Remembering the Great Flood of 55′

“Torrents were upon persons before they scare knew it. A giant had emptied a dishpan over the world and when the dishpan was empty, the skies began to lighten and clear… Water still ran wild in the countryside and stood deep where it has trespassed”
– WKNB Channel 30 Broadcast, 1955

66 years ago today, Cornwall was in the grip of the great flood of 55′. Besides the 1938 hurricane, the 1955 flood was arguably the largest natural disaster in North West Connecticut since colonial times.

The amount of rain that fell in August 1955 is so off the charts no event has come anywhere close to it in the last 100 years. That year’s monthly record of 21.87″ at Bradley Airport stands alone as the wettest month on record – the second-highest 16.32″ from October 2005 lags far behind. Two hurricanes brushed by southern New England in a week’s time, dropping an exceptional amount of water across parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Tropical Storm Connie and Tropical Storm Diane resulted in over two feet of rain in parts of the Northwest Hills and Berkshires.

We have included a nostalgic youtube video below on the 1955 Flood Story by WKNB Channel 30 (now WVIT). If you have memories of the great flood that you would like to share, you can contact us and we will post them on the Cornwall website.

Other Great Resources:

CPTV – The Flood of ’55
This documentary tracks the two hurricanes – Connie and Diane – that spawned record rainfall and turned mountain streams into raging torrents. Flowing into the larger rivers of western Connecticut, trillions of gallons of water swept down from the western hills and slammed into valleys and towns. Follow the dramatic story of tragedy and heroism, of the lives ended and the lives renewed.

Local Memories

I remember it well. The road down the middle of West Cornwall was a wide deep cavern. Bates meat market was completely washed away.
– J. Calhoun

All west Cornwall came out to help clean up, the woman made sandwiches and cookies
– M. Belter

I remember ankle deep water over the dock at CHLA. And I LOVE the reporter’s language!
– J. Bevans

It’s the source of my earliest memories- filling pots and pans with rain water, learning that water in toilet tank is clean (!), my Aunt Pris canoeing down Rt 4… Learned respect for nature then.
– C. Foote

My grandfather suffered for decades with a skin condition due to wading in the waters and helping to clean up. My parents were married that year and their new furniture washed away in Torrington.
– L. Blakey Welles

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