Hurricane Agnes and the Making of the Chesapeake

Hurricane_AgnesBy Pierre cb (NOAA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hurricane Agnes (also referred to as Tropical Storm Agnes) was one of the most intense and destructive events in American history, and particularly in the memory of Pennsylvanians.  The storm dumped 19 inches of rain from Florida to New York between June 19th and June 24th, 1972. In central Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River crested at 32.57 feet – nearly 15 feet above flood stage. Agnes took the lives of 40 people in Pennsylvania (and 122 total) and resulted in $2bil in damages ($12.5bil total). This research will draw from archival research, oral history interviews, and public scholarship to interrogate how, in the wake of Agnes, new regional identities were formed. Not only did residents in the small towns dotting the shorelines of the Susquehanna recognize their connected, but different experiences with flooding, but residents to the south began to rethink the relationship between the River with the large body of water receiving the river’s flow–the Chesapeake Bay. I hope this research informs public understanding of the consequences and possibilities of extreme weather events, especially for a future in which these may become more regular occurrences.

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