August 15- December 31, 1955

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August 15, 1955

  • As of this time, 6.91″ of rain has fallen over area since August 12.

August 16

  • DERBY – Local landmark Roseland Pizza remodeled. Will now serve spaghetti dinners and subs along with pizza.

August 17

  • 1.65″ of rain has falls in a 24 hour period.
  • SHELTON – Local man shot and killed on Route 8 (today’s Bridgeport Avenue) near Trumbull line. Sparks massive dragnet in Huntington that lasts for days.

August 18

  • ANSONIA – John Brady of West Side Market announces he will close his store’s doors for good on September 3, to join with his son’s grocery on Woodbridge Avenue. Was formerly on Maple and High Street until a fire in the 1920s caused them to move near the Maple Street Bridge. (Note – the West Side Market was destroyed in the Flood the following day).

August 19

  • Black Friday. Flood of 1955 devastates area.

August 20

  • Marital law is declared in sections of Derby, Ansonia, and Seymour. The Connecticut National Guard is deployed to patrol the flood stricken areas.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Sheasby returns to the city. He was in New Jersey with his Reserve Unit during the Flood. The military granted him special leave to help Ansonia during the emergency.

Sunday, August 21, 1955

  • News is scarce today, because the offices of the Evening Sentinel were flooded and the paper does not publish on Sunday, anyway. Other newspapers are having difficulty reaching the flood zone due to the damage and the area being quarantined by the National Guard. Needless to say, the long recovery from the flood of two days before is just beginning.

August 22

  • Governor Ribicoff visits the area to view flood damage. Over one hundred people have lost their homes to the flood and are in local shelters. Griffin Hospital is administering thousands of typhus shots to those exposed to floodwaters.

August 23

  • President Eisenhower flies over the flood-stricken Valley and surveys the damage.
  • SEYMOUR – There are still four evacuation centers in operation. Water service is nearly restored, though all water must be boiled before use.
  • ANSONIA – 2 arrested in riff with the National Guard. A convoy of 100 vehicles from New Haven arrives to help with the cleanup. Another smaller convoy arrives from Stamford. Power mostly restored. Evacuees are now consolidated in a single center at the Ansonia High School. Local politicians ask the Federal Government to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to erect a temporary Bailey Bridge, due to the destruction of 3 Ansonia bridges and serious damage to the fourth. Downtown is still closed. Police Department working 24-hour shifts. Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic War Veterans are distributing food and clothing on Clifton Avenue. 80 tons of ice arrives – will be shared with Derby and Seymour. 
  • DERBY – 25 are homeless. The pump on the Green is one of the only sources of fresh water.

August 24

  • ANSONIA – An assistant Fire Chief is arrested trying to cross Bridge Street Bridge to answer an alarm by National Guardsmen after curfew. The incident is smoothed over, the guardsmen stating they did not realize Ansonia had a volunteer fire department. In another incident the National Guard fires warning shots at a car at East Main and Tremont Streets after curfew – the car turns around. Assumption Church offers its chapel to Holy Rosary Church, which is in the flood area. 1000 tons of donated food arrive from Branford. 
  • SEYMOUR – Repair work being done on the railroad trestle. Temporary repairs being made to the flood-damaged Seymour High School.
  • DERBY – Some stores are reopening. 500 are allowed to return to the lower Caroline Street and Main Street areas for the first time since the flood.
  • OXFORD – The American Legion is operating an evacuation center in town, mostly for Seymour residents. Edmunds Road and Cemetery Roads are closed due to flood damage.
  • SHELTON – The New Haven Railroad is working around the clock to repair the flood-damaged trestle between Derby and Shelton. The Sutter Post American Legion opens a flood relief station for donations.
  • SHELTON – C. Harold Lewis, Shelton native, dies at his Hollywood home. Was a musician and composer for the movie industry.

August 25

  • ANSONIA – The Army Corps of Engineers removes the wrecked American Brass Company Bridge from where it was swept downstream along Farrel-Birmingham’s river wall. The Derby Police Department and Catholic War Veterans are giving the Ansonia Police Department a well-deserved break. The banks are reopening. The Mayor wants a full-scale public housing program. Residents are warned there may be industrial chemicals in silt washed ashore from the flood. 
  • DERBY – Railroad trestle over Naugatuck River back in operation. A huge crane was placed on top of it to help lift the massive amount of debris which accumulated along it from the flood. Fire hoses are being used to wash out Main Street stores.
  • SEYMOUR – Local merchants must destroy their own wrecked merchandise. Shoring is being installed at Seymour High School. The Bank Street Bridge will soon reopen.
  • SHELTON – Highland Golf Course is being used as a helicopter landing site for flood inspection tours.

August 26

  • DERBY – A derailment at Turkey Brook blocks the railroad tracks. Fortunately the tracks next to the wreck are not blocked and flood relief supplies continue to flow into the Valley. 

August 27

  • ANSONIA – Residents with permits may now visit their homes in flood stricken areas and remove 5-8 uncontaminated items. Farrel-Birmingham gives $50,000 to local flood relief, while American Brass Company gives $25,000 to the Red Cross, who are feeding evacuees at Ansonia High School. Truckload of food and clothing arrives from the Annex section of New Haven. The police chief announces Bridge Street Bridge will reopen on a limited basis on Sunday for church services. The mayor urges dredging the now-silted bed of the Naugatuck River and building dikes to prevent more flooding. Ruins of Warcholick’s Hall on Broad Street, as well as tenement buildings at 158 & 166 Broad Street, burned to the ground on orders of the Mayor, by Ansonia firemen assisted by the New Haven and Georgetown fire departments – the buildings all caught fire on April 17, 1955, and were considered a health hazard.
  • SEYMOUR – The Waterman Pen Company will reopen Monday. Flood areas are now “off limits” to sightseers. Bank Street Bridge embankment getting thousands of tons of gravel to fill in the washed-out section. Local flood donations over $20,000. Town crews from Bridgeport, Shelton, Woodbridge, and Hamden are assisting in the cleanup.
  • DERBY – Police Chief says traffic “worst in memory”, and urges residents to avoid the flood zones unless they have business there. 

Sunday August 28, 1955

  • ANSONIA – A convoy of trucks arrives from Wallingford to help with the cleanup.
  • SHELTON – St. Joseph’s Church raises $2,600 in its Sunday collections for flood relief.

August 29

  • SEYMOUR – Lineman working to restore power on Pine Street electrocuted, but survives. A Kerite employee seriously burns his eyes with disinfectant spray while cleaning the flood damage there. Bus service restarts today.
  • DERBY – The east side of the 3-track Naugatuck River rail trestle is being removed due to the damage it received when flood debris piled up against this side of the bridge.
  • ANSONIA – Many Main Street stores are unable to reopen because their basements are still contaminated by silt from the flood. Red Cross trucks are distributing potatoes at Warsaw Park. A total of 289 homes are uninhabitable due to the flood, though its emphasized that some of them can be repaired. All 289 of these families are being sustained by the Red Cross. A convoy of 20 trucks arrives from Norwalk to help with the cleanup. Glazer’s Furniture receives papers from its store that were recovered when they washed ashore on a beach on Long Island.

August 30

  • Water must still be boiled. Salvaging articles from along the riverbanks is banned, due to contamination fears. Warnings that drums of cyanide that washed away from upriver industries are still unaccounted for.
  • DERBY – A US Army switcher locomotive arrives at the Derby freight yard, on loan for four months. It is to be used in heavy flood reconstruction work. Damaged power plant on Roosevelt Drive restored to full capacity. Red Cross distribution center moved to recently closed old Irving School on Fifth Street. Public gatherings banned at White Eagle Hall on Main Street until damage repaired.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia contracts with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to clear the river channel, debris from streets, rehabilitate sewer & water systems, clean public buildings, and building a Bailey Bridge over the Naugatuck River. Red Cross Disaster Relief Headquarters has been moved to the Masonic Temple on North Cliff Street. Federal Housing Authority sets up a regional office in City Hall to help refinance mortgages, and to repair or replace damaged homes. The Federal Small Business Administration also sets up a temporary regional office at City Hall. Holy Rosary Church attempting to clean up in time for Sunday Mass – it was flooded with 11’ of water and its statues are damaged beyond repair. The Capitol Theater has sustained $85,000 in damage, including the loss of all 1,019 seats, the large CinemaScope screen, and sound equipment – water reached 5’ above the stage.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour, Indiana, a town of 8,500 people, is conducting a special relief drive for Seymour, Connecticut. A number of evacuees from Bank, Second, and Third Streets may now return home. Spraying and washing down Bank and Main Streets completed.
  • OXFORD – Oxford Ambulance Association donating its old ambulance to its Explorer Post as a camp wagon and emergency vehicle.

August 31

  • ANSONIA – The temporary Bailey Bridge arrives. The Salvation Army Emergency Relief Headquarters is in Polish Falcon Hall on Central Street. Farrel-Birmingham gives $25,000 to the Red Cross to rehabilitate homes in Ansonia and Seymour in greatest need. The Fire Department burns the remains of the Vartelas Block and Shay Building (which housed West Side Market) on Maple Street. The nearby Maple Diner is demolished and pushed into the river by a bulldozer.
  • DERBY – 7 Army trucks with flood relief supplies arrive from New Jersey.

