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September 29, 2005

New book covers Amateur Radio response to Flood

Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955, the first comprehensive documentary of the destruction wrought by the remnants of Hurricane Diane in the Delaware Valley, contains several accounts of rescue and recovery efforts aided by dedicated amateur radio operators during the aftermath of the disastrous weather event.

Though it happened fifty years ago, the event was an eerie precursor of current disaster scenarios surrounding Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, where disaster mitigation and recovery are concerned. Taking place in the era whose emergency response was dictated by the realities of the Cold War and a quasi-military Civil Defense structure left over from World War II, the 1955 flood wreaked havoc over the entire eastern seaboard. Massive property destruction and loss of life (up to 200 people were killed) occurred from the Carolinas north to the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas. And yet, for all its under-funded lack of structure, the net of public and private first responders, including ARES/RACES groups, performed with nothing less than astounding effectiveness.

Both during and after the storm, private “hams” were already mobilizing, some traveling from states away to help the Delaware Valley locate its missing, bring out its dead and finally, to get back on its feet. It’s a particularly nostalgic look at how amateur operators responded in a time of rapid technological development in mobile communications technology. Everything from truckloads of bulky, transistor tube-based home setups to the beloved “Gooney Boxes” played a role in keeping the recovery effort moving from Port Jervis, New York to Trenton, New Jersey. Such operators played a particularly important role in the hard-hit areas of Pennsylvania, including the Stroudsburgs near Delaware Water Gap, the Easton-Phillipsburg area, and the badly inundated summer colonies in northern Bucks and Northampton counties.

Hams will enjoy the accounts of operators doing what it took to make a difference in the devastated area: lugging their bulky equipment across dangerously high water streams still running swift before the flood even receded to get to isolated areas; setting up relay stations in jail cells; and participating in a regional net that worked in concert with Tobyhanna Signal Depot’s emergency MARS station to aid in search-and rescue deployment of aviation assets, troops and emergency supplies.

The book is a 6″ x 9″ softcover of 456 pages, with more than 100 historical photos and a dozen maps and diagrams. It retails for $19.95 and is due in the warehouse of the publisher, Word Forge Books, the first week of October. It should be available through major booksellers soon thereafter, and is already available for pre-order online at Devastation on the Delaware is written in narrative nonfiction style, a historically factual account that reads like a novel. It arrives just in time to be a thoughtful gift for the amateur radio enthusiast in your life.

CONTACT: Mary Shafer
TOLL-FREE 888-320-9673 or reply to this post.
BE ONE OF THE FIRST TO GET YOUR COPY! Pre-order Devastation on the Delaware, the first comprehensive documentary book of the deadly flood of August, 1955, available in October.

Bucks County Town & Country Living Magazine


Press Date: June 7, 2005 

(Summer 2005 issue)

The Great Flood of ’55

This heavily illustrated article ran ten pages in this popular Bucks County publication. It was written by the author with an emphasis on the events of 1955 in Bucks County.

Click on the image of the cover to see a larger version. To return to this page, click the Back button on your browser’s toolbar.


Weatherwise Magazine


Press Date: July/August 2005 issue

The Hurricane Floods
by Ben Gelber

This five-page article was written by the author’s colleague, Ben Gelber, who grew up in the Stroudsburg area, which was hardest hit of all areas in Pennsylvania by the August, 1955 floods. He used some of the author’s research and photo collection in writing the article. Ben’s early interest in the weather, fueled by stories of the flood, developed from a hobby to a vocation. Ben is the author of Pocono Weather and The Pennsylvania Weather Book, as well as a longtime on-air meteorologist at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio.



Shopping Scout: Saturday, November 19


Electric scooter: Anna of Easton has an electric scooter she is willing to sell to Dianna of Macungie. ”It is a 2004 Price Legend XL model SC940 four-wheel scooter. It is red and has many extras and includes the folding ramp,” she says. Shopping Scout will put them in touch.

