Readers comment on Devastation on the Delaware.
If you’ve read the book and have a comment, please let us know.
Floods like this will happen again. We need to be prepared for the next flood like this.
Wonderful book, well written with lots of interesting accounts and photos. It’s a fascinating and terrifying historical account of the Hurricane Connie and Diane floods in August of 1955. It’s particularly interesting to me because I work in the Musconetcong River Watershed and have witnessed a couple of serious floods along the Musky and Delaware Rivers, over the past 10 years. I am very familiar with most of the locales referenced in this book and have seen some of those areas in flood stage. Of course, back in 1955 the National Weather Service existed, but there were none of the modern weather forecasting tools that we have today. Also, communications back then were very limited. There was no good way to notify all the citizens that they were in harm’s way. It was an epic tragedy that many people along the river still remember today. Everyone needs to keep in mind that floods of this magnitude can and will happen again and all people who live in and around the Delaware Watershed need to know this will happen again.
– Chuck Gullage
“…so valuable and readable”
“I find this book so valuable and readable. I also enjoyed my conversation with Mary. I have been to many of the places, including the Boy Scout Camp at Pahaquarry.”
– Adrienne Gallagher
“…corrected a lot of inaccuracies and hearsay”
“It was a calling for you to do this book, and you fulfilled it. It gave the best account of a disaster people recall to this day, and corrected a lot of inaccuracies and hearsay over the years. I’ve been an attendee of Pinebrook in Stroudsburg and was well aware of the disaster there and at the adjoining Camp Davis. Excellent book and excellent account!”
– Paul Eichlin • Washington, NJ
“…allowed me to gain a little more perspective…”
I came across your book, Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955, which allowed me to gain a little more perspective on what experiencing a flood of such magnitude is like. Your book has also allowed me to begin to grasp how many people’s lives are truly disrupted by floods.
– Amanda Berger • Lafayette College Student
Grateful for relatives’ story
I read a portion of your book and I was grateful that you told the story of how my great grandmother (Minnie Burd and her husband, David Burd) passed. They lived on Day Street and Lenox Avenue [in East Stroudsburg]. There is more to that story, because their lives were so tragic.
If the flood hadn’t killed my great-grandma, there is a good chance I would have known her in my lifetime. It was really sad to hear of the circumstances of her death and I don’t even think my grandmother had the whole story. My mother mentioned something about a boat trying to rescue them and I was hoping to validate the story.
I will be purchasing your book as I think my mom would want to read it. Thank you.
– Maurice McGeehan
Warrington reader remembers stories of the aftermath
I am enjoying your book about the 1955 storms and ensuing flood of the Delaware River. For years, I have driven past the “high water mark” painted on the rock formation along the River Road, and took it for granted. I was born in 1957 and was blessed to experience “Sunday drives” up and down routes 32 and 611. Your book brings back many memories of my dad teaching us about the various floods over the years. Thanks again for your hard work and diligent research.
– Don Trost • Warrington, PA
“…an outstanding read.”
I just wanted to say that I read your book with great interest. I lived through the great flood of ’55. Our house was located on Mechanic Street across from the Bucks County Playhouse, so we were hit hard, not only by the river but also by the canal. Guess that makes me a “river kid.” Some of the photos and names of people in your book brought back memories and also, memories of people and places from before, during and after the flood. After the flood, even as a youngster, I never looked at the Delaware the same. As you quoted in your book: “Ours is a place in nature, not on top of it.” I just wanted to say thank you for writing the book. It was an outstanding read.
“…a very important and captivating story…”
I must commend your effort in writing this book. This was obviously a monumental effort, well beyond anything you must hae imagined when you began. But it is a very important and captivating story, and I am glad that you persevered through it to produce such a well-written and captivating book. It is wonderful of you to tell the stories of the people who were so significantly affected, especially since many of those stories would have been lost to posterity in the coming years.
– Tom Fusillo • Lambertville, NJ
“I recommend it to almost everyone.”
