July 15, 2008
    Hopedale History
    No. 112
    Connie and Diane

    Hopedale in July     

    The cupola at Adin and Mendon streets  


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                                                              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
    normal.)

    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   

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    Recent deaths:

    Robert P Congdon, 89, July 2, 2008, Mendon, HHS 1935.

    Marjorie Ashe Sears, 88, July 2, 2008, Columbus, North Carolina.

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