Old News: The '72 Flood
Hurricane Agnes drenches the region
PORTVILLE, NY -- The flood of June 1972 was the biggest news of the past fifty years
in this small town. The after-effects of Hurricane Agnes brought days-on-end of drizzling rain, devastating residents
and businesses of the Portville lowlands and ruining many homes along the Allegheny River.
Unlike the flash flood of 1942, the 70's disaster built up over time and had to
challenge a federal dike system, which had been constructed during the 1950s. But the result was the same and the impact
lasted for years.
Old-timers may remember the controversial decision to erect a sandbag
barrier on Main Street's Dodge Creek bridge - a move that saved the downtown buildings at the expense of the South Main dwellings.
Ironically, flooding of the village was an annual spring-time occurrence for the
first 150 years of Portville's existence. Folks were used to the natural event, and in the pioneering days, the waters
were welcomed. Being a lumber center, the swelled creeks and crested Allegheny made business alot easier.
But that blessing did not bode well for the modern Portvillians of 1972.
The town went into emergency mode, as the school and higher dwellings became shelters for hundreds of refugees.
The Flood of '72 will be remembered for decades to come.