- anonymous -

I was 10 years old at the time of the flood. I remember leaving our apartment on Chemung Place to go to my step-grandmother's apartment because my mother and step-father thought we would be safe there. At that time, my step-grandmother lived on Aspen Ridge.
I remember staying awake late that night because we had the radio on listening to them giving the names of streets and areas that were to be evacuated. I waited until I heard them announce that Chemung Place was to be evacuated before I finally fell asleep.
The next day when I woke up I discovered that I was alone. I got out of bed and looked around, and down the hallway. I finally went downstairs and found my mother, step-father, and step-grandmother. They were all downstairs on the porch, waiting to see if the water would reach our area. I stood down on the sidewalk on South Main Street, looking at all the other people walking and watching, waiting for the water to reach them. At that time, it still hadn't quite gotten over the wall yet, but was expected to flood over the wall at any time. I remember thinking that it wasn't going to happen, especially after waiting for what seemed like hours. I started to feel sleepy again, since I'd stayed awake late the night before, so I went back upstairs to lay down.
Hours later I awoke, once again alone, but this time I kind of knew where everyone had gone so I just headed my way downstairs. I got surprised when I went out on the porch this time though. I no longer was able to walk down off the steps to go down onto the side walk. The flood waters were at the steps now. My mother, grandmother and step-father all went back upstairs. I stayed downstairs on the porch. I realized that I was afraid to be downstairs alone, but I was also afraid to go back upstairs too, afraid that if they didn't see someone on the porch, they wouldn't come looking for us. I was hearing helicopters and boats near us.
Finally a boat came for us. As we were leaving, we heard the boat hit something underneath us in the muddy water. Someone said it was the top of one of those large eighteen wheelers. I don't know exactly what it was. We got dropped off at the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and Franklin Streets, at what used to be a funeral home, but now is a copy center I believe.
My aunt and uncle met us there and took us to stay at their home until we were allowed to go back to our home. They lived on Baty Street at the time. I remember walking from their home down to our home after the waterrecededd several times. We had to walk in the road, and the mud was unbelievable. It was like a large snow fall would be in the winter time if it were winter instead of summer and just after a flood.
I can still remember walking down South Main Street and seeing mud everywhere, street lights bent in half and laying on the sidewalks. It was like a nightmare that I hoped I would wake up from soon.
To this day, I have a panic attack if a toilet looks like it's going to, or does overflow. I automatically flashback to the flood waters and mud. When my kids were younger, back in the '90's, when Eldridge lake went over, I took them over both while the lake was over it's banks and after it had started receeding, and I became short of breath, and I felt panicy, scared, shaky and light headed. As we walked around Eldridge Park, even with most of the water back in the lake, some still over the bank, but now a lot, it felt like I was back during the Flood of '72 again. My mind could envision the pictures I'd seen of the different buildings underwater and only the tops of some of them showing. I described it to my children as we walked through the park. But somehow, I don't think they'll ever completely be able to understand the effects the flood can have on a person. I pray they never will.