8 mm projector: Miles of Allentown will be able to view those home movies thanks to readers who responded to his request for an 8 mm projector. Judy of Lehighton has an 8 mm projector she is willing to give to Miles. Cathy of Bethlehem also has a projector for Miles. Kristie of New Tripoli, Roberta of Allentown and Carl of Bethlehem all have 8 mm projectors they are willing to sell. Shopping Scout will put them in touch.

Shelled hickory nuts: Judy of Bethlehem will have the shelled hickory nuts she needs to make her grandmother’s hickory nut refrigerator cookie recipe. Mark of Walnutport and his grandmother have plenty of hickory nuts for Judy. Eleanor of Slatington has shelled hickory nuts she is willing to sell to Judy. Betty of Topton informs Shopping Scout that Judy can purchase hickory nuts at Echo Hill Country Store, Fleetwood R. 1 (610-944-7358). Shopping Scout will put them in touch.

Debbie Mumm dishes: Beth Ann of Bethlehem will be able to add some of those missing pieces to her Debbie Mumm dishes in the Snowman pattern. Nancy of Allentown has four eight-inch dessert plates and four mugs she is willing to sell to Beth Ann. Shopping Scout will put them in touch.

Micro-Go-Round: Ken of Allentown has a Micro-Go-Round for Claudine of Bethlehem. Shopping Scout will put them in touch.

Hurricane Diane book: Helen of Bethlehem and Carole of Williams Township have both suggested the same book, Diane Drowns the Delaware, for Judy of Chalfont. The book was originally published by The Express Times shortly after the 1955 flood. Helen and Carole are not sure if this book is still available. Carole suggests Judy check out a recently written book on the 1955 flood. Author Mary Shafer of Ferndale has published Devastation on the Delaware. The book contains never-before published photos, interviews with people with first-hand knowledge of the flood and info sources. The book is available at the Moravian Book Shop, 428 Main St., Bethlehem (610-866-5481) or visit

Furniture reupholstery: Chuck of Easton suggests Kathy of Northampton contact Easton Upholstery, 512 Northampton St., Easton (610-252-3169) to have her two wing chairs reupholstered.

Pillsbury bread maker: Jonelle of Catasauqua has a Pillsbury bread maker she is willing to sell to Bonnie of Allentown. ”I don’t think it was really ever used,” she says. Shopping Scout will put them in touch.


Wide-width wheelchair: Beatrice of Slatington is looking for a wide-width wheelchair for a family member.

Elliptical trainer: Maureen of Bethlehem Township is looking for an elliptical trainer for her husband who quit smoking last year and has gained some extra weight.

Wood splitter: Herbert of Bethlehem Township is looking for a used wood splitter.

Puppy crate: Harriet of Bethlehem is looking for a ”gently used” puppy crate. Needed is the 24-by-19-by-17-inches size. ”I need the crate for a little Bichon grand puppy who will be visiting over the holidays,” she says.

Good Housekeeping Encyclopedia of Gardening: Marilyn of Allentown is looking for volumes 1, 13 and 14 of the Good Housekeeping Encyclopedia of Gardening for her mother. ”It was published in 1972 by the book division of Hearst Magazines, New York. I had tried many years ago to obtain copies from the publisher, but it was then already out of print,” she says.

Metal kitchen cabinets: Michelle of Northampton is doing some remodeling in her kitchen and is looking for two wall-mounted metal kitchen cabinets. The cabinet size needed is 24 inches wide by 30-inches high by 12-to-13-inches deep and should have two doors.

Avon ornaments: Debbi of Bangor is looking for two pewter Avon ornaments. ”I am missing 1993 ‘Father Time’ and the 1998 ornament (not sure of the name),” she says.

Cat Hall of Fame figure: Sharyn of Easton is looking for a Cat Hall of Fame figure called ”Betty Crockat.” ”I have tried everywhere, including all the collectible venues on the Internet,” she says.

Clairol Condition: Barb of Emmaus is looking for jars or tubes of Clairol Condition that has been discontinued. Barb is also looking for Yendi perfume made by Capucci and Maroc perfume made by Revlon, also discontinued.

