Williamsport residents tell of flood.
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Interview conducted at Homewood, Williamsport, March 11, 2011. Interviewer - John Frye. Interviewees - Sue Hoch, Robert May, Jack Myers, Charles South, and Maurice Snyder.
John: We want to talk to you about the 36 flood …
Jack: I am Jack Meyers. I am 87 now, 13 when flood came to Williamsport
Sue: My name is Sue Bowers Hoch, I was born and raised in Williamsport. I was a Bowers and I was only 5 years old at the time of the flood, and I’m 80 now.
John A Williamsport Bowers
Charlie: I’m Charles South, 92 years old
Bob: I’m Bob May, 80 years old. Never lived in Williamsport – they wouldn’t allow me.
Charlie: Don’t you believe it. He’s a good friend.
John: - And the character here?
Jack: – Mr Williamsport
Maurice: I’m Maurice Snyder, I’m 97 years old, 22 years old when the flood was here. Saw quite a few things.
John: If we have a flood we have to have a reason. Let’s start out right there. I am assuming prior to the flood there e had a snowy winter. Was there snow on the ground here at Williamsport or did that run off come from the mountains?
Jack: As I recall we had a snowy winter but there was snow in the mountains But I think most of it came from the Cumberland area mountains where there was much more snow. That’s what I heard. I was 13, Then we had some rain too.
John: Yes, you had a lot of rain. Does anyone remember if was there snow on the ground here at Williamsport at that time of the flood? None of the pictures showed snow.
Maurice: There was snow in the mountains. I forget how many inches was up there. Cold and freezing up to that time. Couple of days prior to that a warm spell came in, some rain and it began to melt and the harder it started to melt up in Cumberland it started coming down the river and calls went out for low lands to get ready to move out.
And my recollection was that the river was rising up a foot an hour, a little over a foot per hour. I was at the Tannery at that time, working, there was three of us. But here was a family by the name of Turner, lived in the bottom part of Fenton avenue before you got to the canal. And the house in there, we got a call about 7’o clock in the evening that anyone living near the canal had better move out, and they came and they asked us at the tannery, we were working on payroll, if they could borrow the company truck to move out. By the time they got calls out of Cumberland that the water was coming up fast they got the last piece of furniture out and the water was coming into their house there and starting up Fenton Avenue. At that time all those ponds were in existence down there in the canal and the overflow was starting to come up and as it was it continued coming up everyone of Fenton Avenue was thinking of moving out. It just became water, water, water, and that’s what we saw for the next few days.
My recollection of it was the start of its was the night of the 17th the water started rising and it kept coming up
John: When you are saying Fenton Avenue you are saying the end towards the river?
Maurice: Fenton Avenue comes from 68 clear down to the canal.
That house was at the foot of the hill almost at the Canal. Bodie Turner’s. I think there was a canal boat set between the house and the canal
John: The high water peaked on the 18th but as most of you know it was called the St Patrick’s day flood because that’s when it flooded Cumberland so badly.
John to Sue: You were so young, do you remember it?
Sue: I was born and raised in Williamsport and the homeplace was 119 West Potomac which up the street from the Miller lumber company on the other side and my Dad had boats, he built scows, down there, and he had a boat that was tied up at Cushwa basin above Cushwa’s Basin at the end of the end of Potomac Street, across from Miller’s Lumber. . .
John: Did the boat stay tied up? Did he lose the boat?
Sue: No he didn’t. And also at the back of our house we had the Conococheague creek running at the back of the house, and that came half way up the hill where our house was. I don’t remember, this is what I have been told.
Maurice: About Sue, Sue’s father, I guess he made more flat-bottom, we called skiff boats, than any one man in Williamsport.
Sue: He was busy all summer.
Maurice: He always liked to make them out of redwood boards, because red wood boards absorbed the water.
Sue: They swelled up
Maurice: He didn’t want to make them out of plywood or anything. He said, you get me the redwood, I’ll build you a boat.
Charlie: That must have been a big skiff to bring that piano out from Harv Brant’s house down there. It must have been a big skiff to hold the piano. They say it was just about to tip into the water...
WCFL and WMRL
The participants in the discussion were Sue Hoch, Robert May, Jack Myers, Charles South, and Maurice Snyder. John Frye was the interviewer. Also present were Joan and Gerry Knode of the Williamsport Town Museum, who coordinated up the interview session, and Marie and Kevin Gilbert of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
Homewood Retirement Center, Williamsport.
Floods, Maryland, Cumberland, History; Cumberland (Md.),History.
Western Maryland, 1936