I finished your book and not being a fellow weather weenie…I did find it to be a great book, wow! I was here during the electrical outage with my miner’s light on and my glasses frosting up, but I couldn’t put it down. I recommend it to almost everyone…What a project!!
– Louann Timochenko • Bucks County, PA
“You did your homework.”
I enjoyed your book Devastation on the Delaware. I just finished reading it and learned a lot about the river’s 1955 flood. You did your homework. I’m a retired Navy weather forecaster who is also a river rat fanatic.
– Jim McKay • Philadelphia, PA
“Oh, what endless memories your book revived!”
Your book was on display at a recent Camp Miller staff reunion held in Allentown, PA. I purchased a copy by mail and just finished reading it. What a tremendous effort you put into this remarkable book. What memories it brought back!
I attended Miller as a camper from 1947 to 1953. I returned as a counsellor in 1954. All three of my children were campers there in the late 60’s and 70’s. My wife Kit and I met in late 1954, and were scheduled to attend Camp Ministerium in August of 1955. We fell deeply in love and because of external pressures, decided to elope. Our choice, because we were teenagers, was Raleigh, NC. Thus we missed the experience of the flood, but instead got married on 8-10-55.
Our Camp Miller reunion included remarks by those present at the time of the flood. I am extremely grateful for your book and will now pass it to my son, who attended the reunion with me. There was an area in New Jersey called Worthington Forest that had a lake at the top of a steep trail called Hidden Lake or Sunfish Pond. The Appalachian Trail passes by the area. This was a great hike across the river from camp, and I returned several times as an adult. Unfortunately, this would have been one of the focal points of the Tocks Island project.
Oh, what endless memories your book revived!
– Frank Hall • Allentown, PA
“The individual stories read like a great novel.”
Some time ago, a friend gave me a copy of your book. I paged thru and read the captions beneath the pictures and then put it aside with plans to read later. It was just a short time ago I began reading Devastation on the Delaware in earnest. I am nowhere near finishing, but wanted to tell you how impressed I am with your book. The individual stories read like a great novel.
I happen to have a home on the river in Montague. During the first of the recent floods we were in the process of tearing down an old cottage and rebuilding. The carpenters were on the second floor during the first flood. Meanwhile, I was in our home in Springtown / Pleasant Valley, watching the USGS site for Montague and upriver. At about 125,000 cfs, I called the workmen and they reported all was well, albeit the water was over the top of the bank and creeping up the lawn. A short time later, they called to tell me there was 8-9 inches in the basement. Water came within 30-35 feet from the house.
The next day, we went up and the water was receding. As it dropped down over the bank, I could see something white sticking out of the river bank, about 3 feet down. Later, I called the builder to find out they had put a drainage pipe out the river bank. There is more to this story but the short version is I had them put a one-way valve on the pipe.
My wife and I were at the house for the next two floods in ’05 and ’06. Water came up to the deck (12 feet from the house) in both floods. Some frightening moments and some funny incidents, but we managed to stay dry in the house and basement. We were told to evacuate twice. The first time, I marked the highest point and went to a neighbor’s house to wait it out. An hour later, I checked the mark and it was hardly changed. Another hour and it had receded a just a bit. We came back and watched from our deck.
Sounded like a dozen freight trains coming down the river. There is an island in front of us, and we watched tree after tree on it break with a loud crack, go under and then pop up further downriver. The upper and lower parts of the island are devastated (borrowing your word) and sadly, the island is being taken over by an invasive plant called Japanese Knotweed.
I really do appreciate your book! Having experienced Delaware River flooding, it has special meaning to me.
– Bill Guthier • Montague, PA
“CANT PUT IT DOWN!”
I had to tell you, I started reading the book last night and CANT PUT IT DOWN! My Mom loves it too!
“It’s a masterpiece.”
OMG. My eyes are bleary from reading and absorbing (and crying). It’s a masterpiece. I got through it for content and now I am going to go back to the beginning and start again for myself, to be able to absorb it emotionally. With love from a girl who went to the Branchville Fair every year of her childhood.
– Diana Strinati Baur • Germany (formerly of Milford, PA)
Author of True Vines
“Thank you so much for writing this book.”
