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

                                                                   *****

    See many more pictures of the flood in Hopedale at:  -   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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