[elmira-ny.com] - Keeping memories alive...photo courtesy of Tom Drum...

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  - Albert J. Pollen -

When the flood of 72 hit our wonderful Southern Tier I was in Casselberry Florida working as a police officer. I of couse tryed and tryed to get a phone call home to either of my brothers or to my mother and father. I even tryed military lines getting as close as the Senica Depot. How was I to know that even Elmirians would not call anywhere with the telephone company completely under water. As my fustration grew another memory also formed in my mind.

The memories of the dances that we held every weekend throughout the summers to raise funding for our radios and communications equipment under the Chemung County Civil Defense Communications program. We were but just a handful of individuals that pulled together to raise the money required and to design and determine the equipment needed. We selected to establish our countywide center in the county buildings not far from the Westinghouse Circle off Chemung St. in Horseheads.

Our objective was to co-ordinate all different types of communications into one "filter Center" so if need be, all county communications from police, fire, public works, ham radio operators and even CBers could be utilized as a co-ordinated force to function as one with a common goal.

The radios were selected with care and as the funds came in from these dances and then they were purchsed. Antennas were bought and irrected and coax cable was fished from the roof and nearby tower to the center . Each seperate radio location was figured and marked on the center plans so setup with the proper antenna connections and power source could be quickly accomplished.

The final touch was our emergency power generator and our major work was done aside from periodic testing and the waiting. Just maybe one day, this equipment could be put to use in an unforseen fight to save not only property but possibly actual lives.

I was proud of our work and this came to me while in Orlando as I struggled to get a telephone call through. Did we make a difference? Were we right? Did we have foresight and were our plans good enough to stand up under such a demand that they must be called upon at this time?

I have sense been told that our center did help in the evacuation process and other functions during and following the flood. I have never seen a write up on how our center really functioned but that is typical. Very few locals understood why we held those weekly dances throughout the summers of the late 50s and early 60s.

Well, now you know maybe just a little bit or sliver more about some of the activities that were brought to bear during that fateful time. I am sure there are many many others and Maybe now we can start to dig a bit deeper here and understand more what a wonderful place Elmira is and why we all love it so.