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1946 - STATE OF EMERGENCY - Flood Waters Cover Elmira Business Area

ELMIRA (AP). - Flood waters six inches deep swept through Elmira's main business district today and Mayor Emory Strachen declared a state of emergency.

The rain-swollen Chemung River rose 18 feet, more than a foot above flood stage, overnight.

Fire Chief Louis Mosher broadcast an appeal for everyone "who can lift a shovel to get out and work."

NO CASUALTIES were reported. Woodrow W. Ott, manager of radio station said, "the city faces imminent disaster and the water is rising so rapidly it's almost unbelievable."

A few minutes earlier, Police Chief Elvin D. Weaver said water had inundated the main thoroughfare of downtown Elmira, Water st., which parallels the river.

Ott said Main and Water sts., the main intersection in the city of 50,000, was under about six inches of water.

He said there was no estimate as to when the flood crest would be reached.

WEAVER CALLED police reserves and said he had doubled the day shift.

He said Wisner Park, in the business district was "not quite under water" but that it was rising in the streets surrounding the plaza.

First reports indicated several communities were isolated or partially isolated by recent rains and that damage may run into thousands of dollars.

Of the two landslides reported, one was two miles west of Owego, Tioga County, and the other along Route 10 near Deposit where the highway was open only for oneway traffic.

FLOOD CONDITIONS threatened Watkins Glen and Montour Falls, both Schuyler County. Glen Creek had risen to flood proportions and store owners in Watkins Glen moved stock to places of safety. Catherine Creek spilled over its banks, inundating Route 14 and partially isolating Montour Falls, where firemen patrolled the streets to help cope with the emergency.

The Allegany River a Olean was 11 feet above normal last night and rising at the rate of a half foot an hour.

NELSON FULLER, superintendent of the Olean Water Department, predicted the river would rise to 16 feet. The city, scene of a flood four years ago which caused $2,000,000 in damage and resulted in two drownings, is protected by a dyke system up to a 21-foot flood stage.

The Olean airport was under water and several planes were moved to high ground.

THE SUSQUEHANNA River overflowed between Binghamton and Elmira and state police said Route 17 connecting the Southern New York cities was impassable.

The Elmira-Waverly highway and two main routes connecting Elmira and Corning were under water in places.

The Chemung River rose over its banks flooding Route 427 between Wellsburg and Wilawana, Pa., and Seeley Creek overflowed at the town of Southport covering Route 14.

STATE POLICE said Route 17 between Jasper and Woodhull in Steuben County was under 25 inches of water and Route 219 between Limestone in Cattaraugus County and Bradford, Pa., was under 30 inches. They said these roads were closed.

The Army supply depot at Horseheads offered to make available trucks and boats if needed and the state public works department office at Hornell sent out trucks to patrol a six-county area and check on road damage.

DOWNSTATE, in Yonkers, homes and stores were flooded by rain which exceeded four inches in 24 hours and light and telephone service was disrupted by accompanying gales. Some roads were washed out.

The community of Elkland, Pa., 60 miles southwest of Elmira, was isolated by the overflowing Cowanesque River on one side and Tannery Creek on the other.

Syracuse Herald Journal, Syracuse, NY 28 May 1946

A WOMAN tentatively identified as Mrs. William Womer and her baby were pulled unconscious from the Conhocton River shortly after 1 P.M. Volunteer firemen applied artificial respiration for more than an hour without success.

The Corning Leader said residents of the section believed three or four neighbors had been lost when a boat capsized during the night.

THE ELMIRA Star-Gazette failed to publish when its newsprint became water-soaked and power failed. Officials said, however, that some gas and electricity was available in a few sections of the city.

The only entrance to the city remaining open was the highway to Watkins Glen.

One fire department squad rescued a woman and two children who had been temporarily isolated by the flood waters.

NO LOSS of lives was reported in Elmira although damage was expected to run above the $100,000 mark. A run on foodstuffs in stores not affected by the flood was reported. Police reported that all industries had suspended operations.

Syracuse Herald Journal, Syracuse, NY 28 May 1946

ELMIRA, N. Y., Chemung Valley city of 50,000, was hardest hit. Here, half the city was inundated when the rampaging Chemung spilled over its banks in what authorities described as the worst disaster of its type since memorable floods of 1889 and 1909.

But the river receded almost as rapidly as it had risen and by dawn had dropped from a peak 21 feet above normal at mid-afternoon yesterday to 13 feet. Downtown streets were dry.

ELMIRA'S entire business area was under water at the peak of the flood. The level rose with spectacular swiftness early yesterday and by noon as much as six feet of water spilled through the main business thoroughfare.

MR. AND MRS. Avro C. Lumbard, each 70, were rescued from a tree early today by police after having been washed away in their West Elmira cottage by a torrent.

Syracuse Herald Journal
Syracuse, New York
May 29, 1946

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