Honesdale, PA Flood, May 1942


HONESDALE, PA., May 23.----(UP)---Six persons were reported missing and believed drowned today in one of a series of flash floods that swept through Eastern Pennsylvania, making hundreds homeless and paralyzing transportation over wide areas.

The Lackawaxen River, fed by recent rains, burst through the Seeleyville Dam three miles above this Northeastern Pennsylvania community and sent a wall of water six feet deep rushing through the streets just before daybreak.

Telephone company officials reported several houses were toppled over by the flood and it was believed those missing were trapped in their sleep. Communication with the town was difficult.

Residents reported "only four or five houses" remaining on Delaware street in Honesdale where there had been 15.

"Most of the occupants of these houses were evacuated last evening but several may have stayed in the buildings," one said.

Marian Bussa, Honesdale correspondent for the Scranton Times, reported that she saw a house collapse and "there were people in it" because she "heard them scream."

G. Albert Stewart, State Secretary of forests and Waters, ordered district engineer Richard Batley of Wilkes-Barre to the Honesdale district to get rehabilitation work underway.

Train service was cut off completely.

A woman died in Montoursville, Lycoming County, of a heart attack after her home was surrounded by water. At Pottstown, near Philadelphia, a 63 year old widow collapsed and died of heart disease while trying to remove articles from the flooded cellar of her house.

The Federal-State Flood Forecasting Service at Harrisburg said only tributarities were at danger levels and that the levels of the bigger streams were not expected to reach damaging proportions.

Most of the creeks crested by dawn and were receding slowly.

Reports from the anthracite counties, particularly hard hit, indicated the property damage would run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An unidentified woman died of a heartattack at Montoursville, Lycoming County, after her house was surrounded by water.

Several collieries were forced to shut down as steadily climbing streams endangered underground workings. Sixteen miners fled to safety after surface waters flooded a mine near Hazleton.

The Schuylkill, Lehigh and Lackawanna Rivers and scores of tributaries rolled over their banks under the impetus of heavy recent rains, some of them up to 10 feet above flood stage.

At Williamsport, the Susquehanna climbed 16 feet to within three feet of flood stage, and Mayor Leo C. Williamson ordered a general alarm sounded by Fire Department to warn residents of the danger of backwater.

A father and his four children were marooned for several hours during the night on an island in Mu[ineligible] Creek, near Williamsport, after their wagon upset crossing the stream The water was ankle-deep on the island when firemen reached them.

At Reading, the Schuylkill River was expected to reach 21 feet, eight feet above flood stage to equal the disastrous 1933 flood. Fred Villfort, of the U S Employment Service, sent out a call for emergency workers.

In other areas, nine crews joined State Police and volunteer groups in removing persons and household goods from low lying sections.

Small bridges, retaining walls and small buildings throughout the region were swept away. A number of automobiles were abandoned by owners caught unawares by swiftly rising waters.

Flash floods in creeks running into Wilkes-Barre halted all railroad traffic to Mauch Chunk and southern points, ripped out a 100 foot stretch of wall and marooned 40 families in Miner's Mills. A Lehigh Valley freight station at Bear Creek was washed away.

Continued on page 2