Report appearing in Southbridge Evening News
August 31, 1955

25 Million Floats Down River

Southbridge

Then

Isolated from rest of country.

Without electricity, water and telephone facilities.
2000 homeless.

55 homes destroyed.

150 other homes damaged.

American Optical Co., Southbridge Finishing Co. and buildings of former Ames Worsted Corp. badly damaged.

Feared health menace from contamination.

Thousands jobless.

Damage estimated at $10,000,000 by Chamber of Commerce.
 

Southbridge

Now (Aug 31, 1955)
 

Flats section still isolated; 60 sick persons evacuated.

Army moves repair equipment into area.

Electricity, water and telephone facilities restored.

Temporary quarters found for many of the homeless.

Anti-typhoid shots given and fear of disease lessons.

Estimate of jobless reaches 8000.

American Optical Co. sets damage figure at two million;

Unknown when operation of plant will start again.

9 p. m. curfew.

Damage estimates reach $25 million.

Universal Blanket, United Lens, Hyde Mfg. Co., and Russell Harrington Cutlery Co., ready to operate.
 

FOR THE RECORD:
 

630 Families, involving 3,000 people in Southbridge were left homeless by the flood
 

55 Homes were totally demolished.
 

150 Homes were partially wrecked, five condemned.
 

500 persons living in second and third floors with neighbors.
 

2,000 persons unaccounted for four days later. All found safe.
 

Estimated loss in town: $25,000,000
 

Number of persons dead: NONE.


 


Two companies of National guardsmen moved into Southbridge to take over the duties of regular and reserve police who have been on the job since 3 a.m. Friday.

Superintendent Victor Costa of Harrington Memorial Hospital, Southbridge, said that 5000 shots of typhoid vaccine brought in by State Police have been administered to townsfolk under direction of Dr Raymond Halsing, town health officer.
 
 

Flat Section Hardest Hit:

The Red Cross was sheltering about 700 families in the town and about 500 more homeless had found shelter elsewhere. Some 30 multiple dwelling homes were washed away or moved from their foundation. Officials estimated that 92 families were housed in this district alone.

The huge American Optical company employing about 4000 was virtually shut down. Two maintenance departments were reporting to work to do the mopping up operation and others were laid off until they are notified. Three of its large buildings were washed away.

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