two dogs, three puppies, a cat, a parrot and two lovebirds cowered in the attic all night. When morning came, they climbed back down to look out on a vista of complete devastation. Heartbreaking scenes were everywhere, families torn apart and left homeless. The Crowes were lucky. They had lost all their possessions, but had their home – and their lives. They patched their house back together, and lived there for many more years.
Their old house is still there today, and looks nearly identical to what it did then. There’s a young family there today, probably very much like the Crowe family, with no idea of the drama that took place in their comfty home.