Writers Room Will Publish 50th Anniversary Account of ’55 Delaware Flood

Publication Announced
Archived Release – Release Date: October 4, 2004

Doylestown, PA – The Writers Room of Bucks County has signed a publishing agreement with local writer Mary A. Shafer of Upper Bucks County to produce an oral and pictorial history of the great flood of 1955. The book, entitled Devastation on the Delaware, will be published early next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the catatastrophic, hurricane-driven flood that killed nearly 100 people, wiped out bridges, and changed the character and culture of the Valley forever.

Devastation on the Delaware will be based on extensive interviews with eyewitnesses that Shafer has been conducting over the past year or more, and will include a rich collection of photos. Anyone with dramatic pictures or stories to tell are invited to submit them for inclusion to The Writers Room at 4 W. Oakland Ave., Doylestown, PA 18901.

Profits from the book will benefit The Writers Room’s programs and a portion of the proceeds will go to The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a Washington’s Crossing-based nonprofit that is devoted to protecting the natural balance of the sprawling Delaware watershed extending from the Catskills to Delaware Bay.

Foster Winans, Writers Room Executive Director, said the book represents the first foray of the nonprofit writers center into the publishing business. “Although we have produced four books for our writers under our new imprint, Writers Room Books,” said Winans, “Devastation on the Delaware will be the first title we have actually acquired in the traditional sense of licensing the copyright from the author.” Winans said he jumped at the idea when Shafer first proposed it. “Like many local residents, I was a witness to this calamity, a wide-eyed seven-year-old standing in the bright sunlight in Lumberville on August 19, 1955, watching whole houses racing downstream in the middle of a boiling river swollen beyond anyone’s memory or imagination.”

The flood, resulting from back-to-back hurricanes, destroyed several bridges that were never replaced, cutting communities in half; it left widespread devastation; it changed the way residents and land-use planners approached flood-plain building; it sparked a fierce debate over damming the river; and it left an indelible mark on the memories of all who experienced it. About 70 people staying at a summer camp upriver were washed away by a 40-foot wall of water, and bodies were still being recovered years later and miles away.”This will be a must-read in communities all along the Delaware next year,” said Winans, “no less so because of heightened interest by the recent flood triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Shafer is a consummate storyteller with a knack for making history come alive. She is also a self-described ‘weather weenie,’ fascinated and engaged by nature’s fury, drama, and history.”Funding to produce the book is being raised from local patrons. Anyone interested in contributing should call The Writers Room at 215-348-1663, or email info@writersroom.net.

The Writers Room of Bucks County, Inc. offers educational and professional-development programs for writers of all ages, genres, and experience; editorial and publishing services; and is publisher of The Bucks County Writer and Underage Thinking magazines. More information at www.WritersRoom.net.

The Delaware Riverkeeper and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) is committed to restoring the natural balance of the River, its tributaries, and its watershed where it has been lost, and ensuring its preservation where it still exists. It’s mission is to educate and engage communities and citizens to act and advocate for change. Contact: Maya van Rossum 215-369-1188. More info. at www.delawareriverkeeper.org.

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Mary Shafer of Ferndale is a freelance author and journalist.
610-847-2456 or floodbook AT thewordforge.com
Or directly contact the author