Riveting account of the historic flood of August 1955.
Dec 2, 2008
Whenever I read a book about a natural disaster I cannot help but wonder how I might react in such a situation. As the new day dawned on August 18,1955 folks in the Delaware Valley had absolutely no reason to believe that this day would be substantially different from any other. And yet, an unlikely series of weather events would unfold over the next 72 hours that would severely test the mettle of just about everyone in the region. In "Devastation On The Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955" author Mary Shafer chronicles the heartbreaking events of those three days in August 1955. More than one hundred people would lose their lives. Some of the victims would not be found until months or even years later. And those who were lucky enough to survive would quickly discover that for them life would never be the same.
It is hard to conceive of the utter devastion that took place. Many residents lost just about everything they owned. Houses were literally torn off their foundations and ripped to shreds and two ton automobiles were tossed about like childrens toys. In many of these communities the raging waters damaged or destroyed most of the infrastructure. All along the Delaware the bridges that were vital links in the lives of so many people were laid waste and many would never be rebuilt. All over the Delaware Valley mom and pop businesses would be wiped out forever. Scores of people would find themselves unemployed in the immediate aftermath as the water inundated manufacturing plants, retail stores and tourist attractions. Mary Schafer does an outstanding job of conveying the full scope of the problems and emotions these people were forced to deal with during those tumultuous days. " Devastation on the Delaware" also chronicles how government officials, private businesses and so many ordinary people managed to rise to the occasion and assist with the recovery effort. Interspersed throughout the book are dozens of gut wrenching black and white photographs that really help to illustrate the story that Mary Shafer is attempting to tell. Many of these photos are from the private collections of those who lived through the tragedy but somehow had the presence of mind to record these events on film for posterity.
Even though I am not from the immediate area I must say that I found "Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955" to be quite compelling reading. It compares quite favorably to other outstanding books I have read on the subject of hurricanes such as "Sudden Sea", "Black Cloud" and "The Great Hurricane:1938". And for those who hail from the Delaware Valley this book will serve future generations as an important piece of regional history that will be a fixture in local libraries for decades to come. A wonderful book by a very gifted writer. Highly recommended!!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Synopsis: The only comprehensive documentary treatment of this record-breaking weather disaster.
About the Author
Mary Shafer makes her living as a full-time freelance writer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Mary writes fiction and non-fiction books when she's not writing marketing copy and articles for trade and consumer magazines through her freelance business, The Word Forge.
She is a certified storm spotter in the National Weather Service SkyWarn program; volunteer weather coordinator of her township's Emergency Management Agency; and founder of the Amateur Weather Enthusiasts of America (AWE-USA).
August 18-20, 1955: Three terrifying days and nights still remembered with awe in the Delaware River Valley. Record-breaking rainfall—almost two feet in some places—from twin hurricanes abruptly ended a withering drought, but the relief was short-lived. It was overshadowed by terror and destruction that tore away bridges and snatched people, still sleeping, from their beds in the middle of the night. The only book devoted solely to this record-setting flood on the Delaware River and many of its tributaries, this comprehensive documentary covers the most heavily affected areas on both sides of the river between Port Jervis, New York and Trenton, New Jersey. Author Mary A. Shafer interviewed more than a hundred survivors and eyewitnesses to bring the events to chilling life in this definitive account of a tragic weather disaster ...