On August 18, 1955 hurricanes Connie and Diane passed through the Delaware valley area dropping over 8" of rain. Rushing water swept through the valley carrying with it homes, bridges, and debris. With little warning the Delaware River flooded creating havoc as a result.
As the river swelled it became necessary to evacuate two camps located on Treasure Island and Pennington Island. Five hundred children from the camps had to be airlifted to safety. Fortunately there were no deaths associated with this disaster. Yet much damage to the local economy did result.
The flowing river lifted up and swept away the Byram-Point Bridge. Four homes located in Byram, where the water swelled to heights above the rooftops, were swept away. Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania was probably the worst hit region in the area. Hundreds of local residents where left homeless and over a thousand people needed the food and water delivered by the Red Cross after the waters finally receded. Even the Black Eddy post office was washed away.
Two hundred local families had to be evacuated. Local government health officials, worried that typhoid might become a problem, decided to inoculate all area residents at a significant cost. Many families were totally uprooted by the flood and left with nothing, even drinking water and food had to be brought in. Roads, where washed away and much of the local infrastructure had to be rebuilt.
The economy suffered a major blow. Probably one of the worst hit areas was in New Jersey. The local paper mill suffered damages in excess of one million dollars and was closed for over a month while it was being repaired.
In the Milford area damages were estimated at one hundred and thirty two thousand dollars and in Frenchtown the estimated damages where thought to be almost half a million dollars. Businesses had to be rebuilt. Local utilities had to be brought back online and many people had to wait to go back to work while their work places where repaired.
The loss of revenue and critical information and data was enormous, even in this “pre-digital" time.
Flooding in low-lying areas has been a problem for many years. In some cases even insurance companies have decided not to cover losses as a result of flooding, because living in a flood zone is a matter of personal choice. Despite the risks, companies need to be located in these low-lying areas either to service local populations or to access needed resources. The only answer is to be properly prepared.
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