by Mark Stash
Some memories remain etched in my brain and as clear as day, no matter my age. One of my first intense memories is standing on Larksville Mountain above the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. My parents drove the station wagon from our family home to a cemetery on the mountain, where we could get a clear view of the valley below. All I remember is that I saw a vast expanse of water where there never was water before, with buildings and trees presiding over the flooded landscape like lonely sentinels.
We were lucky enough to have lived in the Back Mountain area above the valley, safe from the major flooding.
That flooded valley was the result of Hurricane Agnes, the storm that raged across the Northeast United States in June 1972. The incredible amount of rain that accompanied the hurricane flooded areas in New York and Pennsylvania, along the Chemung and Susquehanna River Valleys, among others.
For years, I remember that cities like Wilkes-Barre, Nanticoke, Kingston, and Scranton worked hard to recover from the devastation that the flooding wrought. It never occurred to me that other areas might have suffered from this as well. Cities like Painted Post, Corning and Elmira were also underwater and suffered incredible losses in lives and real estate.
Kirk House has written a story explaining a little further about the aftermath of the flooding in New York’s Southern Tier (page 56). Some people have said it was the best thing that ever happened to these areas. I heard the same sentiments from others in Pennsylvania. The chance to rebuild bigger and better became an opportunity for many. But the loss of lives and history and homes is never a good thing.
I am thankful that we live in a part of the country that seems to be mostly safe from natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and floods. But sometimes nature rears its ugly head and reminds us that we should never take our sanctuary for granted.
Every day I am thankful to be a resident of the Finger Lakes Region. I think it’s one of the greatest areas I’ve ever experienced.
E-mail Mark with questions or comments at email@example.com