September 1955

September 1

  • Unemployment claims in the Valley are now down to 2,253. In the week after the flood it spiked to 5,426. Before the flood it was 629. Bus lines running emergency routes in Ansonia and Seymour, but are almost back to normal schedule in Derby and Shelton. The New Haven Railroad pledges to reconstruct every destroyed rail bridge between Derby and Winsted. Already work being is being done in Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, and Seymour. Restoration of destroyed tracks will follow. Total rainfall for August was 15.86”.
  • ANSONIA – Mayor Sheasby formally thanks the Connecticut National Guard for assistance after the flood. A number of Main Street businesses are finally given permission to reopen, even though traffic is still banned from Main Street.
  • DERBY – The lumber jam along the Naugatuck River rail trestle is finally broken. Local football hero Bob Skoronski elected co-captain of the Indiana University football squad.
  • SEYMOUR – Federal Public Housing Authority allocates 60 prefabricated homes for flood evacuees.

September 2

  • The Naugatuck Valley from Waterbury to Ansonia is sealed off to sightseers for the Labor Day weekend.
  • ANSONIA – Board of Aldermen vote 13-1 to give Mayor Sheasby emergency powers for one year, and to appoint a Disaster Coordinator at $5000 a year for two years. Timothy Quinn is appointed Disaster Coordinator. 46 families have now been temporarily relocated to New Haven, thanks to that City’s Housing Authority and the Red Cross. The Douglas Building, a 3-story brick structure on the corner of Broad and High Streets, will be razed due to flood damage, along with two frame dwellings just south of it. All buildings on White Place will also be razed, as will three buildings on Canal Street. Others will probably follow. The Disabled American Veterans are sponsoring a block dance at the High School, which is still sheltering evacuees.
  • OXFORD – Total flood damage in the Roosevelt Drive area is about $7,000, mostly confined to summer cottages.
  • SEYMOUR – Survey shows 64 buildings washed away or badly damaged in the flood, including 31 homes or apartment houses, and 33 businesses – some of which also contained residences. Derby Avenue is still closed. Kerite offers its land for 30 temporary homes. 25 more will go on South Main Street, and another 5 on Veteran’s of Foreign Wars’ land on Day Street.

September 3

  • By this time, all stores in Derby, Seymour, and Shelton have been permitted to reopen. A number of Ansonia stores are reopening today as well.
  • ANSONIA – The city’s 14 voting machines either need to be replaced or reconditioned. All were in City Hall basement during the flood. Two more flood damaged buildings torn down – a garage at 47 Water Street, and a storage warehouse for the Ansonia Furniture Company behind 240 Main Street.
  • DERBY – Flood damaged White Eagle Hall on lower Main Street has now been recertified for all events except dances. The US Army Corps of Engineers is removing debris under the Main Street Bridge at high tide.
  • SHELTON – BF Goodrich employees donate $13,000 to flood victims.
  • SEYMOUR – Board of Assessors report 40 homes and businesses have been completely destroyed by the flood, making 63 families homeless. Most of these are in the neighborhoods of Derby Avenue, Pine Street, Broad Street, and Third Street. Most of the buildings on Pine and Broad Streets were literally washed away.

Sunday September 5, 1955

  • ANSONIA – Holy Rosary celebrates its first mass in its Main Street church since the flood.
  • ANSONIA – Allen Goldberg, proprietor of Tasty Food Shop on 58 Bridge Street Ansonia,  dies. A Russian immigrant, he was 52.
  • DERBY – Flood damaged Division, Caroline, Water, & Factory Streets washed down and dusted with calcium chloride.

September 6

  • SEYMOUR – A temporary footbridge has been erected over the Broad Street Bridge.
  • ANSONIA – The health department declares the typhoid threat from the flood is now over.
  • SHELTON – Flood damaged Indian Well State Park is still closed.
  • DERBY – Pioneer bowling alleys on lower Main Street reopens for the first time since the flood.

September 7

  • ANSONIA – West side residents asked to conserve water until the 12” main at the destroyed Maple Street Bridge is repaired. Flood damaged buildings scheduled to be razed today: 37, 39, & 41-43 High Street, a building at the corner of Canal & Tremont Streets, 15 Maple Street, 49 Broad Street,&  6 South Cliff Street. A house at 63-65 Canal Street is also scheduled to be razed. The Red Cross closes the evacuation center at Ansonia High School. A bulldozer pushes the temporary Army Corps of Engineers Bailey Bridge across the river. It is 260’ long, and 20’ wide.
  • SEYMOUR –  Properties to be demolished so far are 9, 15 (the Ward Funeral Home) 22½ , 27, 35-37, & 43 Pine Street; 35, 39-41, & 67 Derby Avenue, a building on the corner of Bank Street & Third Street, and 31-37 Third Street. The Red Cross closes the evacuation center at Russian Hall on the west side.
  • DERBY – Mayor Dirienzo estimates the flood caused $50,000 in damage, and cost the city an additional $25,000 in services. Dworkin Ford donates a one ton Ford walk-in truck to Derby Civil Defense in appreciation for their work during the flood.

September 8

  • It is revealed today that Sikorsky helicopters rescued 475 people during the flood, including many from the Valley.
  • ANSONIA – Holy Rosary Church, which formally incorporated on August 16, 1955, has purchased its Main Street church from Assumption Church. Built in 1868, the church was the original edifice for Assumption Church, though it had been used by the predominately Italian Holy Rosary Church for 47 years.
  • SHELTON – A total of 2420 students will attend public school this year, an increase of 185 from the previous year. 468 of them are in the High School.
  • DERBY – A total of 2209 students will attend school this year. 1190 will attend public schools, including 372 at Derby High School. St. Mary’s School has 659 students, and St. Michael’s School has 360.
  • OXFORD – A total of 487 students attended opening day of school. The number may go to 500, as not all have returned from vacations. This figure does not include high school students, who attend Seymour High School.

September 9

  • ANSONIA – Upper Main Street opens to general traffic for the first time since the flood, from 5 PM to 9 PM. Below Bridge Street it is still closed. Every structure on White Place, including 11 buildings housing 20 families, must be razed. Thus far the flood has removed $1,116,249 from the Grand List.
  • SEYMOUR – Schools will not reopen until September 19.

September 10

  • Ansonia-Derby belt line buses restart for the first time since the flood.
  • ANSONIA – Two damaged buildings on the corner of High and Broad Streets must be demolished so traffic can flow over the Bailey Bridge.

Sunday, September 11, 1955

  • SEYMOUR – A number of flood-damaged structures in the Pine Street area are demolished today, including the Ward Funeral Home.

September 12

  • SEYMOUR – The First Congregational Church has set up a reconstruction fund. Wilton Public Library has started a campaign to restock the destroyed Seymour Library.
  • ANSONIA – Dangerous vibrations noted on the brick Douglas Building at the corner of High and Broad Streets. It will have to be razed. A new approach will also be built for Holy Rosary Church on Main Street. 12 private incinerators on lower Main Street must be removed. Oil drums that washed onto the flats along the river during the flood explode.

September 13

  • SEYMOUR – The State announces 55 buildings will be removed for construction of the new Route 8 expressway, affecting 96 families. This includes 18 buildings on Derby Avenue, 4 on Rose St, 1 on Emery Street, 5 on Grove Street, 4 on Vine St, 14 on Third Street, 6 on Second Street, and 3 on Bank Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The sign for the First Congregational Church is found where it washed away – in the Devon section of Milford. It is returned.
  • DERBY – The Creamery Package Manufacturing Company on Roosevelt Drive announces it will close at the end of the month, throwing 40 people out of work. It has been at this location since 1920.
  • ANSONIA – The Douglas Building is demolished.

September 14

  • ANSONIA – 7 more damaged buildings are on the demolition list. They include 3 Broad Street Buildings owned by Lemko Citizens Association at 113-115, 119, 121-123, affecting 6 families. Also a store on High Street, a laundry & 1-family dwelling at 5 Canal Street, a restaurant & 4-family dwelling at 7-9 Canal Street, and a store & 2 family dwelling on 38 Water Street. The temporary, one lane Bailey Bridge is now open, spanning the river from the end of Bank Street to Broad Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour Emergency Disaster Committee, formed after the flood, changes its name to the Seymour Temporary Town Planning Committee.
  • DERBY – Air Force First Lieutenant Joseph L. Hong Moo, of Third Street, is one of two killed when a P33 jet trainer crashes in Panama City, Florida. The 28-year-old city native had been married one year.

September 15

  • Eddy’s Bake Shops, at 317 Main Street Ansonia and 137 Main Street Seymour, reopen for the first time since the flood.
  • ANSONIA – A family of 10 watches their flood damaged home get demolished on 63 Central Avenue. They are currently living with friends, and now have no permanent residence.
  • SEYMOUR – Flood related losses to the town’s Grand List are estimated at $906,653.
  • SHELTON – The Police Department opens a new shooting range in the basement of the Sinsabaugh Garage on Center Street.

