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Residential damage, Aug. 19, 1955, flood A breakdown of the areas in which the most homes were destroyed and suffered major damage indicated the following areas:
The following towns have requested prefabricated homes :
20 20 25 20
APPENDIX C Assessors' report of grand list and tax losses in the most severely damaged
municipalities, flood of Aug. 19, 1955
Borough Thomaston. Thompson Torrington Washington Waterbury Winsted.
1, 950.00 2, 767.98 16. 903 74 16,861.88 16,818. 90 3, 298, 28 6. 400.00 61, 109. 43
1, 239.86 83, 192 76 4, 455, 56 2, enf. 57 4, 478. 64 3, 472.07 18, 692 23 27, 199. 59
5,800.00 19, 507.87
2, 505. 22 29, 870. 51 23, 342. 25 89, 250, 11
5. 369. 91 857, 304.00 102, 070.01
APPENDIX D Estimated annual tax collections of the State of Connecticut, exclusive of Fed
eral grants, licenses, fees, and other miscellaneous revenues accruing to the general and high way funds during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1956
12,350 10,012, 350
25,000,000 3, 150,000
50,000 22.000 315.000 1, 330,000
170,000 1, 300,000 3, 045, 000
56 000 9,950), 000 125, 600
$182, 125 $1, 116, 249 $1, 298, 374
480, 540 30, 125 75, 420 105, 545 200,000
200,000 1, 579, 090 301, 200 1.880, 290
3, 620 22, 760 26, 380 1, 476,760 1, 989, 605 3, 466, 365 131, 046
131,046 132, 139 12, 000 144, 139 38, 375 114, 741 153, 116 28, 595
100,000 128, 595
319, 950 466, 845 1, 249, 577 1, 539, 489 2, 789, 066 173, 780
81, 930 255, 710 8, 450,000 15, 364, 000 23,814, 000 1, 614,051 1, 432, 815 3.046, 866
18, 173, 390 25,083, 630 43, 257, 021
2 to 12 percent.
Gasoline and fuel..
334 percent net income.
45, 213, 350
6 cents per gallon.
117, 000 000
1 One-sixth of cigarette tax receipts ($1,440,000) are diverted to the soldiers, sailors, and marines" fund, tbe balance of $7,200,000 being available for general fund use.
On August 19, 11 feet of water flowed through this Farrel-Birmingham plant
in Ansonia, Conn.
(By Dero A. Saunders)
of United States history. In a normal August the Naugatuck River of west-central Connecticut is a placid stream, so shallow in places that a boy can wade across it without fear of a scolding at home. But in the uncommon August of 1955, when Hurricane Diane suddenly strewed floods from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts, the Naugatuck became the most destructive torrent in New England's history. The towns and industries tight packed along its banks were buried several feet deep in mud, silt, and wreckage, and one of New England's key industrial concentrations was temporarily paralyzed.
How could Naugatuck Valley industry have sustained such frightful damage, and from so insignificant a stream? Can a recurrence of the catastrophe be prevented—or at least insured against ? Such questions were of interest not only to New England businessmen. For there is hardly any United States industry that does not sell to or buy from the firms clustered along the Naugatuck. And much of United States industry lives alongside gentle streams that in recent weeks have been looked upon with new respect.
The tiny Naugatuck Valley (it is less than 50 airline miles along) contains over 250 factories employing a total of 80,000 workers. It is the most important nonferrous-metalworking center in the United States. Nearly 10 percent of the Nation's brass and bronze, and a large portion of its copper, zinc, and aluminum, are fashioned in the Naugatuck Valley into sheet, strip, rod, wire, and tube. These primary forms then feed the electrical, electronic, and metalworking plants that long ago replaced textile mills as New England's main industrial props. Supporting the brass and copper mills are the Naugatuck Valley's machinery firms, which also supply the heaviest of heavy machinery to the steel, paper, rubber, mining, sugar, and other industries.
The valley is also a great clockmaking center (one of its towns bears the name of clockmaker Seth Thomas), and the largest United States producer of sneakers, arctics, galoshes, boots, and other rubber footwear. And since the rubber industry is increasingly a chemical industry, the valley has developed a chemical complex producing rubber chemicals as well as synthetic rubber itself.
The Naugatuck Valley's old plants, sprouting occasional additions like fresh twigs on old trunks, hug the edge of the Naugatuck River as though their lives depended upon it. Once they did. For waterpower, together with copper from nearby mines, and skilled labor smuggled out of England (sometimes hidden in wine casks), created the valley's first industries. The copper and brass mills long ago outgrew the river's waterpower, but by that time they were too firmly rooted to transplant, too rich in plant and machinery in place. And above all the Naugatuck Valley had grown rich in skilled labor that crowded the towns from Shelton and Derby north through Ansonia, Seymour, Naugatuck, Waterbury, Thomaston, and Torrington to Winsted. (Winsted is part of the valley complex even though it lies just to the north in the Farmington River's watershed.)
