According to the Garland Daily News on June 17, 1949 terror and destruction descended upon the Duck Creek area of Garland Monday night. The flood claimed the lives of four and destroyed a million dollars worth of property.
Mrs. Donald Cooper, 21, of 1338 Briarwood Circle and four guests were caught in the flood as they left the Cooper home for higher ground. Mrs Cooper was torn from her husband’s grasp as they found temporary safety hanging onto a tree. He was rescued later by boat.
Mr. and Mrs. Auldon R. King and their 15 year old son Brad perished when the automobile in which they were riding was swept from the Avenue B bridge over Duck Creek.
Jim Gatewood’s summary: It was a night of stark terror as the turbulent waters knocked out the Garland Power & Light facilities. The telephones went dead when the phone company battery room was flooded. Grady McMahan got James “Red” Bankston from his creekside home. They went to Bankston’s Ford dealership and got the company wrecker. Then they returned to the creek area to assist people they knew were in trouble. Degge Circle was on the east creek bank of the raging Duck Creek. They let the tow cable out on the wrecker. Grady tied a rope around his waist and went into the distressed homes helping the people to high ground.
Joyce Garrison had left her infant with her parents on Degge Circle. The rampaging waters had caught the elderly couple completely by surprise. Both Red and Grady went out on the wrecker line. Grady was in front holding and guiding both grandparents through the torrent. Grady tuned to check on Red who was carrying the infant wrapped in a blanket. Red had disappeared.
Grady would never forget that moment of terror and frustration. He could not let go of the elders as they would perish.
At that moment, Red bobbed up and caught the cable, still holding the baby. Red coughed, spit water, and cursed all in one breath. When the blanket was removed, they found the baby had slept through the whole episode. The two men would laugh later when Red would recount how he stepped in a hole but managed to regain his footing.
The two men worked through the night. An untold number of people owe their lives to Red Bankston and Grady McMahan for that night’s work.
The next morning, mounted on horseback, Grady led volunteers on the grim job of searching for the bodies of the flood victims. As they set out, the morning skies were still heavy with rain clouds. Fortunately, it did not rain much more. By dark, all the bodies had been recovered.
Marie McMahan (Grady’s wife) recalled that Grady had been gone for more than forty-eight hours. When he came in late that night, he didn’t change clothes, eat, or speak. He just threw himself into bed and didn’t get up or even turn over for almost eleven hours.
Photo courtesy WFAA TV. Text courtesy Garland Daily News and the book “Decker” by Jim Gatewood.