“I went swimming in Eddie Burd’s backyard.”
My claim to fame is my picture in the photo essay book, published by The Easton Express about a week after the flood: “Diane Drowns Delaware Valley.” Counting from the first page, it is page 10. I was standing on the steps of Widenour’s Hardware store, on the extreme right side. I was 12 years old. I also (not so fondly) remember having to get three sets of shots to prevent some kind of fever; my own fault, as I went swimming in Eddie Burd’s backyard.
– Rennie Parcesepe • Frenchtown, NJ
“Your book perfectly depicts the times…”
– Tom Liebert • Cedar Key, FL
“…very helpful in my genealogy research.”
– Geroge Prochaska • Sagamore Hills, OH
“Brings you right to the forefront of the action…”
“What a project!”
Wow! I read the flood book, and couldn’t put it down! It was a wonderful read, and your writing style could only be described as “fresh.” You’re a good storyteller, and you deserve the great success that the book has achieved!
– Sue Bertrand • Arvada, CO
“A remarkable piece of literature.”
I purchased your book for my husband as a gift for Father’s Day on June 15, 2006. We flooded on June 28, 2006. During the endless nights of no heat, no plumbing and no water in a gutted house, with my home ten feet in the air, cribbing holding us up and only a ladder to get in and out, I read your book. I realized once again how blessed I was to have my family and my life. I knew there was a brighter day coming. The people you wrote about who lost their lives in August, 1955 enter my mind each day and exit with a prayer. Reading about the most devastating flood ever and experiencing three has changed my life forever. Thank you for such a remarkable piece of literature, and thank you for touching my life. Your book was truly a mental healing inspiration for me.
– Sherry Specht • at home along the Delaware
“Just plain masterful.”
I bought a copy of your book and have absorbed it, cover to cover. It is a great piece and reads like a first-person interview at the time of the flood. Your research is just plain masterful. Your work paints the broad, realistic picture. Thanks for producing such a real and personal view of the flood and the impacts on valley people.
– Lyal Gordon • San Antonio, TX
I only “skimmed” your book but already I’m impressed. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it, and want to congratulate you for all your work and putting together something that is extremely valuable.
– Vernon Wehrung • Upper Bucks County, PA
“Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.”
I just finished reading your book, which I only started a few days ago. I had to keep going and, due to the fairly warm weather here in Washington Crossing, PA, it was not hard to stay inside and read. I was actually scared to start, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. Thanks for writing and sharing the personal stories that put this historical event into some perspective for me and all those who read it. Life on the river is a joy at times, and also an incredible stressor. Respecting it as a living force is, for me, the key.
– Nancy Hendrickson • Washington Crossing, PA
“If you’re a history buff, get a copy.”
An easy read with a lot of old photos of the damage on the river and real life accounts of the events before, during and after the storms. Even a picture of Forest Park in Chalfont underwater. If you’re a history buff or just want to go back in time, get a copy.
– Mike in VA • Central Bucks West High School Class of ’61
“It gave me a chill up my spine.”
I read the book several times. I love to raft the river from Frenchtown to Lambertville. When I finished your book, the one part that stuck in my mind was the part that you were writing this book during the ’04 and ’05 floods, and THAT IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN! That gave me a chill up my spine when I read it, and when I got together after work with some friends down in Frenchtown by the river, we talked about that sentence.
– Keith Dinsen • Delaware River fan in NJ
“You’ve got more than enough for a movie here.”
The book is great!!! I didn’t realize how extensive it was. You’ve got more than enough for a movie here. Probably be about ten times better than just about anything Hollywood is doing, anyway. Thanks.
– John Malack • Quakertown, PA
“I was fascinated by your book.”
For several nights during the winter, I was fascinated by your book, Devastation on the Delaware. I read the book with a map at my side, and that was so interesting. This past week, we drove down route 611 to Doylestown, and the book came alive once more.
That summer, I was preparing to enter my senior year at Easton High School. Since I had lived through it, I thought I had read all of the stories and facts, but you proved me wrong. You found anecdotes and facts that no one else had covered. Thank you.
