KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On this 50 anniversary of the Agnes flood, many people are reliving their experiences and telling their tales of the flood.
Eyewitness News sat down with Richard Kramer at his accounting office in Kingston to hear his stories of living through the Agnes flood in June of 1972.
At the time, he was out of the service for about a year and was living with a friend from the Army in an apartment on the corner of River and Ransom Streets in Forty Fort, right across from the cemetery.
“You could look out over the levee and see the river. And like, I hadn’t seen the river yet under flood conditions, and it was high,” explained Richard Kramer, flood victim.
In the days leading up to the flood, Kramer recalls seeing a lot of debris in the rising Susquehanna River, including trees and a swift-moving current.
“Suddenly I realized, this could be bad. So, the next morning they got us all together, volunteers, and we all went over to the forty fort cemetery and began packing sandbags, and we did that for quite some time until they kicked us out. And they kicked us out when the manhole covers started to pop. They went up like geysers,” Kramer stated.
Kramer’s community was evacuated before the river busted through the levee, submerging the cemetery and the surrounding area. He recalls being able to go back home about two weeks later and seeing the destruction firsthand.
“What was strange was to see what the valley looked like when we got back. First of all, the stench was unbelievable,” Kramer added.
Kramer lost almost everything he owned. His family’s manufacturing business in Kingston was in ruins.
He recalls acts of kindness during the chaos from many people, including one of the vendors his family worked with.
“Every week he came by, and he gave us what he figured we needed. So initially it was like cleaning supplies, and eventually, it became like stationery and ballpoint pens and legal pads but he was like an angel from heaven,” Kramer said.
Rebecca Stitzer is Kramer’s daughter and the Creative Services Director at Eyewitness News. She was born after the flood but grew up hearing how her family overcame hardships caused by Agnes.
“We had a family business, they built the family business back, so it’s very important to talk to the younger generations about it so they can see that you can persevere and carry on,” explained Rebecca Stitzer, Eyewitness News Creative Services Director, Kramer’s daughter.
Kramer says he’s thankful that he and other members of his family survived to tell the tales.
“I think that hit home with us, to like consider what could have been lost,” said Kramer.
Remember we have companion pieces to Madonna’s story by Times Leader reporter Ryan Evans on the Times Leader website.
The week will culminate with a one-hour special presented by Eyewitness News at 7:00 p.m., on Monday, June 20 on WYOU.
Watch the full interview with Richard Kramer below: