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Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: October 2002

The Hurricane of '38 and the Floods of '54 and '55

The Flood of ‘54 in the newspaper, the Stamford Advocate
Excerpted from microfilm in the Ferguson Library. The headlines are much larger than in 1938.

Northeast Counts Half Billion Loss In Hurricane, At Least 48 Dead

Hundred of Cottages
Swept Away; 20-Foot
Cape Cod Tidal Wave

Wednesday, September 1, 1954

Evacuees Returning To Homes Today; Pumps Work in South End
by Bill Hannan

Stamford is struggling back to normal today after the wind, rain and floods that hurricane Carol sent here on Tuesday.

Residents of the lower areas in the South End were returning to their homes to assess the damage done by the inrushing waters that are believed to have reached heights not seen since the hurricane of 1938.

Advocate Carriers
Wade, Use Boats
To Deliver Paper

Advocate carriers, 12 years and up, were reported delivering papers to their regular customers as usual Tuesday--wading through shoulder-deep water and even carrying papers from house to house by rowboat.

Although Postal Department couriers were temporarily stayed "from their appointed rounds" in many sections of Stamford, the newsboys generally got through except for one section: Dyke La., Stamford, where the water was still several feet deep today.

Jay Howard delivered his papers in the Binney Park section of Old Greenwich on Tuesday by boat, as did Steven May in the Edgewater section of Old Greenwich.

Walter Owen, a smallish lad, waded up to his armpits on his Henry St. route, and Lewis Gaudio plowed through waist-level water to take his customers papers in the Brook St., Pacific St., and Canal St. vicinity--just to name a few.

Circulation was expected to be normal in all areas today, except possibly around Dyke La.

…The expected northwest wind that would have kept back some of the force of the water borne in on the high tide on Tuesday, failed to materialize and the Sound move in and took over large portions of the land.

Shippan Marooned. Residents of Shippan were marooned in their homes when even the high-wheeled fire trucks were not able to drive into the area until late in the afternoon.

More than 100 persons were evacuated by Army trucks and boats in the South End. They were fed at Vonderlieth Hall which Pitney - Bowes through open for that purpose, with the Pitney Bowes chefs and cafeteria crew helping care for their wants.

The first phase of the storm was over, and a bright sun was shining in a blue sky--that was when the floods came.

Rises Suddenly. Most of the residents in the low areas, apparently confident that the worst had passed, stayed in their homes. Suddenly, the rising waters swept over retaining walls an shot over streets, yards, and sidewalks. Cellars were soon filled. Families who had upper floors were safe there, but those in low level living quarters required quick evacuation.

Point Hard Hit. …The lower part of Shippan was the heaviest hit – Rogers Rd., Ocean Dr. East and Ocean Dr. West presenting the picture of a small lake covering lawns and entering cellars.

Dep. Fire Chief William J. Densky was in the South End when the rising waters burst over retaining walls and shot through the streets. He called headquarters immediately for boats.

The fire department had already sent one of its two boats to Shippan but the other was sent to the South End to begin evacuation. Other boats were volunteered by their owners and in many places outboard motor could be used because the depth of the water.

“Snorkel” Trucks. The National Guard sent eight trucks, some equipped with a snorkel device that brought the air intake and exhaust high above the water surface and make progress comparatively easy. These too helped in evacuating stranded families.

(However shelters offered where generally not needed)

…The South end of Stamford continued to resemble a scene of Venice, Italy, today with streets flooded by two to three feet of water, and residents commuting in and out for their homes by small boat.

Dyke La. most resembled the Grand Canal of Venice, where the depth of water was sufficient to permit transportation by outboard motor, although the flood level had receded two feet from the high-water mark of yesterday recorded on the walls of buildings.

…At noon waters still covered the Kiddie Carnival and parts of the Starlite Drive-In Theatre on Shippan Ave. The drive-in theatre was completely under water Tuesday afternoon. The manager, William Sobel, reported it was eight feet deep at the box office and up to six feet deep in other parts.

Wading Pools. Parts of Cummings Park were still under water today, and the Shippan Ave. entrance stood under about a foot-deep pool, to the delight of neighborhood youngsters.

…South End industries were conducting their own clean-up programs, ridding plants of water and dirt. Presenting a startling picture was the Yale & Towne building on Market St., where two heavy streams of hot water spurted from open windows, filling the side of the street with with foggy steam.

Power Being Restored. Connecticut Power Co. officials declared today that hurricane Carol had caused "one of the most difficult types of outage" they had experienced. About 2,500 through 3,000 customers were left without power by hundred of breaks and short circuits… (Telephones were of course also affected and addressed in parts of the article)

Dog electrocuted. There were no further reports of personal injury after a pedestrian was slightly injured by a fence blown against him on Atlantic St. Tuesday morning. A dog owned by Mrs. Julia Esposito of Pacific St., was electrocuted on Pacific St., when it cam into contact with a live wire.

Hurricane of 1938, click here for images Flood of 1954, click here for images Floods of 1955, click here for images
Hurricane of 1938 Flood of 1954 Floods of 1955

Other Photo Archivist Selections of the Month
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