Royal Kramer, Amateur Radio Call Sign W3ZIF, recalls the destruction that accompanied Hurricane Diane as it passed through the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Royal and several colleagues provided emergency communications support to the towns on each side of the Delaware River near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania after their telephone lines were washed away in the floods.
In addition to this firsthand recollection provided by a man who was there, you may be interested in reading the book DEVASTATION ON THE DELAWARE — Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955, written by Mary A. Shafer.
I’m quite sure that many of you older folks will remember this day 66 years ago. It was on August 18, 1955, a Thursday night, when Hurricane Diane devastated the Pocono Mountains following Hurricane Connie a few days prior with high winds and heavy rains followed by heavy rains and flooding from Hurricane Diane.
I was in Philadelphia that day and had a difficult time getting home by bus that night since many of the roads into the Lehigh Valley were flooded and impassible. Three days later, Sunday, August 21, I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to travel to Stroudsburg with several other ham radio operators to help maintain radio communication between Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg since all of the telephone and power lines were down and there was no communication of any kind between the two boroughs.
I volunteered my services and to make a long story short, we eight men spent the next 30 hours up there manning our radio equipment and maintaining communication. I never forgot that day and never will since we were doing a service to mankind that was not available from any other source but through ours.
Prior to our leaving after being relieved by a group of ham radio operators from the Reading, PA area, the Stroudsburg Fire Chief approached us with tears in his eyes and a look of fatigue, frustration, discouragement and great concern on his face, remarked, “Thank you gentlemen for all that you have done for us. I don’t know what we would have done without your help.”
I don’t know how the other men felt after hearing that statement but to me, those words meant more to me than if he would have handed me a million dollars. I knew he was serious and appreciative for all we have done but to me, for all of the destruction that we had seen, I felt that I did very little in making life easier for many of those dear residents who suffered so much with their loss not only of property and possessions but loved ones who never survived. Close to 100 lives were lost in that flood and destruction of property went into the millions of dollars.
Each year, whenever August 18 comes around, my mind goes back to Stroudsburg, PA and the Pocono Mountains in general are very vivid memories to me of that tragic time in our lives.
— Royal Kramer