– Janet Herr • Easton High School Class of ’56
“It was awesome!”
I was able to obtain Devastation on the Delaware and found it so wonderfully written. I was engrossed the whole time and hated to put it down. You did a great job. Even though I was involved in it, I never realized the complete horrors of it. Living up here in the Poconos, I know the places you wrote about that were affected so much more than we were, and my husband and our kids went to Camps Miller and Hagan. We live right off Route 940 and the twin Pocono Lakes. It was awesome! Good job!
– Carol Wolf • Poconos resident
“I will enthusiastically recommend your book!”
I received Devastation on the Delaware as a Christmas present. I read it from cover to cover, and I found it to be fascinating.
Growing up in East Stroudsburg, PA, I heard people talking about the Flood of ’55. My parents explained to me that the Interborough Bridge between East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg was built to replace the bridge that was destroyed during the flood, and that the levees along the Brodhead Creek were built to prevent another flood. I had heard about Camp Davis, but I didn’t know where it was or what happened there. Up until I read your book, the Flood of ’55 was always something that, to me, was somewhat abstract.
After I read your book, it seemed real to me. From the personal accounts you had, I was able to visualize what happened during the flood and the things that the people went through. The factual portions of your book gave me knowledge of what had happened. At some point in my life, I had been to every community in the Poconos and the Delaware Valley you had written about. Until I read your book, I never fully appreciated how destructive and devastating the flood was.
I will enthusiastically recommend your book to anyone who is interested in regional history!
– Bill McFadden • former Monroe County resident
“You have made this book so interesting…”
Wow! You have made this book so interesting by writing in the first person, like we are walking around town, etc. You deserve all of the credits and kudos you are getting, and then some. This is really a great book! Thank you for telling my story. (Author’s note: Barbara is one of those interviewed for the book, and her story appears in it.)
– Barbara Jean Fletcher Stires • 1955 Flood Survivor
“Wow, that’s really good!”
Having just completed the reading of your book, I couldn’t wait to tell you what a great job you did!! Your structure and narrative style are masterful, to say the least. I enjoyed how you allowed us to know those whose lives were forever changed by this tragedy, and I found myself many times saying, “Wow, that’s really good!” after reading so many of your descriptive passages.
Thank you for writing the book that needed to be written. You have also educated us on the details of the tragedies that occurred on the tributaries of the Delaware, such as the Brodhead. Although we were aware of some of the details, your book has allowed those of us who live along the main stem of the Delaware to know the true stories of the victims of these tributaries.
– Rick Fortner • Sparrows Point, MD
“Keeps the pages turning!”
I’m in chapter 6 in your book and it’s hard to put down. I went to school with many of the kids in your book so that personalizes it, but the way your narrative is divided into different characters along the river makes the reader keep the pages turning!!
– Nancy Krial, Teacher
Durham-Nox & Tinicum Elementary Schools • Upper Bucks County, PA
“…a treasure from many points of view.”
We’re still talking about your book, as some of my family live in the Poconos and were amazed to learn how much devastation took place there. It is a terrific read — a devastating read! Thank you, Mary, for whatever it took to produce this volume. It is a treasure from many points of view.
– Ingeborg Snipes • Lambertville, NJ
“I couldn’t put it down!”
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your new book. I couldn‘t put it down and read it in three days. I gave several books as presents to old hometown friends at Christmas.
Your research was amazing and it was obvious that you really dedicated yourself to doing the definitive work on the ’55 flood. Thank you. It was a story that needed detailed telling and the way you interwove the stories was terrific.
– D. Randy Riggs • San Francisco
“I never dreamt it was as bad as you described it.”
I have read your book and I could not put it down until it was finished! We picked up a copy of the book a couple of months ago. I finished it a few weeks ago, and now it’s my mother’s turn to read it. I am 44 years old and have been in love with the river all my life. My mom would mention the flood now and then, but I never dreamt that it was as bad as you described it. Thank you for writing the book.