September 16

  • 95% of  the employees at both Farrel-Birmingham plants have returned to work from the strike, and the Ansonia and Derby factories have returned to full production.
  • The Shelton Gaels defeat the Seymour Wildcats 18-0 before 3,000 at Shelton’s Lafayette Field, in the high school football season opener .

September 17

  • DERBY – Pope Pius XII bestows a special blessing upon St. Michael’s Church on the eve of their 50th anniversary celebrations.
  • DERBY – The Derby Red Raiders tie the North Haven Indians 6-6, in the most-attended football game in North Haven to date. The tie was controversial, because of a questionable play which landed North Haven a touchdown with less than 5 minutes to the game.
  • ANSONIA – The tail race is still clogged with a massive amount of flood debris. This is a critical situation, and the Army Corps of Engineers and a Kansas City construction company are both working to clear it. The tail race is a holdover from the city’s industrial era, when the Ansonia Canal provided waterpower for factories along Main Street. The water exited the canal, into the Naugatuck River, via the tail race. In 1955, many of the city’s storm drains dumped their water into the tail race – leaving the city vulnerable to additional flooding if it is clogged.
  • ANSONIA – The Ansonia Lavender tie the Leavenworth Tigers 0-0 at the High School football team’s season opener at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium.

Sunday, September 18, 1955

  • DERBY – St. Michael’s Polish Roman Catholic Parish hosts a grand parade celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. The parade began on Derby Green and ended in front of the church.
  • DERBY – The flood damaged former McEnery Welding Company Building is demolished, near the corner of Main Street and Derby Avenue.

September 19 (One month after the Great Flood)

  • All Valley Civil Defense organizations, as well as police and fire departments go on high alert with the news that Hurricane Ione is approaching Connecticut.
  • DERBY – Unauthorized burning of the debris from the demolished former McEnery Welding Company Building gets out of control, nearly spreading the fire to the Mester Building on the corner of Derby Avenue and Main Street. The Fire Department puts out the blaze in time.

September 20

  • Hurricane Ione changes course, away from Connecticut. The flood-battered Valley breathes a sigh of relief.
  • ANSONIA – The Capitol Theater has been cleaned of all flood damage, and will reopen once the 1,019 new seats on order are received and installed. 
  • ANSONIA – The freight station has been cut in half to clean flood debris out of the tail race underneath it, which includes 2 automobiles. 
  • ANSONIA – Fearing additional flooding, some merchants moved their goods to high ground when the Hurricane Ione warning was received.

September 21

  • SEYMOUR – The Kerite Company announces a building program which involves additions and renovations to existing facilities, and construction of a new building upon their complex.

September 22

  • ANSONIA – Much Flood related news – The 11 homes and 17 garages and sheds of White Place are bulldozed. Considered substandard housing before the Flood, White Place ran east from Main Street, north of Beaver Brook. Many of the buildings originally stood on the “Railroad Property”, between lower Main Street and Canal Street (today’s West Main Street). When the Railroad announced the property would be cleared, the buildings were sold cheap and moved to White Place in 1905. At that time, the neighborhood was called “New Jerusalem”. Other newly condemned buildings include a home and store at 441 Main Street, a storage building at 82 Broad Street, and a store at 15 Colburn Street. A half million dollars of real estate has been razed due to flood damage up to this time. 18,551 typhoid vaccines administered by Griffin Hospital to Ansonia residents since the Flood. Big sale of sanitized, flood damaged items at Riordan’s Department Store draws huge crowds. Deciding the freight station is not worth saving, the Railroad begins demolishing it. The freight station, a long wood-frame building, was built in 1884. The State plans to totally reconstruct the Bridge Street Bridge.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers announces that the flood height in Seymour was 25 feet, while in Ansonia it was 19 feet.
  • SEYMOUR – The town’s last clothing disbursement center for flood evacuees closes.

September 23

  • High School Football – The Shelton Gaels defeat the Ansonia Lavender 39-6 at Nolan Field.
  • ANSONIA – The City will no longer collect flood debris along the street, starting today.

Sunday, September 25, 1955 (Five weeks after the Great Flood)

  • ANSONIA – Clinton AME Zion Church holds its first services at their Colburn Street edifice since being badly damaged by the flood.
  • DERBY – Funeral services are held for Air Force First Lieutenant Joseph L. Hong Moo at the Derby Methodist Church, who was killed in a plane crash in Florida. He is laid to rest at Oak Cliff.
  • DERBY – The Derby Aerie, Fraternal Order of Eagles holds a mortgage burning ceremony at their home at 294 Elizabeth Street. Two charter members light the match.

September 26

  • ANSONIA – The United States Army Corps of Engineers informs the city of new laws recently passed to aid the region’s flood recovery. The entire operation has now been christened “Operation Noah”. 
  • ANSONIA – The debris from Ansonia’s freight station, built in 1884 and destroyed in the flood, is burned.
  • DERBY – Football – Derby High’s Red Raiders defeats Wallingford’s Lyman Hall 20-0.

September 27

  • DERBY – A contract is awarded to tear down the Gates homestead on the corner of Derby Avenue and Bank Street. This magnificent Victorian home boasted 22 rooms on three stories, including 9 bedrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors, each with a sitting room. Also 2 bathrooms, and a powder room. The first floor boasted a butler’s pantry, dining & drawing rooms, 2 halls, and 2 parlors. Frank Gates, the last local member of the Gates family, died on July 25, 1954. Although he left his family’s considerable fortune to the New Haven Foundation for Valley charities and nonprofits, his will stipulated that no one would live in his family’s house, and that it must be torn down.

September 28

  • ANSONIA – Flood news – Douglas Willis, Washington correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation (the BBC), arrives in Ansonia to do a report on the city’s post-flood rehabilitation. Ansonia was chosen to represent the entire region for the British radio audience. The Red Cross awards a total of $64,073 to 41 Ansonia families to help them rebuild their lives after the flood. 
  • ANSONIA – The John C. Mead School on Factory Street, which was undergoing complete interior renovation before the flood, has a minor fire. Although there is not much fire damage, school officials are worried about long-term smoke damage.

September 29

  • ANSONIA – Two of the city’s largest food stores, A&P and First National reopen for the first time since the flood.
  • ANSONIA – The Harris Development Corp of New Haven announces plans to build 60 new homes south of the Ansonia Airport, between Pulaski Highway and Ford Street.
  • SEYMOUR – A small bulldozer is at work clearing debris inside Clark Memorial Gymnasium at Seymour High School.
  • DERBY – The Auxiliary Police has worked 3000 man-hours since the flood. 30 families in Derby and Shelton are seeking flood aid from the Red Cross.

September 30

  • ANSONIA – Because there is no money left in the police budget, Ansonia police are not paid on their normal payday. They cannot expect anything until the tax board meets October 3. Meanwhile, the National Safety Council recommends Ansonia hire 8 more officers and purchase 5 more police cars.
  • ANSONIA – football – Crosby High School of Waterbury defeats the Ansonia Lavender at Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium 25-7.

October 1955

October 1

  • SHELTON – Marine Sgt. Arthur Bruce Herdman, 23, of Huntington, dies of polio at Quantico Naval Hospital in Virginia. Sgt. Herdman is the first member of Huntington’s newly organized St. Lawrence parish to pass away.
  • OXFORD – A home on Coppermine Road, suspected of being the center of a Bridgeport area gambling ring, is raided by State Police.
  • SHELTON – Shelton High School defeats Wilby High School of Waterbury at Lafayette Field 40-6.
  • SEYMOUR – The Seymour High School Wildcats destroy Lyman Hall of Wallingford’s football team at French’s Field 44-0.
  • DERBY – The Derby Red Raiders are defeated by Branford 19-13.

Sunday, October 2, 1955 (Six weeks after the Great Flood)

  • ANSONIA – Much of the city loses power when an electrical cable fails at the destroyed Maple Street Bridge.
  • DERBY – 5 Yale students, all teens, injured when their station wagon crashes into a utility pole on New Haven Avenue. None of the injuries are life threatening.

October 3

  • ANSONIA – Dismantling of the remaining 125′ of viaduct on the east side of the destroyed Maple Street bridge begins.
  • OXFORD – Oxford’s First Selectman Frederick R. Bice, a Republican, is reelected 406-174. Townspeople also, vote to issue bonds of up to $300,000 to enlarge the Center School.
  • SEYMOUR – The sitting First Selectman, Harry Mannweiler, wins reelection by only 34 votes in a highly charged election. His Republican party’s majority in Seymour’s government reduced.
  • SEYMOUR – Strand Theater opens for the first time since the flood. 13 rows of seats had to be replaced.

October 4

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Sheasby asks the Army Corps of Engineers to replace the destroyed Division Street Bridge with a temporary span.
  • SEYMOUR – The entire length of Route 8 through town is open for the first time since the flood.

