EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — All this week we are looking at the devastation of the tropical storm, Agnes flood.
On Tuesday, Eyewitness News introduced Joe Soprano, whose earliest childhood memory begins with the flood.
“The earliest memory I have of it was just the night we had to evacuate,” said Joe soprano, Executive Editor of Times Leader.
Joe Soprano recalls the morning he was awoken to evacuate his childhood home at 910 South Franklin Street in South Wilkes-Barre.
“It was early in the morning from what I remember, or at least what would be early in the morning for a five-year-old, and I remember just being woken up from bed and being told we have to go,” Soprano added.
Soprano says he and his family rushed out of their home, only bringing the clothes on their backs to head to higher ground.
“From what I recall we didn’t take a whole lot because we were in a hurry to get out of the house, it seemed like back then there wasn’t a lot of preparation. I don’t think people really believed that the water was going to come over,” Soprano explained.
Soprano’s mother took him and his two older brothers, who were about 9 and 10 years old. to stay with family. They moved around for about a month or so until they were able to return home to South Franklin Street.
“I don’t think I really realized what happened until we moved back into the home,” Soprano stated.
His grandparents and uncle repaired the home for his mother and brothers.
“By the time we moved back in our home was pretty much in a good state of repair,” Soprano said .
One of the things Soprano remembers clearly after all of these years was the way the community banded together to help each other.
“It was just the way everybody pitched in to help out people.”
Soprano tells Eyewitness News at one point the American Red Cross was giving away peanut butter to families.
“We ate peanut butter for ages after that. I remember at one point I must have been still only six. I just said to my mother you know I am done. I am never going to eat peanut butter again. I haven’t had a peanut butter sandwich since I was six years old, all courtesy of Agnes,” Soprano explained.
While no lives were lost, the flood impacted tens of thousands of people evacuated. The devastation pressed into the minds of all, especially the young.
“We watched a lot of tv back then. I was too young to read newspapers but we did pay attention to what was going on,” added Soprano.
WBRE worked tirelessly around the clock to capture the wreckage. The Agnes flood became one of the state’s worst natural disasters.
Standing in front of his childhood home 50 years later, Soprano is now the Executive Editor of Times Leader.
“You know I’ve never really thought about if the flood had an impact on getting into the news business but you know it very well could have,” said Soprano.
The week will culminate with a one-hour special presented by Eyewitness News at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 20 on WYOU.
For the full interview with Joe Soprano watch the video below: