Disaster Upstate – August 1955
The summer of 1955 was abnormally dry for Connecticut, but that was quickly changed by two hurricanes which hit at the end of August. Hurricane Connie struck August 11th dumping 4 to 6 inches of rain over southern Connecticut and a week later Hurricane Diane roared up the coastline deluging the area with an additional record-breaking 20 inches of rain in two days. Flooding and destruction occurred from North Carolina to Massachusetts, but Connecticut was hit the hardest, especially in the areas along the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers.
During these hurricanes, Norwalk experienced only minor flooding along the shore. Residents watched the 5 o’clock news and saw the devastation and loss of lives in towns like Farmington, Winsted and Ansonia. But it never occurred to them that it would happen here. The Norwalk River was just a little trickle compared to the upstate rivers.
“I had just graduated from Norwalk High School in 1955 and as a summer job, I worked for the Norwalk Department of Public Works. There were two hurricanes in August and I remember that we were sent to Ansonia with the city trucks to help them out with the terrible floods they had there on the Naugatuck River.”
Jasper Freese, son of Mayor Irving C. Freese, 2005
“I worked for The Connecticut Power Company in 1955 and they sent us up to Torrington and Farmington for the August floods. We didn’t come home for two weeks. When I got back I told my wife, ‘Thank goodness we’ve never had anything like that in Norwalk.’ Two months later we did.”
George Roy, 2005
FLOODS BATTER THE NORTHEAST; 73 KILLED, DAMAGE IN BILLIONS; 4 STATES DECLARED EMERGENCIES; RAINS SET RECORDS
Emergencies were declared in the hardest-hit areas by the Governors of four states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Hurricane Diane, her winds reduced to a comparative whisper, had retained an unadvertised kick far worse than anything her winds could do. She sucked in vast quantities of moisture-laden air from over the Atlantic and then dumped the water by the ton in advance of her leisurely path.
New York Times, August 20, 1955