Williamsport, MD flood, Mar 1936

WILLIAMSPORT, Md., March 18 (AP). - The worst flood in forty-seven years surged relentlessly down the Potomac River Valley Wednesday, inundating at least seven towns and making hundreds homeless.

Along a 100-mile stretch from Cumberland to Point of Rocks the flood crest rolled. It swept houses, bridges and livestock before it and left desoltation and destruction in its wake.

Only one death, and that indirect, was reported from the rampage of the usually placid river that flows in its upper reaches between Maryland and West Virginia and lower down between Maryland and Virginia.

No estimate could be placed on the property damage, but it easily was more than $1,000,000. Uncounted hundreds were driven from their flooded homes.

Railway and vehicluar transportation was stopped all through the stricken area because of washed out or shaky bridges and flooded roads. Communications were crippled only in isolated sections. Water from five to ten feet deep swirled through streets of the hapless towns in the path of the flood.

Town Is Inaccessible.

The Potomac reached a height of forty feet here, two feet above its highest mark during the Johnstown flood of 1889. At Hancock, twenty miles above here, the river rose twenty feet during the day to pass its high-water mark of forty-seven years ago.

Families wer driven from fifty homes in Hancock, where there was neither electric light nor drinking water. The town is inaccessible.

Several small buildings here were smashed to splinters by the rushing waters and a score or more homes were abandoned. The Potomac Edison power plant was forced to shut down and the town was plunged into darkness.

Twenty miles below here, Harper's Ferry, W. Va., at the juncture of the Potomac and the Shenandoah, was inundated and its residents were in despirate circumstances.

In the next twenty-mile stretch, the waters flooded the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad tracks at Brunswick and forced eight families to abandon their homes. The Maryland - Virginia bridge was closed at Point of Rocks.

One Dies of Heart Attack.

The flood crest moved from Cumberland, which with Ridgely, W. Va., across the river, was isolated.

The second largest city in Maryland, Cumberland was battered Tuesday night by a ten to fourteen-foot wall of water. It receded Wednesday leaving the city of 40,000 with forty homes swept away, hundreds homeless and all business and industry at a standstill.

The only fatality was recorded at Cumberland. A. M. Lichenstein died of a heart attack in the excitement.

Relief forces moved to aid residents of the stricken towns. The Red Cross, National Guard, State police, CCC and WPA combined to relieve suffering.

Gov. Harry W. Nice proclaimed a legal holiday at Cumberland so flooded banks could suspend business. He ordered a company of national guardsmen to Cumberland.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 19 Mar 1936