Bradford, Pennsylvania Flood
Bradford Cleans Up After Disastrous Flood
Housewives and merchants in Bradford yesterday
and last night wielded shovels, brooms and hoses
as they bent to the job of cleaning the mess of
debris, silt and filth left on the wake of
Monday night’s spectacular flood.
Million Dollar Damage Here
Estimates of the damage in Bradford rose to more
than one million dollars yesterday after the
waters had receded and the city surveyed the
muck and silt that has settled in the first
floors of homes, stores, hotels, theaters,
restaurants and industrial plants.
“Closed” signs hung at the entrances of the
stores in Main, Mechanic, East and West
Washington Sts., while employees shoveled and
scraped the filth from the floors. For the most
part, merchants escaped heavy losses of stock,
having moved it to higher shelves at the first
indication of danger.
Gaping holes were left in Mechanic, Boylston,
East and West Washington Sts., by the waters
that heaved sidewalks and ate into foundations
Many Heating Units Wrecked
A steady throb of motors beat through the day
and night as pumps lifted water from basements
revealing sorely wrecked heating units.
From the porches and clothes lines of
residential districts hung mud-caked rugs and
articles of clothing while curbs were hidden
beneath piles of debris moved from the stricken
Last night no water remained in city streets,
but a thick coating of mud covered the
Firemen Pump Out Cellars
Firemen last night were still at work pumping
out cellars and basements. They had been on duty
since Monday, had worked through the night and
yesterday without sleep.
Some of their reports show the tremendous
quantity of water trapped as the flood-waters
receded. St. Benard School basement held seven
feet of water; The Emery, more than 5 feet; The
IOOF Building, 6 feet; Option House, 5 feet, St.
Benard Rectory, 8feet.
In the midst of their activity, firemen
responded to two alarms in the early morning
hours. At 2:15 a.m., grease from a frier in the
Mayflower Restaurant filled the building with
smoke. No service was required there nor at a
second alarm received 10 minutes later from the
Barbour St. Bridge Heaved
The north side of Barbour St. bridge was heaved
by the force of water beneath it. City employees
attempting to tow a 50-barrel oil tank lodged
against the bridge at the height of the flood
almost lost their truck when the weight of the
tank started to pull the truck into the creek.
Yesterday patrons of The Emery and white collar
workers of the Hooker-Fulton building offices
had to hike to the upper floors when elevators
were forced out of operation by flood damages.
Floors in many business establishments and homes
were badly warped by the flood waters.
Hanley Co. Loses Records
The Bradford Theater yesterday still resembled
an indoor swimming pool as pumps labored to
remove the water. It is estimated by Manager
Hayes Gabarino that hundreds of seats must be
replaced at a cost of $25 apiece.
Hanley Brick Co. suffered the loss of records
dating back to 1931 when the basement was
Lawrence G. Dana, Director of the Bradford
office of the State Department of Public
Assistance in West Washington St., yesterday
announced that his offices would reopen this
The Bradford Era, Bradford, PA 29 May 1946
Highlights Of Bradford Flood Scene
Bradfordians trapped in Main St. Monday night by
the swirling torrent grinned broadly as they
noticed the Grand Theater’s billing, “Cornered.”
But they found no music in the second of the
double bill, “Riverboat Rhythm.”
The usually timid Tuna Creek has turned into a
flood monster time and again in Bradford’s
history, but Monday night the old stream
surpassed all previous performances as it staged
probably the wildest time of its life.
Bradfordians who have been close to the
challenge of the Tuna for more than 50 years
were of the opinion this one topped anything
that has gone before.
As in all Bradford floors, the low spots on
Barbour, Amm, Forman and Kennedy were among the
first to be hit. Once the Tuna had cleared the
banks it turned Barbour, East Washington,
Boylston and other streets into racing streams.
Not a life was lost, but many persons had narrow
escapes. An unidentified man was swept off his
feet in East Washington St., during the flood’s
height and managed to save his own life by
grabbing a parking meter. He clung to this until
help arrived. Orrie Clevland went down in Main
St., and was dragged out of the muddy waters
gasping for breath.
Ralph’s Shoe Store was one of the lucky places
that escaped on Main St. Not a drop of water
entered the store. Almost directly across the
street Nichols Brothers Clothing Store had eight
inches of water covering the floor.
When W. E. LaBrack came here in January to take
over management of the Holley Hotel, he had no
idea he would be giving a diving exhibition in
the lobby. Water was 32 inches deep in the lobby
when LaBrack, standing on top of the cigar
counter, lost his balance. He started to fall
and actually did a head-first dive. “Never
touched bottom, either,” remarked LaBrack.
Fellow merchants on Mechanic St. yesterday felt
that J. H. Bickert of the Bickert-Leonard Drug
Store is a champion flood fighter. Despite the
fact that the store took the full force of the
water as it rushed down Barbour St., only a mere
trickle entered the front door. Mr. Bickert took
a look up Barbour St., at 5:30 Monday afternoon
and went to work at once preparing for the
The Davis Bakery, which adjoins the drug store,
also was well prepared and Fred Johnson, owner,
stated he did not lose any baking material.
However, a thousand or more paper bags and boxes
which he received only recently and had stored
in a garage back of the bakery were completely
ruined. “The thing is you can’t replace them,”
Yeoman service was rendered during the height of
the flood by the following who donated and
manned trucks: Layton Van Dyke, Pete Perine,
Daniel Stidd, Ernest Pessia, Pete DePalma and
Jim Maduri. Frank Dehm brought a boat down from
Browntown and with Frank Kersteter helped
evacuate the stranded. Bob Pringle has a boat in
service and Bill Sisley also was at the scene
St. Bernard’s School did not open yesterday
morning and no date for the resumption of
classes has been set. Announcement regarding the
return to school will be made at the Thursday
Louis Blumenfeld, one of the city’s few cigar
makers, was practically out of business
yesterday. His plant is located on West
Washington St., where damage was high. Most of
his tobacco stock is a loss and valuable cigar
molds are water soaked beyond reclaim. “I was
flooded out at Farmers Valley in 1942,” remarked
Blumenfeld, “and now it happens again.”
The Tuna took a lot of short cuts Monday night.
It raced down Barbour Street, zoomed through the
Smith Brothers Alley and broke through the back
door of a billiard room on Pine St. The water
carried away half of the front end of the store
in its mad dash for newfound freedom.
Guests of the Holley Hotel were treated to
food and drink by the management and started a
couple of tables of bridge when they finally
were marooned on the higher floors. Telephone
service in the hotel went out at 8 p.m. Boiler
rooms and cellar were filled to capacity this
morning. The management could not estimate the
damage, but it will run into the thousands.
Community Baseball Park, home of the PONY League
Wings, escaped damage. Water was up 18 inches in
right field and touched one of the concession
stands, but was dryer yesterday than it has been
John Kramer, one of the city’s oldest barbers,
was marooned in his shop on Mechanic St.,
throughout the entire flood. By the time the
water was a foot deep in the store he figured he
would stick out.
The Bradford Era, Bradford, PA 29 May 1946
Dawn. Thanks, Dawn!
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