Where Were You in '72? Remembering Agnes 45 Years Later

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Friday marks the 45th anniversary of one of this country's worst natural disasters -- the tropical storm Agnes flood of 1972. That flooding wreaked havoc across Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. And the hardest hit area was the Wyoming Valley. Our Lead I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick with a look back.

Dave DeCosmo- former radio and tv reporter remembers "The disaster was terrible. People faced things they never imagined."

That disaster brought on by tropical storm Agnes.. Agnes pounded Pennsylvania with heavy rains for several days..

 DeCosmo was a radio reporter at the time..he was drafted to act as the Civil Defense spokesman. He provided the latest information about the flooding to the public.

"When you think about the scope of that disaster then President Nixon called it the worst natural disaster to hit the United States up until that time."

Much of Wilkes-Barre and all of Kingston were destroyed by the flood..

"What they were coming home to in some cases were homes that were gone or homes that were filled with mud up to the first floor. there were fish inside and thick mud it took months to clean up." recalled DeCosmo.

"And the smell when you finally went back home. it was very difficult." said Paulette Becker who lived in Kingston in 10

Her most vivid memory of the flood, the people "It's the way people rallied was just amazing. The way people helped each other whether or not you lived there you came down to sandbag and you helped."

Becker now manages an apartment complex in Wilkes-Barre that was built specifically to house senior citizens who lost their homes in the flood.

Linda Reedy lives here now. She says they had little time to get out of her Wilkes-Barre home."About people knocking on the door, sirens blowing to tell you to evacuate. I had a new baby and four others and two dogs. we put them into a car and went to my aunt's house in Ashley."

Agnes started began as a hurricane but then weakened to a tropical storm when it hit Pennsylvania,but the storm just hung over the Northeast delivering a water filled punch that turned the Susquehanna river into a monster.  The flooding was the catalyst for major changes in the Wyoming Valley. Federal money was brought into the region and that helped change the face of the Valley --especially in Wilkes-Barre.


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