Connie and Diane
Hopedale in July
The cupola at Adin and Mendon streets
Connie and Diane, 1955
In August of 1955 two hurricanes hit Massachusetts just a few days apart and brought a huge amount of
rain with them. Here’s the story of the resulting flood, taken from several sources.
August 11, 1955 – Hurricane Danger Over – Threat to This Area Gone Says Weatherman
August 12 – New England Hurricane Alert Resumed
August 13 – Storm Course Shifts; Gusts Expected Here
August 15 – Polio Outbreak in Milford Area
August 16 – The headline story was about polio – Another front page article – Hurricane Diane Slated
to Hit Carolinas Tomorrow
August 17 – Hurricane Rams North Carolina
August 19 - $2 Million Damage in Flood, Hundreds Homeless in Milford – Rainfall total in Milford 10
inches – State of Emergency Declared by Selectmen – Worst Storm in History
In Hopedale, the pond overflowed and the Hope Street Bridge was declared unsafe. Freedom Street
was blocked and the Spindleville Mill dam overflowed. Water reached the seats of cars in the Draper
Corporation parking lot near the bridge and they had to be pushed or pulled out of the lot. Draper
workers were allowed to go home.
Streets in Hopedale washed out were Driftway, Cook Street and near Spindleville Pond.
August 20 – Floods Still Wreak Havoc in Milford; Many Rescued by Boat – Power Back – Damage
May Be $5 Million
August 20 – Cottage, Store, Mill Washed Out As Hopedale Dam Breaks
August 23 – President Seeks $75 Million for Relief of Flood Disaster in N.E. Flies Over Devastated
Area in Four States
August 24 – Ike Calls on Russians to End Subversive Activities (Evidently things were getting back to
August 27 – Use 2000 Tons of Material to Fill Hopedale Gap (Spindleville)
By the end of August there continued to be articles and many pictures of the flood in the paper, but the
big story by then was the polio epidemic. Headlines, etc. from Milford Daily News
The flood of August 18-23, 1955, was caused by Hurricanes Connie and Diane, which occurred days
apart; the result was loss of life and extensive property damage from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
Hurricane Connie ended what had been an extended dry spell. During August 11-16, total rainfall
ranged from 2 to 9 inches. This storm was followed by rainfall of from 2 to 19 inches from Hurricane
Diane during August 17-20. Flood stages were increased because of the failures of dams. Flood
peaks, which were increased by these dam failures, are the maximum known peak discharges along
the Blackstone River. The most damaging floods occurred from the Blackstone River west to the New
York state line. In Massachusetts, this flood caused 12 deaths and damage of about $133 million (U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, 1956).
In mid-August 1955, Hurricane Diane made landfall on the southeast coast of North Carolina less than
a week after Hurricane Connie brought heavy rain to New England.
Diane quickly weakened after striking the North Carolina coast, moved north and unleashed some of
the heaviest rain ever recorded in New England. As much as 19 inches of rain fell across
Massachusetts and northeast Connecticut setting rivers on a rampage that left devastated several New
England communities including Southbridge and Putnam.
Diane killed about 200 people during its trip along the east coast, mostly from flooding. A total of 87
people died in Connecticut, including 29 in Waterbury. Seven people died in central Massachusetts.
Damage totaled more than $800 million, which translates to about $5 billion in today's economy,
according to Weather.com.
The massive flooding prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a series of massive dams
in central Massachusetts to keep a similar occurrence from happening in the future.
Diane’s damage in dollars: (first number, 1955 dollars; second, 2005 dollars)
Uxbridge - $3,000,000; $20,600,000
Milford - $2,000,000; $13,7000,000
Northbridge - $800,000; $5,400,000
Hopedale - $270,000; $1,800,000
Upton - $200,000; $1,3000,000
Area deaths: Charlton, 5; Worcester, 1; Blackstone, 1
The Worcester Telegram
Pictures of the flood in Hopedale - The flood at Drapers The flood in Spindleville
Flood pictures from Uxbridge, Northbridge, Millbury, and Milford. (Just one from Milford – the last of the
15 photos was taken on Water Street.)
Flood photos from Southbridge
Wickipedia article on Diane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Diane
Robert P Congdon, 89, July 2, 2008, Mendon, HHS 1935.
Marjorie Ashe Sears, 88, July 2, 2008, Columbus, North Carolina.
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