48th anniversary of the 1972 flood
ELMIRA, NY (WETM) – Today marks the 48th anniversary of one of the Chemung River Valley region’s most devastating events – the Flood of ’72.
We commemorate this day by looking back on how Elmira recovered from this natural disaster.
In the front row of the Flood, Water St., as its name, was full of water. When it cleared up, the people of Elmira had to find a way to recover. Chemung County Historical Society director Bruce Whitmarsh said Elmira is still fighting today.
“We’re seeing the reverse of this trend today as people are looking to come downtown,” Whitmarsh said. “Being able to walk to grocery stores, walk to restaurants, walk to activities instead of having a car. Elmira is benefiting from the trend we are seeing across the country.
Whitmarsh is part of this positive trend moving to Elmira from bustling DC
Almost all of the businesses that lined the Mark Twain Water Front Park in the 1970s no longer exist today. During the flood of ’72, the streets became rivers. The first floor of the Chemung Canal Trust Bank was swallowed up by water. Marketing consultant Mike Wayne talks about the tragedy.
“The main office building we are in today was only open 10 months, it opened at the end of August 1971,” said Wayne. “So it was a really devastating time for the bank and for the city of Elmira.”
Whitmarsh emphasized hindsight and learning history.
“From the decisions that were made after the 1946 flood, the decision was made to put up the great concrete wall along the river that runs through downtown Elmira,” Whitmarsh said. “And after the flood of 46, everyone said, ‘There’s no way this wall could be passed. “In 1972, this wall was passed.
What the flood of ’72 remembers is the Sullivanville Dam in Horseheads with a drainage area of almost 12,000 acres.