– Katharine Heller • Lumberville, PA
“… Turning history into a human story.”
It is wonderful, if that is appropriate to say about a book that deals with such a terrible disaster. Thank you for turning that piece of Delaware River history into such a human story.
– Nancy M. Wolfe-Kennedy • Lambertville, NJ
“…something only an artist can do.”
Just finished Devastation on the Delaware and wanted to commend you for a job well done. All floods are tragic, we see that on TV, but the flood of 1955 was unique and unprecedented. Having lived through it and now reading your account, I can only wonder how no one thought to write the story before.
Devastation answered all the questions (what the hell IS an inch of rain anyway?). Your description of the WAY the river flooded, cause and effect, storms stalled against the mountains, rampaging creeks, put it all into sequence and gave events the magnitude they deserve.
Alternating overview with personal perspective was the perfect approach. The blind horse and the cagey crocodile, the little girl left in the temporary morgue…these are images that should endure. And now, thanks to you, they will. For me, above all, you captured the feeling, calling it back after fifty years, something only an artist can do. So thanks.
– Tom Larsen • New Hope, PA
“I never realized…”
Just finished your book — great reading! The research that you did is fantastic. I grew up in Doylestown and was 13 years old at the time, sitting high and dry, so the extent of the damage didn’t make much of an impression on me. I never realized the destruction in the Easton-Pocono area was so extensive.
In later years, I spent many hours exploring the roads of upper Bucks County along the river. The high water marks and washed out bridges will be a lifelong reminder. The best reason to read this book: The pillars of the long-gone bridges and the high water marks along Pennsylvania Route 32 bear silent witness to the devastation of August 1955.
Anyone who lived anywhere near the Neshaminy Creek should get this book, an easy read with a lot of old photos of the damage on the river and real-life accounts of the events before, during and after the storms. If you’re a history buff or just want to go back in time, get a copy.
– Mike Evangelista • Dillwyn, VA
“I felt I knew those people you wrote about.”
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Devastation on the Delaware. So many places you wrote about are familiar to me. Having lived in Yardley during this time, I certainly recall the havoc the river caused. Plus, spending my summers hiking, canoeing and biking in the Water Gap area, I felt I knew those people you wrote about. Thanks for bringing back memories both good and bad.
– Nancy Herr • Pipersville, PA
“…a very enjoyable and informative book…”
I’ve just finished your book and want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the read. So many parts of the story were of interest to me.
I grew up in Northampton, PA along the Lehigh, and one of my earliest memories (at the age of 3) is that of my parents rushing me to a friend’s house a block further uphill during the ’55 flood. My father spoke endlessly of cleaning the mud and throwing rugs and furniture out into the receding waters. Later, while attending East Stroudsburg University in the early 70’s, I recall often hearing professors and locals talk about how the flood changed the two ’Burgs.
Once again, thank you for a very enjoyable and informative book.
– Bill Harder • Coopersburg, PA
“The stories are amazing.”
I knew there was devastation from the ’55 flood, but I could never imagine all that you presented in the book. The stories are amazing. I commend you for your research and how you were able to let all those stories tell the story of the flood. Your book is great, and I would like to buy at least two of them for my neighbors on the river. Thanks.
– William Watras • Harmony, NJ
Just finished Devastation on the Delaware. Incredible storytelling! The recounting of the many individuals who were lost, rescued or doing the rescuing read as if author Mary A. Shafer had experienced each event as a witness. We moved to Sussex County, NJ in the mid-1980s, so I was fortunate enough to meet and befriend some who experienced it firsthand from the New Jersey side of the Delaware. Also, having explored and enjoyed much of the Wallpack and Stokes National Recreation Areas, I was somewhat familiar with the displacement of generations of landowners due to the Tocks Island Dam project. But I had no understanding of the vast destruction of the many communities along the Delaware, nor the devastation of Easton, Stroudsburg and Newton, NJ, and other large communities. I will recommend this book to all my friends. I really enjoyed reading this book.
– Chris Kluge • Newton, NJ
Questions? Have a story of your own to share? Contact the author here.