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On May 24, 1942, only one day after a devastating flood that swept over Wayne County killing at least 24, reporter Hartley J. Sanford published his eyewitness account of the flood in Honesdale, his hometown, describing a 15-foot wall of water that “thundered down on the residential district near the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Dyberry rivers early yesterday after a 12-hour cloudburst, and struck the business district almost as hard.”
Not only the Main Street bridge (shown) but every bridge in town was washed away, and the town was effectively cut in two. From 800 to 900 homes were damaged, some totally destroyed; 12 of 15 houses on Delaware Street washed away. Several factories doing wartime work for the government were severely damaged or destroyed. Debris was piled three feet deep in the streets, and the Red Cross set up food canteens; drinking water was brought from farmers’ wells and boiled.
Despite the destruction, Sanford wrote proudly, “The people of Honesdale met the test calmly and resolutely.”
From the collection of the Wayne County Historical Society, 810 Main St., Honesdale, PA. The museum and research library are open Friday and Saturday, 10 a. m. to 4 p. m.