Norwich, CT Earthen Dam Breaks, Mar 1963
CONNECTICUT DAM BREAKS, FEAR SIX DEAD.
Norwich, Conn. (UPI) -- Torrents of waters from a small lake burst through an earthfilled dam Wednesday night and flooded about four square miles of the city.
Authorities said today at least six persons were killed and six injured, while hundreds of others fled their homes.
Rescue workers searched for more possible victims of the disaster.
BENJAMIN DUBICKI was standing across the street from the 75-year-old Stanton Turner twine mill when one of its wings collapsed. Some of the victims were inside.
"All at once the building just sort of fell," he said. "Lights went out and that was it."
"The building made a lot of noise. I guess it drowned out the screams. I knew the women were in the doorway. It was open and they were calling for help."
One of the dead women was identified as MRS. ANNA BARRET.
The waters of two-acre Spalding Pond, swollen by heavy rains and melting snow, broke through the Mohegan Park dam at about 10 p.m. EST. Police said cracks had been reported in it Wednesday afternoon.
From the park, which is situated on high ground in the north-west part of the city, the waters surged down streets and sidewalks, spinning cars around and splashing into hundreds of homes and business establishments.
Widespread power failures plunged the stricken area into darkness. State Troopers rushed to the scene with emergency lighting equipment and stood guard at stores to prevent looting.
Damage was estimated at many millions of dollars, and the greatest since a hurricane hit Norwich in 1938.
The frigid floodwaters, which stood 12 feet deep at some points during the night, touched off several boiler and furnace explosions.
A wall of the three-story brick mill collapsed following a boiler explosion. Three of the injured and one of those believed missing also were at the mill.
Another boiler explosion at the J. B. Martin Co., another mill, started a fire that raged out of control for hours.
For hours it was feared that a second dam, on the Shetucket River in the Occum section of Norwich, might break under the pressure of high water and ice floes. Flood gates were frozen and could not be opened to relieve the pressure, but police today said the threat had passed.
Four hours after the park dam split, city police Capt. James C. Casey said, "the water is receding nicely. But there's a lot of ice, rocks and debris. It's going to be some time before they clean it up." Much of the water spilled into the Thames River.
Included in the debris were several metal septic tanks which the waters deposited in the downtown district. Dr. Lewis Sears, Norwich health officer, said the tanks posed the threat of disease and declared the area in a "state of emergency."
Police Chief Clarence D. Simpson said no one would be allowed in the area until all the streets had been washed down with chlorine and clean water.
Daily Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1963-03-07