– It’s been 40 years since Hurricane Agnes devastated the Southern Tier. Elmira never recovered. Corning sort of did. The storm remains an example of how a “weak” system can deliver a catastrophic blow. At the time, it was the costliest hurricane in American history. The Syracuse Post-Standard gives an account of the flooding:
“Even today, it is a blur,” said retired Elmira City Fire Chief Donald H. Harrison, who in 1972 was a freshly minted lieutenant in the department. “We were so busy evacuating people. We were taking them off porch roofs, out of windows, from all sorts of situations. … The water came with such power, such speed, people could not get out. They had to run back to their houses and wait.”
Cars and houses smashed into bridges. People reported cattle — live and dead — bobbing on the river. Water covered two-thirds of the city. When it ended, the region’s death toll numbered 23.
An Elmira area firefighter tells The Associated Press: “We’re like a lost nation.”
One commonly expressed view is that while Agnes devastated Elmira’s downtown, the city of Corning managed to rebound stronger than ever. Corning, with 11,000 residents, is still about 40 percent the size of Elmira. But it is growing, while Elmira is shrinking.
Many of the downtown buildings in Corning and Elmira have high water marks. I always found Elmira rather depressing and locals blamed the flood. The city never bounced back. Agnes still haunts.
– The Democrat and Chronicle wrote about an all-boys program at School #9 and says it’s a success. I didn’t see any evidence that putting all boys together was the key. Rather, it seemed the emotional support given to the child who was profiled made the difference.
– An Albany Times Union columnist takes Andrew Cuomo to task for his “fracking baloney.”
– DNA testing gives a detailed look at Michelle Obama’s ancestors – both white and black.