Looking Back on Flooding History

SIMPSON, Pa. -- Record rain and flooding this past month will likely be something most in this area will not soon forget. It makes some think about what we can learn from this to make improvements for the future.

"I remembered having these newspapers. I haven't read them in a while, but I remember there was a huge flood back in 1955, and I thought before the papers crumble away to nothing, because newspaper doesn't last, I thought well let me send them on to people who might appreciate them. Since they were August of 1955, and we're in August with all this rain. It just seemed pertinent," John Revak said.

Revak is a northeastern Pennsylvania historian from Simpson. Last week, he sent the WNEP Weather Department newspapers from the week of August 18, 1955. Topping the headlines: fatal flooding from Hurricane Diane.

"We learn from history. We see what happened, and we need to take what we learned and say how do we prevent this from happening," Revak said.

According to National Weather Service records, Hurricane Diane caused the most destructive flooding eastern Pennsylvania had ever seen and killed more than 40 people in eastern Pennsylvania.

"So in 1955, you had such a large loss of life because we don't have the resources and the plans we have in place now for dealing with flood waters," Revak explained.

There are countless stories on the pages inside the newspapers. One was about a Hawley man who drowned while trying to take pictures of the devastation. Revak says he sent us the newspapers to show the importance of what we can learn from the past.

"We've made improvements. The flood prevention that has been done in our area," he said.

During our visit, Revak also showed us photos from a cyclone ripping through Wilkes-Barre in 1890, photos he brought out just two months ago, after an EF-2 tornado hit that same part of Luzerne County more than 100 years later.