October 5

  • The Army Reserve plans to organize an infantry company in the Lower Valley.
  • DERBY – The Board of Aldermen is considering a youth curfew due to increasing problems at night with teenagers. Among the problems are teens loitering and blasting car radios at an Elizabeth Street diner, and drag racing on Third Street. In one case, the hot rods were racing backwards.
  • SEYMOUR – “Mayak”, a 30 room summer hotel with 5 acres and 300′ of riverfront along the Housatonic River off Roosevelt Drive, has been sold. The new owners plan to continue to use it as a summer hotel. “Mayak” means “lighthouse” in Russian.
  • SEYMOUR – The first 3 prefabricated homes for flood victims finally arrive. They are set up on Kerite’s property on Pearl Street.

October 6

  • SHELTON – Public hearing on a petition to open a drive-in movie theater on the Petremont property on River Road. The decision is tabled.

October 7

  • ANSONIA & DERBY – 36 Pattern makers strike at the Farrel-Birmingham plants. Other production workers refuse to cross the picket lines.
  • ANSONIA – Railroad freight service restored for the first time since the flood today.
  • ANSONIA – The Stamford Black Knights defeat Ansonia High School’s football team 49-0.
  • SEYMOUR – Books are pouring in from all over the country to restore the destroyed Seymour Public Library’s collection.

October 8

  • ANSONIA – The Sherwin-Williams paint store on 96 Main Street reopens for the first time since the flood.
  • SEYMOUR – Southington High School defeats Seymour 26-0.
  • SHELTON – Shelton High’s football team suffers its first loss of the season, to East Haven 13-0

Sunday, October 9, 1955 (Seven weeks after the Great Flood)

  • ANSONIA – A picture of the Maple Street Bridge, destroyed by the flood and now being demolished, appears in the New Haven Register.

October 11

  • ANSONIA – When a group of engineers inspect the tail race, they begin sinking in the mud while underneath the G. C. Murray Company store, forcing them to abandon the effort. 
  • SEYMOUR – The first freight train since the flood enters Seymour. The Board of Aldermen vote to ask for Federal assistance to repair or replace the flood damaged Seymour High School. Work of cleaning the flood debris from the Seymour Congregational Church continuing.

October 12

  • DERBY – The City receives $10,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers for flood damage reimbursement.
  • ANSONIA – In an incredible case of foreshadowing, City Engineer Vincent B. Clarke warns the Ansonia Rotary that the Naugatuck River’s bed is 4-6′ above normal after flood, making City much more vulnerable to additional flooding. He says the tail race was last cleaned in 1914, and now overwhelmed with debris it should be abandoned. The Sentinel publishes an editorial the following day supporting Engineer Clarke’s recommendations.
  • ANSONIA – Girard Lines Clemons, 54, is found dead under tragic circumstances at his James Street home. He was secretary of Ansonia Lumber Company and Vice President of Housatonic Lumber Company, both badly damaged in the flood. A popular figure, many mourn his passing.

October 13

  • ANSONIA – The City receives $34,200 from the Army Corps of Engineers for flood damage reimbursement. Mayor Sheasby asks Federal authorities to restore the Naugatuck River’s bed to pre-flood levels. Connecticut Senator Prescott Bush (father of the 41st President, grandfather of the 43rd), while visiting area towns on this date, says he will ask the Army Corps of Engineers to do so. Coincidently, the Army Corps of Engineers announces they will pull out of Ansonia on October 15.

October 14

  • The US Weather Bureau issues a special advisory for Connecticut warning of high winds, heavy rain, and “some danger of local flooding”. As of 1 PM there was “no noteworthy rise” of the Naugatuck River over at Ansonia and Seymour, though all Valley towns go on alert.
  • ANSONIA – Lincoln School finally reopens, after being delayed by renovations and the flood. The Capitol Theater, now reopened after the flood damage was repaired, is once again attracting large crowds.
  • DERBY – Many are upset over new parking meters which have been placed in areas never metered before, including parts of Caroline, Minerva, and Olivia Streets.
  • OXFORD – Proposal to build a campus-style school behind Center School, featuring several two-classroom units. Conceptual drawings appear in the Sentinel.
  • SHELTON – Governor Ribicoff sends a letter of commendation to the Shelton Civil Defense Communications Unit for their roles in the August flood.

October 15

  • IT HAPPENED AGAIN!!! Some general notes of the October 15, 1955 Flood: Although the results were the same in some places, this was an entirely different flood than the August 19, 1955 Flood. While the August event was the result of two hurricanes deluging the headwaters of the Naugatuck River, the October event was caused by a front which brought a record 9.47″ of rain in a 72-hour period ending at 8 AM this date. For this reason, the damage was differently distributed than August. While serious flooding occurred in Ansonia, it was not as bad as August, and the damage would have been far less had the riverbed not been elevated. Although 400 families spend the night in evacuation centers in Seymour, that town’s damage was light compared to the August catastrophe. By contrast, areas that were not badly effected in August that had many small streams, such as Oxford and Huntington, were badly damaged. Likewise, the Housatonic River actually flooded worse than the Naugatuck, badly damaging the Roosevelt Drive area and backing up into the mouth of the Naugatuck. Because of this, the damage in Derby was roughly comparable to August. Also, the flood continued significantly longer, going into Sunday, October 16. Some details below:
  • ANSONIA – The Bailey Bridge was closed at 5:00 AM, and lashed down in the hope it would prevent it from washing away. At 8:30 AM, water began pouring into the tail race, eventually reaching many basements which are connected to it. By 9:00 AM, the Naugatuck River was within two feet of the railroad bed behind the Ansonia Opera House. At 10:30 AM, an inch of water was on the ground floor of the Capitol Theater Building. Ansonia Police called in extra shifts, and set up a branch station at the Fountain Hose Company #1 firehouse, in case the river split the city in two again. Having received adequate warning, many merchants were able to move their goods out of harm’s way. The Bailey Bridge, built only a month ago by the Army Corps of Engineers, washes away after the center pier collapses Saturday night. The Main and Broad Street areas go underwater again. The newly repaired railroad tracks are inundated. A Powe Street woman suffers a fatal heart attack while evacuating. The Army Corps of Engineers authorizes a study on reducing the Naugatuck River’s bed to pre-flood levels. 
  • DERBY – The new dike at Center Drive-In on Division Street bursts at 10:00 AM, causing floodwaters to inundate the area. The new Storm Engine Company boat (replacing the one badly damaged in the August flood), retrieved the movie projector equipment before water reached it, at 3:00 PM. The CR&L bus company moves its busses from its Main Street terminal onto the Route 8 expressway late in the morning, to get them out of harm’s way. The Storm’s boat rescued 25 people from the lower Caroline Street area at 8:00 PM. At 10:00 PM, the Naugatuck River began overflowing its east bank. By 11:30 PM the water crossed Derby Avenue.
  • SEYMOUR – The Naugatuck River rises menacingly, then falls sharply. Great Hill Church serves as a shelter for 60 evacuees from the Roosevelt Drive area. The High School, Congregational Church, and some factories are flooded anew.
  • OXFORD – The town declares a State of Emergency, and closes all schools until further notice. The road bridges on East Hill, Laughlin, and O’Neill Roads are completely washed out. The Hubbell Road bridge is deemed  unsafe. Washouts occur on on Edmonds, Great Hill, Bec Mountain, Hinman, Jackson’s Cove, & Freeman Roads. Sections of Route 67 are washed out, too. Many cottages along the Housatonic River are smashed by the floodwaters.
  • SHELTON – The flooding along the Housatonic is worse than it was in August. Parts of Huntington have to evacuate due to small stream flooding. Huntington Center is completely isolated off from the rest of Shelton. Parts of River Road, Center Street, and Canal Street are underwater.

Sunday, October 16, 1955 

  • The second great flood to strike the area in two months continues into its second day. The water begins receding in the middle of the day. The water is actually higher along the length of the Housatonic River, as well as the mouth of the Naugatuck River in Derby, than it was in August.
  • ANSONIA – National Guardsmen rescue people trapped in flooded cars on Mill Street. Beaver Brook overflows its banks. Downtown Ansonia once again is inundated by water, though not as high as it was in August. Finally, in a really bad case of timing, the Army Corps of Engineers informs Mayor Sheasby that dredging the silt Naugatuck River will literally take an Act of Congress. It is the silt deposited from the August flood which has raised the Naugatuck riverbed in Ansonia, magnifying the damage from this second flood. 
  • OXFORD – The town has declared a State of Emergency. All schools are closed, due to small stream flooding and the bridges and roads that are washed out.
  • SHELTON – The Far Mill River and Means Brook overflows its bank. The bridge on Far Mill Street is washed out. Because of the bridge’s close proximity to a reservoir dam, there is a fear that the dam is about to burst, causing a number of Huntington residents to evacuate in the early morning hours. They are taken to the Monroe Center firehouse. At 3:30 AM Huntington resident Howard Miner’s car is pushed against a utility pole by the force of the water while crossing the Far Mill River bridge on Nichols Avenue. He is swept to his death while exiting the car. Around the same time, 30 Birchbank residents are evacuated by a small railroad locomotive pulling a caboose, after 3 landslides block Indian Well Road.
  • DERBY – Local firemen evacuate lower Caroline Street residents by boat.

