This Day In History: 1972-06-20

Hurricane Agnes hits Dansville Area

When, in June 1972, the remnants of Hurricane Agnes paid a surprise visit to Upstate New York, the results were comparable to the great flood of 1935. Although the Kanakadea Dam protected the city of Hornell, other Southern Tier cities and villages–Corning, Elmira, Wellsville, Canisteo, Alfred, Almond–were subjected to major flooding from rivers choked by the 10 inches of rain that fell in three days. At least one drowning victim was reported in Corning. One can only speculate how the absence of the 20-year-old Mt. Morris Dam would have compounded Livingston County damage. As it was, nervous Army Engineers felt compelled to release some of the pent-up waters, flooding croplands in low-lying areas.

In Dansville, the flooding of Mill Creek forced the evacuation of Quay Street and the Tracy trailer court (where three trailers were swept away). A bridge at Stone’s Falls was washed out, taking a house and trailer with it. At Comminsville the overflow of Canaseraga Creek caused $750,000 in damage at Foster Wheeler, as it ran across Route 36, sent a foot of water across the parking lots, flooded the basement, and deposited 6 inches of silt in the Tube Shop. Cleaning out the shop required the borrowing of several high- pressure hoses from the fire department, and the efforts of some 300 local volunteers. Not so easily fixed was the damage done to crops and nursery stock in the Flats area, damage estimated in the millions.

These first two paragraphs come from a newspaper column series titled ” Dansville Turns 200″ that ran from 1992 till 1996 in the Genesee Country Express by David Gilbert.  David is  the curator of the Dansville Area Historical Society museum.

Foster Wheeler employees returned to their jobs this week. Their tools these days are high rubber boots, shovels, brooms and mops.

The parking lot was flooded again Monday morning — with cars instead of water.

The massive job of cleaning up tons of sludge and debris is expected to continue throughout the week. Help there Saturday and Sunday was on voluntary basis by employees. Now full wages are being paid by the firm.

A. J. Timmes, local works manager, said full assessment of damage and loss cannot be made until about a couple of weeks. Investigation into extent of electrical damage was started Monday. One of the most costly projects is inspection of materials covered with mud. “Every piece of tubing will have to be flushed and treated,” he said.

Timmes estimated damage at the cafeteria alone at between $50,000 and 160,000 and stated the entire area will have to be completely redone. He called last week’s flood “the worst in the history of the Dansville plant.”