Let me back up for a moment. Even though I had tremendous interest in the documentary on the 50th anniversary of the tropical storm Agnes flood, there was no way I could make to the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre for any of the showings. I did the next best thing, happily paying $20, plus shipping for the DVD.
Before I begin my review, here is something to consider. I viewed it as not only as an interested local resident, but also as a journalist and an editor.
Even though there was a lot of archival material that hadn't been seen in decades, there wasn't much new here. That's OK. It's difficult to uncover new territory in a story fifty years old, one that has been told hundreds, maybe thousands of times. It was great to see and hear local and national broadcasting legends. The images were stunning and powerful, even after all these years. The documentary had a solid beginning middle and end. It told the story from the first rain drops to the "new" Wilkes-Barre. The tears and the frustration of the flood victims are as powerful now as they were fifty years ago.
My main beef was with the contemporary interviews. I can listen to David DeCosmo tell flood stories until the cows come home, and his recollections added a great deal to the documentary. Meteorologist Tom Clark? None better. Unfortunately, other than Mike Stevens, I didn't get much insight or emotion from those new interviews, and some could have, and should have, been cut altogether. There was some emotion in the narration, but it was lost in the torrent of unnecessary facts and superfluous sound bites.
I wanted those "moments." What did it feel like when you knew the fight to hold back the river was over? What was it like seeing the disinterred bodies from the Forty Fort Cemetery? What did you think about during the helicopter tour, as the chopper came over the mountain and entered the valley?
The documentary is a first class work and an exceptionally important project. I'm glad we have it to show generations to come-- where we've been and where we're going.