Once the original mills were built, additions were simply butted onto the old buildings along the riverbank, long after the once-essential water wheels were mossy with disuse. The New Haven Railroad's branch line up the valley followed the course of the river like a snake track, bridging it 10 times within 46 railroad miles. So even the newer mills crowded toward the water, making full use of the archaic common-law principle that extends private-property rights to the "thread of the stream," i. e., to its very center. Plants were built not only next to, but out into, the river: in fact, the main Waterbury plant of Kennecott's Chase Brass & Copper subsidiary was built by diverting the river into a new channel and building on the old stream bed.
INDUSTRIAL FLASH FLOOD
These man-made encroachments, by contorting the river into circuitous and unnatural channels, served to increase the valley's natural tendency toward flooding. As a glance at the map on the opposite page will show, the Naugatuck River's watershed is unusually narrow, averaging no more than 8 miles wide; but within that slender span the hills on either side frequently rise 300 feet, and in places more than 500 feet above the river. Thus it is not surprising that the valley has experienced several fairly serious floods in the last 20 years one in 1936 from a combination of rain and melting snow, another from the hurricane of September 1938, and a third from a sudden downpour on New Year's Eve of 1948-49. Each of these caused some property damage, flooding a few low-lying factories to a depth of 2 or 3 feet. On August 18 and 19, 1953, however, the area was hit by the greatest cloudburst in its history.
The rain fell under the most unfavorable circumstances. Hurricane Connie had, during the preceding weekend, soaked the ground thoroughly with a 9-inch downpour. A lesser rain on Wednesday, August 17, helped maintain the saturation. Then, about dawn on Thursday, it began to rain again, as the sodden remains of Hurricane Diane moved into the area.
The rain gage at the city of Hartford's great Barkhamsted water reservoir (in the Farmington Valley just northeast of the Naugatuck) recorded some 3 inches by noon Thursday, after which the rain slacked off a bit. Then, beginning about 8 p. m., nearly 7 inches came pelting down within 6 hours (the previous record in the area was about 6 inches for a full 24-hour period). By midafternoon on Friday an additional 6 inches had fallen, for a 2-day total of nearly 16 inches of rain. The saturated earth could absorb none of it, and these enormous volumes of water rushed down the steep hillsides into the Naugatuck and its tributaries.
On the river gage above Thomaston, two-thirds of the way up the river, the Naugatuck showed a fairly rapid rise Thursday morning, and then receded slightly. But about 10 o'clock Thursday night, some 2 hours after the heavy rains had resumed, the river began an incredible surge, rising as much as 442 feet per hour. By 3 a. m. Friday it broke its old 12-foot record and reached 1442 feet. At 4:15, with the recorder reading 17 feet, the float jammed against the top of its shelf ; but the river continued rising to an early-morning peak of 24 feet—12 feet above the previous high. The peak rate of flow at a point above Thomaston was estimated at 35,000 cubic feet per second, against a previous record of 10,200. Downriver, near the town of Naugatuck, the former peak flow of 28,500 cubic feet was multiplied nearly fivefold, to an estimated 140,000 feet. Moreover, these vastly greater volumes of water flowed faster than ever before, probably reaching a speed of 15 miles an hour.
OLD MILLSTREAM Some of the flood's industrial impact was indirect, via its impact on the communities—bridges destroyed, high-tension wires down, and sewers, gas lines, and water mains broken. The flood that devastated the Naugatuck Valley last August was a byproduct of Hurricane Diane, which approached New England from the southwest and then (as shown on the small map at left) skirted the coast on its way out to sea. The rainfall lines on the Naugatuck Valley map (right) show that the heaviest rainfall was not near the storm's center, but along its northern edges where the moisture-laden air met cooler air masses coming down from the north. The result was an east-west "rainfall trough” that unloosed a cloudburst and flood of epic proportions.
Other rivers besides the Naugatuck swept over their banks-notably the Delaware River, where the loss of life was heaviest, and the Quinebaug River of eastern Connecticut, one of whose devastated factories in the little town of Putnam is pictured in the portfolio beginning overleaf. But none of the other torrents matched the Naugatuck for extreme height of flood crests (see river charts below, keyed against points on map). And none produced an industrial casualty list like the one to the right of the Naugatuck Valley map.