October 18

  • Seymour High School’s football team beats Derby High School 33-19 at Coon Hollow Park.
  • ANSONIA – Incensed Ansonia merchants are sending many telegrams to State and Federal politicians, saying “the second flood makes discussions with us imperative”. The Navy sends 25 pumps to the City.
  • OXFORD – The State of Emergency is lifted, and schools reopen. However, the damage estimate to town roads and property is raised to $100,000.
  • SEYMOUR -The Board of Aldermen will request $200,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers to repair or replace the flood-damaged High School.

October 19

  • ANSONIA – Federal Civil Defense administrator Val Peterson meets with Mayor Sheasby, and tells him he will try to get a  “fast survey” on dredging the silt out of the Naugatuck River, which continues to leave Ansonia so vulnerable to flooding. While Mr. Peterson does assure he will try to do so when he returns to Washington shortly, he also adds he is “completely without authority”. As the meeting takes place in City Hall, a crowd including Main Street merchants hold protest signs urging dredging.
  • DERBY – Charlton Press president John Santangelo manages to wire Vice President Richard Nixon, telling him the Lower Naugatuck Valley cannot withstand another flood, and the Naugatuck River must be dredged. The reason Nixon was contacted is President Eisenhower recently suffered a heart attack, and the Vice President had assumed the President’s duties during his recovery. 
  • DERBY – The President of Housatonic Lumber assures customers the old company is still in business, despite crippling losses from both floods, due to its proximity to the rivers.
  • DERBY – Governor Ribbicoff arrives by helicopter to Coon Hollow Park. There he successfully mediates whirlwind negotiations between Housatonic Public Service Company and its employees’ labor union, sending them into arbitration and avoiding a strike at this important regional utility company.
  • SEYMOUR – The Governor, flying all over the State in his helicopter in the wake of the latest flood, meets with the heads of Seymour Manufacturing & the New Haven Copper companies in Ridgefield. For the second time in 2 months, both are now completely out of production due to flood damage. Meanwhile, the town is seeking an additional $113,642.03 from the Federal Government for town property damage.
  • SHELTON – Search parties finally locate Howard Miner’s body, 500′ downstream from where it was swept away from the flooding on October 16. He was the only Lower Naugatuck Valley area drowning victim in the October flood.

October 20

  • ANSONIA – Gov. Abraham Ribicoff tours the City, and agrees the silt must be dredged from the Naugatuck River. Meanwhile, Federal CD administrator Val Peterson keeps his word, and tells Mayor Sheasby that a team of engineers will arrive to evaluate the silt conditions in Ansonia on October 24.
  • SEYMOUR – Governor Ribicoff tours Seymour, and meets with industrialists. He publicly agrees the silt must be dredged from the Naugatuck River.

October 21

  • The Hamden High School football team defeats Ansonia High 21-13.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Building Inspector Pietrangelo, in his Annual report, says that Fiscal Year 1955, which ended October 14, saw the biggest building boom in the City’s history. A total of 225 building permits were issued, 110 for new homes. Between 1948 and 1955, 548 new home permits were authorized in Ansonia.
  • SHELTON – Washout damage to roads estimated $77,500. This includes the bridge approaches to Beard Saw Mill Road, Old Town Road, Far Mill Street, & Sawmill Road. Washouts also occurred on Mohegan Road, Booth Hill Road, Indian Well Road, and Pine Rock Park’s Manhassett Trail.

October 22

  • North Haven High School’s football team defeats Seymour High School 12-0.
  • The Shelton High School football team defeats Wallingford’s Lyman Hall 34-6.
  • ANSONIA – The Army Corps of Engineers is now reportedly reluctant to build another Bailey Bridge in Ansonia. The last one they built in Ansonia cost $200,000, and lasted only a month and a day before being destroyed in the October 15 flood. It was the only Bailey Bridge destroyed on the Naugatuck River in the October flood. With this controversy going on, it looks increasingly less likely a second Bailey will be built on Division Street. This leaves only the damaged Bridge Street Bridge as the only remaining crossing over the river, and traffic is a nightmare at rush hour.

Monday, October 24, 1955 

  • A sudden wind and rain storm smashes a shop window in Ansonia, and disrupts telephone service to 100 customers each in Seymour and Oxford.
  • ANSONIA – Salvage begins on the Bailey Bridge, destroyed in the October 15 flood after barely lasting a month. Meanwhile, Mayor Sheasby and the United States Army Corps of Engineers meet over his request to replace it with another one, and as well as build a similar structure on Division Street. Bailey Bridge. The Army sounds a pessimistic tone, stating that the loss of the last Bailey Bridge cost $200,000, and noted of all the Baileys constructed on the Naugatuck River after the August flood, the only one lost in the October flood was in Ansonia. Although possible new sites are being explored, it doesn’t look good, but traffic in Ansonia, which is now down to one, damaged bridge, is a nightmare.
  • SHELTON – Far Mill Street reopens after the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company plugs a 30′ hole in the bridge right next to the reservoir dam. This is what caused the panic that the dam was about to burst in the early morning hours of October 16, while the flood was still in progress, leading to a large section of Huntington evacuating.

October 25

  • ANSONIA – Evening Sentinel reporters collect oil from the tail race, and are able to set it on fire. The issue comes up later in the day in a meeting between local manufacturers and the Army Corps of Engineers’ survey board. While the board admits oil from the flood debris clogged tail race under downtown will burn if set on fire, thought it is not explosive. Many testify that the riverbed level is raised due to the silt deposited after the flood, and must be dredged at once to prevent a third disastrous flood.
  • SEYMOUR – A large safe belonging to Seymour Auto & Supply, missing since the August flood, is found near the Kinneytown Dam.

October 26

  • ANSONIA – Ansonia Wire & Cable announces it will move to Rhode Island next year.
  • ANSONIA – An Ansonia alderman marvels at Mayor Sheasby’s patience, and says if every dignitary who visited the tail race were given a shovel, it would be cleaned out by now.

October 27

  • The New Haven Railroad is pressing ahead with track repairs from the October 15 flood. Service still has not been restored to the Naugatuck Valley.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia defeats Derby 34-13 at Nolan Field.
  • ANSONIA – Pictures of Ansonia flood damage is featured in current issues of the magazines NewsweekFortune, and LifeNewsweek does article on Ansonia after the second flood, and quotes an alderman saying he’ll sponsor a “march on Washington” if silt not removed.
  • ANSONIA – General Sturgis, the head of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, comes to Ansonia to personally evaluate the silt situation. He pledges he will support “maximum aid within Public Law 875 if the river qualifies” to Mayor Sheasby.

October 29

  • OXFORD – A 26-year old Derby man is killed when his car hits a tree on Route 188 in Quaker Farms, near the Southbury line. Because the man was a Korean War veteran, the Mayor of Derby orders flags flown at half staff.
  • DERBY – Former Derby Police Chief Thomas VanEtten, 73, of 242 Olivia Street dies. He was appointed to the police department in 1910, was named chief on June 16, 1927. He served as chief until he retired on January 10, 1955.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Branford defeats Seymour High School football team 27-7. Shelton defeats the North Haven Indians 27-0.

Monday, October 31, 1955 

  • The United States Army Corps of Engineers announce that removal of silt washed up from the August flood, which leaves the area so vulnerable to further flooding, can begin in Ansonia and Seymour within a month.
  • HALLOWEEN – Quiet Halloween in Ansonia. Derby reports children are getting their trick or treat bags stolen in the Second Ward. The Seymour Lion’s Club gives silver dollars to town children who are home after they telephone them after 9 PM. Shelton’s Playground Commission also calls 100 children after 9 PM and awards prizes to those home.
  • SEYMOUR – The New York City Public Library donates 200 reference books to help rebuild the destroyed collection of the Seymour Public Library.

November 1955

November 1

  • Senator Prescott Bush (father of the 41st President) blasts the Senate Banking Committee over “flood politics”, and urges them to move on proposals for federal disaster insurance. Later in the day he was called to task by some of his Senate colleagues, and had to defend a $1.8 million government loan to flood damaged Hershey Metal Products on Division Street. Because this debate so directly effects the Valley, the Sentinel follows the story very closely.

November 2

  • SEYMOUR – 100 Seymour electors vote to form a Planning Commission and Redevelopment Commission at a special town meeting. These will help the town apply and qualify for federal funds to help recover from the flood disaster.
  • DERBY – Senator Prescott Bush announces a Small Business Loan of $690,000 to Derby’s flood damaged Charleton Press.
  • SHELTON – High School principal Karl Tarbell suffers a heart attack while greeting freshman parents at a ‘get acquainted’ gathering at the school. He is rushed to Griffin Hospital, and reported resting comfortably the following day. He recovers.

November 3

  • ANSONIA – It is announced that losses from both the August and October floods exceeded $15.5 million in Ansonia, not counting personal losses. Industry suffered $7,889,575 in August and $1,979,200 in October.
  • ANSONIA – The new Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church is nearing completion between Howard Avenue and Clifton Avenue.
  • SEYMOUR – Freight rail service, interrupted again by the October flood, restarts between Waterbury and Seymour.

