Flood of 72 stories do you know? A map of the area
surrounding Southside High School as well as a picture of
SHS during the flood appear below. The green area
designates where Elmira was under water. Click on the map
to see a larger, clearer version of it.
And where were you in the Flood of '72?
For Elmirans, particularly along the Chemung River and on
Elmira's Southside, it was a flood within a flood.
courtesy of Chemung Historical Society
SHS looking NE across Main
Elmira was a city divided, with all
bridges unusable at the peak of the disaster.
Communications were knocked out downtown and power was
The flood crest held during most of the day of June 23.
By 8PM it had dropped 2 feet in West Elmira. But the
worst news was yet to come.
As the water receded, it was obvious that Elmira had been
damaged as never before. The Southside was deeply
scarred. Roaring down out of the Roricks Glen narrows,
the river had slammed into the unprotected "flood
trap" of Homewood, Bonaview and Morrowfield Avenues
west of the city line and at 4:10 am had gone over the
West Hudson Street earthen dike. Its mainstream had
coursed east in a path of destruction between W. Hudson
and Partidge Streets past the rear of Parley Coburn
School, across South Main Street and pounded the
Erie-Lackawanna Railroad elevated track embankment.
Four Erie-Lackawanna underpasses became the mill-races of
the flood - Henry Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Hudson
Street and Chemung Place. As it spewed through the
underpasses the flood ravaged homes and yards. Porches
and garages were ripped loose, shrubbery flattened,
siding torn away by the riptide.
On Pennsylvania Avenue, the waters extended a few houses
past Franklin Street. The Main St. bridge was damaged,
but opened later to emergency traffic. On South Main
Street, the water went beyond Southside High School into
the Miller Street underpass and almost reached O'Gorman
Street. Maple Avenue was under water to Notre Dame High
School. American LaFrance's plant on Erie Street had 7
feet of water on the ground floor.
Some say Elmira never recovered from the flood. But SHS
did. Since that time, the high school moved into a new
building south on Main Street near the old Remington Rand
plant, but the old building still remains. It has been
restored and has a new occupant. And you can still see it
much as it was when we were students there. Be sure and
drive by, maybe even go inside and look around next time
you're in the vicinity.