Flood of 1972: Remembering the Destruction and Loss

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(WETM) – On this day 49 years ago, the Twin Tiers were flooded and mass destruction was occurring. Hurricane Agnes made landfall in Florida as a hurricane and then weakened as it moved inland. As Agnes moved near the Carolinas’ coastlines, the storm strengthened into a tropical storm once again. Agnes made its final landfall near Long Island as a tropical storm. The winds were a problem but the rain was a whole other story.

The remnants of Agnes over the Northeast caused heavy rain that reached double digits in multiple locations. Major flooding resulted from the heavy rain and many rivers actually set records for their crests. One of those rivers was the Chemung river. In Corning, the Chemung river crested at 40 feet, and in Elmira, the Chemung river crested at 25 feet. Both of these crests are still the record crests today.

Raging flood waters over took many counties across the Twin Tiers which turned streets into rivers and parking lots into ponds including Chemung County. Businesses and families in Chemung county saw major loss from the flood. Businesses in Elmira were inundated with upwards of six feet of water and a muddy mess was left behind. Rachel Dworkin from the Chemung County Historical Society says this was the most destructive weather event to economically impact the county.

“Within Chemung County, it caused $291 million worth of damage and forced approximately 15,000 people from their homes. Every single person has a unique story to tell about their flood experience. And for some people it was a story of loss, for some people its a story of fear, for some people its the story of I made the most money during my summer for cleaning out people’s homes.”

Many people across the Twin Tiers are remembering what took place 49 years ago. The damage, the loss, and the aftermath not only impacted people who were there for the event but the story is being told through generations about the flood of 1972. Dworkin says that this event truly brought the community together.

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