November 4

  • ANOTHER FLOOD SCARE! – The fourth one since August. A total of 3.81 inches of rain falls in a 48 hour period. The Naugatuck River rises until 4:30 AM, then recedes. The rain turned to snow above Torrington, which helped ease the situation upstream. 
  • ANSONIA – After two major floods, industries and merchants took no chances, and machines and stock were hurriedly removed from basements. Acknowledging the Valley’s vulnerability due to the silt condition in the River, the State Civil Defense director sets up his headquarters at Ansonia City Hall. Some basements flood, but the area is spared from another widespread disaster.
  • DERBY – An injured man is rescued after Two-Mile Brook washes out his driveway. He is removed by ladders placed over the brook by the Derby Fire Department.
  • SEYMOUR – Precautionary measures are taken as the river rises, but no major damage is reported. Emery Street, which contained 5 houses between Derby Avenue and Cedar Street, is washed out.

November 5

  • ANSONIA – In the wake of this latest flood scare, Mayor Sheasby again implores the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up report on Ansonia, which is being held up due to special conditions that include Naugatuck River tides, the tail race, and silt.
  • Derby does not support Ansonia’s request that the Army Corps of Engineers install a temporary Bailey Bridge on Division Street, favoring instead to wait for a special upcoming State General Assembly session. This is because Division Street is a State Road, and it is hoped that the State will be more inclined to fund a permanent bridge if there is no temporary span. In an editorial, the Sentinel announces it agrees with Ansonia that a temporary span should be erected to ease traffic congestion in downtown Ansonia.

Sunday, November 6, 1955 

  • DERBY – A car strikes a tree on Great Hill Road, injuring 2 teenagers. This is the same tree that injured 5 teenagers in a very similar accident 8 months ago.

November 7

  • SHELTON – Chief of Police William S. Donovan is removed by ambulance to St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven after being stricken at the Police Station the night before.

November 8

  • ANSONIA – Lt. Gen. Samuel Sturgis, Chief of Army Corps of Engineers, orders Brig. Gen. Robert J. Fleming Jr, division engineer of New England, to remove silt from the Naugatuck River between the American Brass Company hydraulic plant to the railroad bridge below Bridge Street. Will cut down the silt down 1 1/2 to 2 feet,, preventing an October style Flood recurrence. Despite this good news, the  Retail Merchant’s Branch of the Ansonia Chamber of Commerce continues to press for removal of the flood threat at an evening meeting. They appoint a  3-person committee to ascertain what federal agency has control of the $300 million earmarked for flood control programs. Mayor Sheasby tells them he wrote a letter to General Fleming, telling him that the city plans to install a storm water sewer system to replace the clogged tail race, and needs federal funds to do so.
  • SEYMOUR – The Army Corps of Engineers allocates $74,543 to repair the flood damaged Seymour High School. The town had hoped for $200,000.
  • DERBY – The Naugatuck River silt clogs the Ansonia sanitary sewer’s outfall at the Center Drive-In on Division Street in Derby, causing sewage to back up and creating a terrible mess that is a dangerous menace to public health.
  • SHELTON – Chief Donovan undergoes surgery. Is reported in “poor” condition.

November 9

  • SEYMOUR – The Army Corps of Engineers begin dredging operations in the Naugatuck River near the Matthews Company off River Street.
  • ANSONIA – The Mariani Construction Company starts rebuilding the Kinneytown Dam (which is actually in Seymour) for the American Brass Company. The same firm will rebuild the American Brass Company Bridge over the Naugatuck River in Ansonia.
  • ANSONIA – After being washed out 3 times since August, the railroad decides to move the tracks between Bridge and Maple Streets as far as 40′ inland.
  • DERBY – General Fleming informs Derby that the Naugatuck River will not be dredged there, since its “primarily influenced by backwater from the Housatonic”. He also says the dump near the Main Street bridge encroaches the waterway and should be removed. The Mayor is outraged, and the City’s Corporate Council will ask for same treatment as Ansonia.

November 10

  • The Red Cross officially closes its disaster operation for Ansonia and Seymour in a gala event at Ansonia’s Masonic Temple. A total of $1,031,791 was spent in disaster relief.
  • SHELTON – Police Chief William C. Donovan dies at St. Raphael’s Hospital in New Haven. Appointed in 1899, he became Chief in 1919, and served for 36 years until his death. He was a popular, respected figure, and many mourn his passing.
  • DERBY – Derby officially protests the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to not dredge the Naugatuck River silt to Gen. Fleming. Later in the day the Corps says they’ll take another look.
  • DERBY – Mayor Anthony Dirienzo undergoes surgery at Griffin Hospital
  • ANSONIA – More flood damaged buildings to be demolished – 3 structures  that housed a total of 3 stores and 6 families at 5-7 and 9 Canal Street, and 38 Water Street. Also 2 garages 170 Broad Street and 16 Maple Street. A total of 81 buildings have been demolished in Ansonia from flood related causes.
  • ANSONIA – The Army Corps of Engineers plan a 150′ wide channel for the Naugatuck River through Ansonia. A point of land that the west end of the destroyed Maple Street Bridge sat on will be eliminated to remove a potential bottleneck.
  • ANSONIA – Announced that the assets of the Ansonia Lumber Company were sold to the Howard Arnold Company of New Haven. It was in the hands of the Lines-Clemons family who founded and ran the company for 75 years.

November 11

  • SEYMOUR – As of this time, 32 prefab homes have been erected at what’s now called Kertie Court on Pearl Street in Seymour. 6 are occupied, and more will be coming. This is considered temporary housing for flood refugees.
  • DERBY – 100 gallons of gasoline blows up after being spilled on a hot pump motor being used in flood repairs at the East Derby trestle of the Maybrook railroad line. The ensuing fire threatens to destroy the trestle, but the Derby Fire Department saves this vital transportation link, and rail service is restored within hours.
  • DERBY – Mayor Dirienzo is resting comfortably at Griffin Hospital, though he is not allowed visitors. He writes a letter to General Fleming from his sickbed about the river silt, refuting many of the Corps’ reasons for refusing to move it, and saying Derby “won’t be the flood catch basin of the Valley”.
  • ANSONIA – Local 445, International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, sends letters to Connecticut senators and congressmen asking “that something be done once and for all to remove the possibility of another flood in the Valley”.

November 12

  • ANSONIA – An “amphibious bulldozer” is at work in the Naugatuck River retrieving a large section of the Army’s Bailey Bridge, destroyed in the October flood, which is already buried under silt.
  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia beats Sacred Heart of Waterbury 27-6. Naugatuck beats Seymour 13-8. Shelton beats the previously undefeated Branford Hornets 13-0.

Sunday, November 13, 1955 

  • DERBY – Dworkin Ford donates a new 1956 Ford station wagon to the local Salvation Army.

November 14

  • SHELTON – The Board of Aldermen denies permission to erect a Dairy Delite ice cream stand application on Route 110 near Indian Well State Park.

November 15

  • ANSONIA – Mayor Sheasby asks the State Highway Commissioner to make rebuilding Maple Street Bridge a top state priority.
  • SEYMOUR – The State Highway Commissioner is asked to reopen the two Broad Street bridges closed since the August flood, as it may take years before they are replaced.

November 16

  • DERBY – Facing mounting pressure, the Army Corps of Engineers agrees to “reevaluate” its decision not to dredge silt deposited by the floods in the Naugatuck River.
  • ANSONIA – “The Valley’s Newest Merchandising Concept”, called Ansonia’s Discount Store, opens on 153 Main Street “Between the Two Banks”. It boasts that it saves its customers money through self service, cash & carry, no sales people, no decorations, etc. – basically what we’re used to today.  The store has 15 departments.

November 17

  • DERBY – The entire community is shocked when Harry F. Colwell Sr., undertaker and owner of Colwell Funeral Home on 116 Elizabeth Street, dies in the funeral parlors. He was 55 years old, and the 3rd generation of his family to run the funeral home.
  • SEYMOUR – Freight service, disrupted by floods, restarts once again in Seymour.
  • ANSONIA – The State announces it wants to rebuild the weakened but still usable Bridge Street Bridge, before the destroyed Maple Street Bridge. After loud complaints this would “ruin Ansonia”, the State agrees to rebuild Maple Street Bridge first, as soon as plans are finalized and steel is available. The destroyed Division Street Bridge will be rebuilt too.
  • SHELTON – The B.F. Goodrich retail store opens at 310 Howe Avenue. This is on the corner with Hill Street, only a block from the B.F. Goodrich Sponge Rubber Products Division main entrance.

November 18

  • ANSONIA – The Sentinel has a picture of three buildings being removed on Canal Street  between Water Street and Bridge Street.

November 19

  • A minor snowstorm strikes the area.
  • DERBY – Voters narrowly approve a bond of $125,000 to build a new firehouse for the Storm Engine Company by a vote of 643-641.

Sunday, November 20, 1955 

  • ANSONIA – St. Anthony’s Church marks its 40th anniversary with a banquet.
  • SEYMOUR – Seymour Congregational Church holds a mass of Thanksgiving after holding services for the first time since the August 19 flood. A check for $1,200 was presented by the Ansonia Congregational Church. A total of $80,000 in repairs were needed. Those attending described the joyous mood of the service similar to Easter.

