John G. Ruzbacki helped to save Emmet C. and Junie B. Rhodes from drowning, North Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, March 18, 1936. Rhodes, 52, and his wife, 49, who was an invalid, were marooned on the second floor of their two-story house by the floodwaters of the Kiskiminetas River. Water 12 feet deep flowed at a speed of 10 m.p.h. along the street in front of the house, and a current of 4 to 6 m.p.h. swung from the street into a side street, striking the structure opposite the Rhodes house and then angling toward the main current in the river. Ruzbacki, 26, apprentice moulder, and another man, although tired from hours of work in other flooded areas, entered a rowboat at a ramp of a bridge that crossed the river. Having but one pair of oars and a broom for use as a paddle, they rowed and paddled the boat against the main current for 250 feet along a row of houses eight feet apart. In passing from one house to the next, the boat repeatedly was carried 25 feet from its course by cross currents before progress could be made to the next house. The men reached the rear porch roof of the structure across the side street from the Rhodes house and entered the structure through a window. By means of a long chain attached to the bow, they pulled the boat from window to window against the strong current to a window opposite one in the Rhodes house. They then re-entered the boat, which was three feet below the window, and with great effort and difficulty maneuvered it across the street to the window in the Rhodes house, the sill of which was a foot under water. As Ruzbacki lifted Mrs. Rhodes out of the window, the boat moved away a little, and he dropped her in the boat and fell with her. Ruzbacki regained his position and held to the window sill as Rhodes then got into the boat. Ruzbacki and the other man rowed and paddled back to the ramp, repeatedly being carried off course at the gaps between the houses as before. Reaching safety, they were very tired and wet. Using the same boat, two other men started on a similar course to rescue a man, but they returned after going a short distance because of the danger involved. That man was later rescued at the bridge as his house drifted under it, and the Rhodes house was also swept from its foundation.
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