- Janis Wood-Peckham -

I was 17, and went to EFA. For three days and nights the rain was pouring non-stop and hard. The morning of June 23 was our first day of summer vacation. Early that morning my friend came to my house to get me to come downtown because there was "a flood." We walked from W. Thurston Street to St. Patrick's church. We were able to get to Cappy's and could go no further. Downtown was a lake. Cappy's was flooded and we stood on the "shore" looking towards the Main Street bridge.
I can remember barrels floating in the water and crashing into the sides of the buildings. We could see the edge of the flood inching closer to our feet as we stood on the shore.
It was about 11 am and the sky was still gray overcast, as it had been during the rains of the days before. Others were gathered too. Nobody seemed to have much to say, just looked.
The floodwaters finally made it to about the first step of St. Patrick's and then went no further. When the flood receded in a day or so we went back to look around. That was more shocking then the flood itself. Boots were a must because everything had mud. Mud and mudlines on the side of the buildings. The only color was gray, even the sky was still gray, and the landscape a gray mud color.
Folks were corralled to "the Towers", the dorm at Elmira College, to live. We went there to look for friends and found some. My friend, who was 18 and from the southside, was there and separated from her family. She was also 9 months pregnant.
About that time the helicopters started to come. The National guard was there to help.
I could not fathom how things would ever get to be cleaned up. People's floors in their houses were buckled . My grandmother was a patient at St. Josephs and had to be evacuated to the nurses' dorm at Arnot and be sick there.
I got my first job that summer. Digging mud.