August 19th will be the 58th anniversary of the devastating Flood of 1955. It was one of the worst floods in Connecticut’s history. Two back-to-back hurricanes saturated the land and several river valleys in the state, causing severe flooding. The hardest hit areas in Bristol were the West End, Rockwell Park and Forestville. Almost 90 people died across the state during the flooding and property damage across the state was estimated at more than $200 million, in 1955 figures. The floods prompted changes in safety measures, river monitoring and zoning laws.
Police forces, volunteer firefighters, Connecticut National Guard members, the Coast Guard and average citizens worked together to rescue people from their homes and other buildings where they became stranded. At 1 a.m. August 19, as the water began rising over the banks of several rivers, Gov. Abraham Ribicoff mobilized the National Guard. More than 25 helicopters—from the U.S. Navy and local companies like Sikorsky—were used to rescue hundreds of people from rooftops and tree branches where they clung to life.
The floods prompted the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build $70 million worth of dams and flood walls along several Connecticut Rivers. In 1960, they built the Thomaston Dam. In 1965, the Northfield Brook Dam, and in 1969, the Colebrook Dam.
Here are some never before seen images courtesy of Ron Tessman.