Scanner repairs: Edwin of Easton is looking for someone who can repair a Uniden Bearcat BC-170 scanner.

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Copyright © 2006, The Morning Call

Recalling the Flood of ’55

by Hilary Bentman – The Intelligencer

Mary Shafer of Ferndale is writing a book about the bad flood of 1955. Schafer has been working on the project for the past two years.......09-21-04 Rick Kintzel/The Intelligencer

Mary Shafer of Ferndale is writing a book about the bad flood of 1955. Shafer has been working on the project for the past two years…….09-21-04 Rick Kintzel/The Intelligencer

Mary Shafer of Nockamixon has spent years scouring archives, and traversing the banks of the Delaware River for Devastation on the Delaware, a book about the 1955 flood.

Photo by Rick Kintzel

It is mid-August 1955.

In Erwinna, 20-year-old Dick DeGroot is trying to get back to Fordham University in New York to begin his senior year of college. But he’s stranded — the bridges are out.

In Lumberville, Bill and Sue Tinsman are forced to use a rowboat to get into the second floor of their home to grab dry clothes for their children. The first floor is underwater.

In Carversville, Edwin Harrington is in his Jeep, the only four-wheel-drive vehicle in town. He’s on a food and beer run for his neighbors.

In Upper Black Eddy, May Snyder is watching a small cottage — lifted off its foundation by the torrent of water — smash into the side of a bridge. She also watches as her town’s little post office just floats away.

Nearly 50 years have passed, but these memories are ingrained in the minds of those who call the Delaware River home. They can’t forget the flood of 1955.

From Aug. 18 to 20, torrential rain from Hurricane Diane flooded homes, lifted buildings from foundations, overtook bridges and melded the Delaware Canal and the river into one.

“It rained so hard for so long. You knew it was not going to be good,” remembers Sue Tinsman. “The stench… the cesspools flooded, oil tanks flooded; the horror of the whole thing. You think about what people are going through this year.”

To some, it seemed last weekend that Diane had reared its ugly, wet head again as river residents endured another storm and another flood. This one was Ivan, and by the time the water began to recede, it had caused the river to crest to more than 30 feet in some spots, forced about 2,500 people from their homes, and caused an estimated $25 million in damages.

But, locals say, that’s nothing compared to the devastation of Diane.

“It was terrifying and fascinating at the same time. It was like watching a house burn down, a morbid fascination,” said DeGroot, who remembers watching chicken coops float downriver, with chickens still perched on top.

These are some of the memories Mary Shafer is trying to capture in her book Devastation on the Delaware, a look at the ’55 flood. The Nockamixon author has spent the past couple of years scouring archives, interviewing residents, and traversing the banks of the Delaware River, from Port Jervis, N.Y. to Trenton, N.J.

Shafer got some firsthand eperience to top off her reserach last weekend when she watched how fast the water came rushing past her home on Center Hill Road. “It really brought it home to me,” she said.

Hurricane Diane landed in North Carolina and proceeded north toward Pennsylvania, following in the footsteps of sister Connie, which had soaked the parched, drought-stricken Delaware Valley just days before. On Aug. 18, Diane dumped nearly a foot of rain on parts of eastern Pennsylvania.

By the time Diane dissipated, not before wreaking havoc on New England, the storm was responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and killed 184 to 200 people, including young children staying at Camp Davis in Analomink in the Poconos.

“It hit us all by surprise. The Poconos and Catskills flooded and down it came,” said Harrington, 84. “I found the whole town of Carversville rolled up in a ball. The roads were all rolled up. Water had ripped through the middle of town.”

Diane invaded a world that some today may not recognize. It would be years before The Weather Channel, the Internet, Doppler radar and round-the-clock storm coverage.

“No one had a television. You were lucky if you had a telephone,” said deGroot, whose family, which owned the general store in Revere, had one of the few phones in town. “This was a very poor area.”

And Shafer adds that radar was still primitive. “We were only 10 years off World War II.”

