Hurricane Earl

Hurricane Earl threatens the East Coast on Labor Day weekend

My first hurricane was certainly a memorable one

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The first major league baseball game I ever saw in person was a no-hitter.

My Dad, Daniel Cummings, took my sister Linda and me to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn in September 1956 to see his beloved Philadelphia Phillies no-hit by Sal “The Barber” Maglie in a 5-0 Dodger triumph.

My first hurricane was no less memorable, and it certainly was no less impressive.

Hurricane Diane, after leaving devastation in its wake all along the East Coast, battered Connecticut on Aug. 11 and 12, 1955.

I was just 8 years old, but I can still remember the sheets of rain flying sideways, a sight I have rarely seen since (other than a few times on seaside golf courses in Ireland).

I can still picture the wind whipping the trees and my looking out the window and watching limbs and even whole trees come crashing down in our yard.

And that was just the beginning of the carnage that would be brought on by Hurricane Diane.

The torrential rains from Diane swelled brooks, streams and rivers and played a major role in the Flood of ’55 that hit the state with a vengeance in the coming days.

The flood hit several area towns hard, including New Milford, where I lived, and neighboring Washington, which lost two of its citizens when the meandering Shepaug River turned into a raging monster.

I remember going down to Bridge Street in New Milford and witnessing the biggest flood that flood-prone town had ever seen. There was water everywhere — Young’s Field was a lake, the west side of the Housatonic River was like a sea of water, and the river had widened so much it came well up Bridge Street.

My mother and father drove our family around the state in the days after the flood subsided, and I still have indelible memories of the devastation.

Washington Depot had been under water, houses had been swept away, and the bridge over the Shepaug River out on Beebrook Road was wrecked and had to be replaced.

We also went up to Winsted, which was about as hard hit as any town in Connecticut and saw the results that an angry Mad River had caused.

As an 8-year-old, I thought hurricanes and floods were just par for the course, and that they happened every summer. I soon found out that — fortunately —such was not the case.

In fact, as Mother Nature and history have transpired over the past 55 years, it turns out that Hurricane Diane was the most destructive of any hurricane in my lifetime, and the Flood of ’55 was the biggest flood to hit Connecticut in the 20th century.

I’m disappointed I have never seen another no-hitter, but I have no regrets at all that I have not witnessed another hurricane or flood like I did in the summer of ’55.

Categories: General
Art Cummings