Affiliate notice

Affiliate links may be included in posts, as on sidebar ads, for which compensation may be received.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Flood of 1955

(Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of this page to mute the music so you can hear the newsreel.)

The Flood of 1955 came from the residual rain of two hurricanes, and yet because of its suddenness in striking in the wee hours on August 19th, seemed to come out of nowhere.

Hurricane Connie, and Hurricane Diane, neither of which actually entered New England, nevertheless pushed a couple of feet of rain, a deluge in a very short span of just over a day. The sodden ground could take no more, and the rivers morphed into monsters and took property, and lives, away.

There seemed to be less havoc on the Connecticut River, which had the benefit of flood control projects inspired by previous flood disasters, but the smaller rivers and tributaries were not protected quite so well.

The Westfield River in Western Massachusetts, and especially down the Naugatuck River valley, Connecticut’s industrial center, was hammered by the swift, destructive current. In Connecticut, over 90 people were dead or missing and presumed dead. In a report in the Connecticut State Library, “The Connecticut Floods of 1955: A Fifty-Year Perspective” we note that over 85,000 people were left without jobs, several thousand suffered flood damage to their homes, or were temporarily left homeless, or lost their homes altogether.

Another flood in October would make 1955 a very memorable and tragic year for Connecticut. In these days before suburban industrial parks, most industries were built on, and were powered by, rivers. Our towns created by the rivers in the 16th and 17th centuries still thrived as 20th century “downtowns” where most of the commerce, if not still many of the homes before suburban sprawl, were situated.

There is a duality to rivers. They give birth to communities, and whole civilizations; and they sometimes take it away.

Have a look here for facts and figures, and photos, of the Connecticut flooding in this Connecticut State Library site, a 50-year perspective on the 1955 floods. Have a look here for a series of articles by Jim Shea of The Hartford Courant also done on the 50th anniversary in 2005, particularly for the vivid memories shared by readers.

Also have a look here for a Western Massachusetts perspective from one of my favorite blogs, On Larch Lane.

And here on yesterday’s Another Old Movie Blog, we discuss Rosalind Russell’s movie premiere and homecoming to her hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut hours before the flood destroyed much of the aptly named Waterbury.

No comments:

Now Available