Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: Susquehanna I

I'm sure photos and memories of Tropical Storm Agnes are all over the place this weekend.  I decided to go in the other direction-- a picture of the Susquehanna at Wilkes-Barre on a recent morning.

The weather was perfect when I took this shot.  Bright sunshine.  Little humidity.  No wind.  The water was tranquil and still.  Low water level-- quite a contrast from 40 years ago.

I took this photo from the Market Street Bridge in Wilkes-Barre, looking downstream.

Agnes will continue to be a fascinating subject, long after the people who were around to experience it depart.

The question I always have, especially for those who covered the flood, is "When did you realize it was going to happen?"

Mike Stevens and I talked about on a recent morning.  He mentioned leaving his radio station, in the evening, to go to one in Scranton, which served as HQ for a patched together flood network.  The river came over the levee late the next morning.  He heard the stories of sandbaggers literally having to run away from the rushing water, once it was clear the river couldn't be stopped.

David DeCosmo has been a friend for a long time, and we worked together for several years in the early and mid 90's.  Yet, I never asked him the question about when he knew the fight to save the Wyoming Valley was over.

Maybe David will read this and shoot me a response someday soon.

Back in the day, Civil Defense (what the Emergency Management Agency used to be called) was in the sub basement of the Luzerne County Courthouse, and David was there when water started coming up through the floor drains.  Civil Defense then temporarily relocated to the Wilkes-Barre Area School District Administration, on the high end of South Main Street.

Think about that for a second.  Civil Defense was in the sub basement of a building located right next to the river!  Back in the day, we were more afraid of nuclear war than we were of mass flooding.

I also worked with Jerry Heller and Kitch Loftus, two Agnes veterans, at WARM, and don't ask me why we never had a big flood talk.

I do remember Kevin Jordan's stories about the mud, and the dust, and the epidemic of auto flat tires caused by glass and nails left over from destroyed homes.

The fact that memories remain so vivid is a reminder of the massive devastation 40 years ago.