Information about flooding came trickling down through a network of neighbors telling neighbors and through the bridge officers working for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge commission, said Shafer. But some didn’t get the news until water arrived at their doorsteps. And the weather on Aug. 19, the day it flooded, was no indication of the problems looming.

“It was 94 degrees. A beautiful, sunny, hot and muggy day, and nobody had a clue,” Shafer said.

For some, worse than the actual flooding were the weeks and, in some cases, years of cleanup.

In Lumberville, the Tinsmans’ house collected about 7 feet of water. They never lived there again and instead sought higher ground. And the family’s lumber business had about 12 feet, said Bill Tinsman. “The entire business was wiped out. There were lumber piles all over the place. It took three or four years slopping around there to clean up the mess,” he said.

In Upper Black Eddy, May Snyder’s ice cream shop and luncheonette near the Milford bridge was a washout. “We sold it. We lost a lot of money and had to put in a new heater. The ice cream was no good. We didn’t want to stay there.”

In New Hope, employees of a bank on Main Street spent hours trying to save soaked bills, bonds and stock certificates. A little ironing and clothespins did the trick, Shafer said.

And up and down the Delaware, residents remember food pantries set up, the typhoid shots given, and Mennonites coming in from other areas to help out.

Despite the damage in 1955 and the ever-present threat that the Delaware will rise above its banks again, many, like Mildred Williams of Kintnersville, choose to stay where they are. She has called this river home for more than 85 years.

“I think the Delaware is one of the most beautiful rivers,” Williams said.”It’s very treacherous and you never know where there’s a hole or eddy, but I have great respect for the river.”


Devastation on the Delaware Tells Flood Stories

Breaking News

Pocono Record Writer

It touched her so much, she couldn’t help but write about it.

So for three years, that’s what Bucks County writer Mary A. Shafer did: research and write about the Flood of 1955. The culmination of her work is Devastation on the Delaware, a narrative nonfiction documentary book based on the events of the Aug. 18-19 flood that raged down the Delaware River valley, from New York state to Philadelphia.

“It’s been an obsession, really,” she said. “Not in a bad way. But it’s just been something I’ve been so interested in. It’s been an amazing project.” The ruins the flood made of the Poconos is an integral part of the book. Shafer researched the damage done throughout the area, including the ravaging of a spot that came to be known as Camp Davis, just south of Analomink. Camp Davis was a group of about 12 cabins inhabited by summer visitors attending the nearby Pinebrook Bible Conference Center. Thirty-eight adults and children died when the site was wiped out by the raging Brodhead Creek. Only nine people who were there that night survived. In her initial interviews of witnesses to the flood, Shafer found her idea for a book would be well-received, if a bit hesitantly.

“The first thing I found is that people still have a hard time talking or even thinking about it,” Shafer said about the flood that killed 78 people in Monroe County. “But the other thing I found was that when I told them I was working on a book about the flood, the response was almost always the same — it’s about time.”

Devastation on the Delaware will be published Oct. 1 by Word Forge Books, a division of the author’s freelance writing business. The 6- x 9-inch softcover book is 440 pages, with more than 75 black-and-white photographs, 10 maps and diagrams. For information, see, or call toll free, (888) 320-9673. Fifty cents from each copy sold will be donated to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Copyright © August 15, 2005, Pocono Record
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From: “What’s New on Cyndi’s List”<> (by way of Cyndi Howells <>)
Subject: December 27, 2005
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2006 01:28:54 -0800


TITLE: Devastation on the Delaware Book
DESCRIPTION: The first comprehensive
documentary of the 1955 flood on the Delaware
River, caused by Hurricane Diane. Covers both
sides of the river from Port Jervis, NY to
Trenton, NJ. Affected areas of NY, NJ and PA.
Includes in-depth treatment of the washing away
of Camp Davis in Monroe County, PA, where almost
80 people were killed, including some entire
families. 456 pp. narrative non-fiction,
illustrated with 12 maps & diagrams, 105 historic
photos. Fully indexed, appendices.

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