November 21

  • SHELTON – Board of Aldermen president Bartholomew R. Flaherty is named the new Police Chief, to replace the late Chief Donovan, by the Police Commissioner. From the description in the paper, it appears his experience includes being on the Aldermanic Police Committee for 7 years.

November 22

  • DERBY – The Army Corps of Engineers decides it will dredge below the Division Street Bridge off Derby.
  • OXFORD – High water on Housatonic again. A huge section of land on the north side of French’s Cove on Lake Zoar, Oxford, slides into the lake, taking trees, a dock, and several boats with it. The section measures 100’x35′, and at press time further cave-ins are continuing. This is actually not the first time this occurred on Lake Zoar.


  • HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL – Ansonia loses to Naugatuck 13-6 at Nolan Field. Shelton beats Derby at Coon Hollow Park 34-14.

November 25

  • SEYMOUR – 19 of the prefab homes for flood refugees are now occupied in the temporary Kerite Court housing development. The rent is $25 a month for a maximum of 18 months.
  • ANSONIA – The new Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church is open for inspection for the first time. It will be dedicated Sunday.
  • ANSONIA – Congressman Patterson assures Ansonia another Bailey Bridge will soon replace the one destroyed in the October flood.
  • ANSONIA – Ansonia turns on its Christmas lights for the first time. Mayor Sheasby’s 4 year old son has the honor of pulling the switch.

November 26

  • DERBY – A fire breaks out in the furniture warehouse of Derby Floor Covering on First Street, causing about $10,000 in damages. The fire occurred during the Storm Engine Company Ball, causing the hall to empty of its firemen.

Monday, November 28, 1955

  • SEYMOUR – The Superintendent of Schools tells the State General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee he is afraid flood damaged Seymour High School will not be ready to reopen in September of 1956. He was originally hoping for January 1, but more damage is being revealed even as repairs take place.

November 29, 1955

  • The Federal Communications Commission approves a 500 watt radio station for the Valley Broadcasting Corp. A transmitter building and antenna will be built on Great Hill Road in Derby and the studios will be in Ansonia. No call letters have been assigned yet.
  • SHELTON – City turns on its Christmas lights for the first time this season on Howe Avenue and Center Street.

November 30

  • ANSONIA – Shelton’s B. N. Beard Construction Company awarded the contract to replace the tail race, which is completely obsolete and clogged with flood debris, with a storm water drainage system along Main Street, East Main Street, and North Cliff Street.
  • ANSONIA – The Army Corps of Engineers announces a replacement for the Bailey Bridge that was destroyed in the October Flood, which in turn replaced the Maple and Division Street bridges destroyed in the August Flood, has been approved. Construction will start “at once”. Many are relieved, traffic is a nightmare with only the damaged Bridge Street Bridge intact.
  • SEYMOUR – Businesses wiped out by the flood are reopening on Lower Main Street, with most planning on being back on their feet over the Christmas season or by January 1. A number of stores are installing aluminum fronts with red cedar trim, giving the area a “whole new look”. Conspicuously absent is the Food Shoppe, which will not reopen. The owner, Aniello Attruia, started in 1910 as a food peddler, his wagon being pulled by a blind horse. He opened a fruit and vegetable market in the Chatfield Building in 1921, and moved across the street to the Harris Block in 1928. He expanded into meats and groceries in 1930, and ten years later remodeled a 1 story building, conducting a successful business there for 15 years before the Flood destroyed everything. His is only one story in the great tragedy and destruction that visisted the Valley in the August 1955 Flood and its aftermath.
  • SHELTON – Contract awarded to replace the flood damaged culvert and road on Indian Well Road, and the bridge over Means Brook on Sawmill City Road.
  • OXFORD – Contract awarded to repair flood damaged East Hill Road Bridge over Five Mill Brook, and O’Neil Road Bridge over Eight Mile Brook.

December 1955

December 1

  • DERBY – Bowing to public pressure, the City starts removing the controversial new parking meters on Minerva Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets, and Third Street between Caroline and Minerva Streets. Residents were outraged when the city installed the meters in these places, where there never had been any before, while replacing the City’s existing meters.
  • SHELTON – Bartholomew R. Flaherty is sworn in by Mayor LeMay as Shelton’s new Chief of Police, replacing the late Chief Donovan. His first pronouncement is his wishes for an accident-free Safe Driving Day, the nationwide observance of which is on this date.
  • ANSONIA – It is announced today that despite the fact every Grand List on file at Ansonia City Hall, dating all the way back to 1877, was destroyed by the Flood, they were still readable. They have been microfilmed, and duplicates made, so the historic records can be preserved. Every year was microfilmed except 1952, which was unreadable, and in that case the tax records themselves were microfilmed.

December 2

  • ANSONIA – Workmen are removing flood silt and debris from under the railroad trestle over the Naugatuck River.
  • DERBY – The City turns on its Christmas lights on Main Street and Elizabeth Street for the first time this year. The event occurs as snow falls. Loudspeakers have also been rigged along Main Street to play Christmas songs while stores are open during the season.

Sunday, December 4, 1955

  • Beginning today, Ansonia-Derby-Shelton telephone exchange may call the Seymour-Oxford exchange and back toll free. The new service was celebrated with ceremonies at the newly expanded SNET building on First Street in Seymour.
  • ANSONIA – New England Greek Orthodox Bishop Athenagoras visits Holy Trinity Church in Ansonia. Accompanied by a large crowd, he attends evening vespers.

December 5

  • Shareholders of the Housatonic Public Service Corporation, the former Derby Gas & Electric Company, vote to extend their gas mains to Seymour.
  • ANSONIA – Theodore Bristol dies at the age of 85. Was very prominent businessman for most of his life, he also served as Chairman of Ansonia Water Company. He was President of Bristol Drug Company, and involved in a multitude of business and civic organizations and projects in Ansonia, including the Boy Scouts, Red Cross, Griffin Hospital, Salvation Army, YMCA, and Christmas Seals.
  • ANSONIA – A $118,616 contract for general cleaning of the Naugatuck River bed off Ansonia is awarded. Also, the Federal Government will award Ansonia $62,500 to eliminate the tail race and replace it with a storm water sewer serving Main Street, East Main Street, and South Cliff Street.
  • SEYMOUR – The Army Corps of Engineers says clearing the Naugatuck River channel of flood silt and debris is being delayed in Seymour by disputes over property rights and right of ways.

December 6

  • ANSONIA – The Chamber of Commerce, at its annual meeting, votes unanimously to endorse pressing the US Senate for permanent flood control measures.


  • ANSONIA – Linett’s Hardware Store has a grand reopening on 391 Main Street, the first time it was open since August. The store was badly damaged in both floods, and then just before it was to reopen a water pipe burst in the basement, setting the reopening back another two weeks.
  • ANSONIA – Army Corps of Engineers awards a contract to remove sections of the remnants of the American Brass Company Bridge under the Naugatuck River that could not be burned away with underwater torches. Also to remove the large section of the Maple Street Bridge span, that lies underwater beneath silt and debris. Both bridges were destroyed in the August 19 flood.
  • ANSONIA – Santa Claus is greeted by 1800 cheering children as he arrives on Main Street on the Webster Hose Company pumper, accompanied by sirens and clanging bells. He is welcomed by Mayor Sheasby, and distributes lollypops and popcorn balls.

December 9

  • ANSONIA – A bill giving Ansonia the right to acquire property along the Naugatuck River for flood control purposes passes the State House of Representatives and is sent to the Senate.
  • ANSONIA – A dozen new voting machines arrive to replace those destroyed in City Hall’s basement in the August flood.
  • ANSONIA – Large mounds of silt are being piled on the west bank of the Naugatuck River from the dredging that is going on. The new American Brass Company bridge is progressing, several hundred feet north of the destroyed span.
  • SEYMOUR – American Brass Company is proceeding with the rebuilding of the destroyed Kinneytown Dam.
  • SEYMOUR – The State is acquiring all property on the island in the Naugatuck River, which Broad Street crosses. The island will eventually be excavated to improve water flow in the channel, and the Broad Street bridges the connect both ends of it will have to be replaced, possibly by Bailey Bridges as a temporary measure. Meanwhile the Army Corps of Engineers has begun channel clearing operations in the river.
  • DERBY – An old 3 story concrete tenement block on Olivia Street near Third Street is being razed by the Derby Savings Bank to make room for future expansion.

December 10

  • ANSONIA – The US Government has obtained 81.9 acres for a NIKE anti ballistic missile base, which will start construction next year. 57.5 of it is in Ansonia, the rest in Woodbridge, in the area of Deerfield Lane, Osborn Road, and the Ansonia Airport. 200 will be stationed there. NIKE missiles carried a small nuclear warhead, and were intended as a last ditch defense against Soviet airborne nuclear attacks by destroying the bombers with high altitude nuclear explosions. Fortunately for humanity, the weapon system was never used.

Monday, December 12, 1955

  • DERBY – Mrs. Edith M. Howe, widow of Derby Mayor Alfred Howe (1907-1908) dies in Oradell, NJ. She is buried at Oak Cliff three days later.

December 13

  • ANSONIA – State Senate approves a bill giving Ansonia more authority to seize land for flood control purposes. The bill is passed to the Governor.
  • SHELTON – The Shelton Flood Disaster Committee reports $5,943 collected. 17 homes affected by Flood in town, and $3,900 of the funds raised go to those families. In addition, $300 is allocated for Derby, $700 for Ansonia, and $1000 for Seymour.

December 14

  • ANSONIA – A variety show held by the Youth Fellowship and Young Adult Group of the First Methodist Church. Free admission, but a collection is taken for the Clinton African Methodist Episcopal Church on Colburn Street. The Clinton AME church was badly damaged in the August flood. Right after it was repaired it was struck by the October flood, which badly damaged the foundation.
  • ANSONIA – A power shovel accidentally takes a “bite” out of Ansonia’s passenger station. The railroad assures Ansonia residents it will not be demolished, even though it was badly damaged in the floods and has since been vandalized. It is interesting to note that a replacement for this station was constructed in 1907, but torn down quickly after water infiltrated cellar.
  • ANSONIA – Robert DiMauro is honored for heroism in the August Flood by the American Legion. He evacuated 20 people along Main Street before being swept away in the raging waters He would have drowned if he not grabbed a cornice of a building and was pulled into an upper floor window by a resident with a blanket.
  • DERBY – Supervised skating starts tonight on David Humphreys Road at Charlie’s Pond.

December 15

  • ANSONIA – Two businesses closed since the August flood reopen for the first time today. They are Brown’s Food Center on 44 Bridge Street, and the Tasty Food Shop on 58 Bridge Street
  • SEYMOUR – Title searches are underway on all property the Broad Street island, as well as the east bank of the Naugatuck River from Broad Street Bridge to the railroad trestle, to take it for flood control projects.

December 16

  • DERBY – The Derby Historical Society holds its Annual Christmas Party in the parlors of the First Congregational Church.
  • ANSONIA – Clearance of silt from the Naugatuck River and dredging a new channel are well underway.
  • ANSONIA & SHELTON – The Cleary Millwork Company of 126 Canal Street, Ansonia, has bought the Meyer Iron and Brass Foundry Company on Howe Avenue Shelton, and will move there within a few weeks.

December 17

  • ANSONIA – Temporary dike construction along the west bank of the Naugatuck River is well underway just above Hershey Metal Company on North Division Street.
  • SEYMOUR – Santa Claus greets 1000 children at the corner of Bank Street and Main Streets, arriving via helicopter. He was then was escorted to the Strand Theater where he distributed gifts. St. Nick’s visit was sponsored by the Rotary and the Police Benefit Association.

Monday, December 19

  • ANSONIA – US Air Force 1st Lieutenant Michael L. Coppola, flying an F-86 Sabre fighter jet, collides with a B-29 while simulating an interception of the bomber airplane over Port St. Joe, which is about 200 miles north of Miami on Florida’s west coast. All 3 in the two aircraft, including Lt. Coppola, are killed. His parents, who reside on 34 South Street, are informed by telegram the following morning. He graduated from Ansonia High in 1948, and leaves behind a pregnant wife, 2 brothers, 4 sisters, his parents, and grandparents. With the exception of his wife, and a brother who is also in the military, all live in Ansonia.
  • ANSONIA – Board of Aldermen reject all but one of 27 proposed pay raises for public officials. Are considering filling marsh at Colony Park with flood silt dredged from river. Also, 400 members of Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church signed petition objecting to proposed commercial building across Clifton Avenue from the church.
  • SEYMOUR – Home that was damaged in the Flood on 25 Derby Avenue demolished and burned.

December 20

  • ANSONIA – Two outdoor basketball courts have been converted into ice skating rinks at Nolan Field.
  • ANSONIA – New 1956 Pontiac police car put in service this morning. Replaces one that was damaged in the Flood. Another will be ordered. Ansonia has two police cars in 1955.
  • DERBY – The Sentinel has a picture of the Lanzieri home on 32 Tenth Street, complete with holiday lights, and an outdoor nativity scene. Christmas carols also play outside the home. This home was also pictured in the paper last year, as it normally had one of the more notable displays in the 1950s.
  • DERBY – Returning from a Christmas party in New Haven, Derby firemen spot a bus that has been broken down for an hour on New Haven Avenue near Mt. St. Peters. It contained Branford High School’s basketball team, and they were huddled together in zero degree temperatures. They players were shuttled to Paugassett Hook & Ladder Company’s firehouse, where they warmed up, were given coffee, and waited for another bus.
  • SEYMOUR – Over 100 people attend a special Town Meeting, concerning Flood recovery measures. Among the items approved were allowing the Selectmen to give the Army Corps of Engineers liability waivers to begin constructing flood protection along the river; To accept the State plans to replace Broad Street Bridge with an elevated bridge, eliminating the natural island in the middle of it, and relocating Broad Street; Authorize the Board of Selectmen to exercise speedy eminent domain to seize properties that will aid in flood control; To maintain the temporary streets in the temporary housing areas as long as the state of emergency persists; To appoint a Flood and Erosion Control Board. 

December 21

  • SEYMOUR – New Britain High School students present Seymour High School with $1,000 they raised to replace equipment destroyed in the Floods.
  • ANSONIA – A $38,000 contract has been awarded to build a temporary Army Corps of Engineers Bailey Bridge in Ansonia, in the same spot where the first one was erected after the August Flood and destroyed in the October Flood. The plan is to make it a one-way span at first, but a second span will later be added at a later date next to the first, making it a two-way span. Right now the only two-way bridge remaining in Ansonia is the damaged Bridge Street Bridge. Traffic is a nightmare  at rush hour.
  • OXFORD – Temperature is 8 below zero in the early morning hours.

December 22

  • 4-5″ of snow falls on the first day of winter between 11 am and 6 pm, guaranteeing a white Christmas.
  • ANSONIA – The Army Corps of Engineers reverses its decision from the day before and authorizes a two-way Bailey Bridge.

December 23

  • ANSONIA – USAF 1st Lt. Michael L. Coppola is given a full military funeral at Holy Rosary Church.
  • ANSONIA – A total of 11,035 cars pass through the intersection of Main and Bridge Streets between 2 pm and 9 pm. Extra police are on duty.

December 24

  • Local churches are filled on Christmas Eve, particularly at midnight.
  • ANSONIA –  14,478 cars pass Main and Bridge Streets between 10 am and 5:30 pm. No mishaps at this corner, but a pedestrian suffers a broken pelvis after being struck at Main and Tremont.

Sunday, December 25 – Christmas Day

  • DERBY – Two Christmas babies born at Griffin Hospital – one to a Shelton family, the other to a Seymour family.

December 26

  • DERBY – Mrs. Edla Caldwell, wife of former Derby mayor Cornelius F. Caldwell of 356 Seymour Avenue, dies.
  • OXFORD – The Quaker Farms Fire Company receives a new fire engine, on the same day a weekend home owned by a Fairfield couple is destroyed by fire on nearby Swan Lake. Everything inside the home is destroyed.

December 27

  • SEYMOUR – A fire in a flood damaged structure marked for demolition on lower Main Street, that used to house Tommy’s Barber Shop, is quickly put out by the Seymour Fire Department.
  • SHELTON – A 4.5 acre tract known as the Massimo property on Riverdale Avenue is purchased by the B. F. Goodrich Company for parking.

December 28

  • The State Highway Commissioner is sending letters to all towns affected by the floods, asking to designate a representative to work with him over replacing destroyed and damaged highways and bridges. This of course, involves every town in the Lower Valley.
  • ANSONIA – The B. N. Beard Company of Shelton begins construction of the storm water drain system which will eliminate ancient tail race in Ansonia. The overwhelming of the debris-clogged tail race was responsible for some of the misery in Ansonia during the 1955 floods. 
  • DERBY – Derby Servicemen’s Fund mails 125 checks of $7 each to resident serving in the Armed Forces. Most of the other Valley towns had similar funds, some of which continue to the present day.

December 29

  • ANSONIA – In an apparent reversal, the President of the New Haven Railroad goes on record as saying that the Ansonia Passenger Station is “damaged beyond repair” from the floods.
  • SEYMOUR – Five members are selected for the new Flood and Erosion Control Board.

December 30

  • ANSONIA – 117 new home permits given were given in 1955. 54 of these were for single family units.
  • DERBY – In the first 6 months of Griffin Hospital’s free tuberculosis X-ray screening – 26 cases were discovered out of the 2,730 that were screened. This includes 10 from Ansonia, 7 from Derby, 3 each from Seymour and Shelton, and 2 from Oxford.
  • SHELTON – A 14 year old skater boy falls through ice of the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company reservoir on Shelton Avenue. He is rescued by a 14 year old Derby boy. BHC policy forbids skating there. No mention is made of the fact a child drowned there fifty years before (see December 8, 1905).

December 31

  • New Year’s Eve passes a bit less than quietly in some parts of the Valley.
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