In the first of three parts, this newsreel-style film (13:42) of the August 1955 flood begins with original footage of the 1936 Flood in Hartford where displaced people are being cared for in emergency shelters. The short retrospective concludes with crews working on massive infrastructure projects, redirecting of the Park River from Bushnell Park to bypass the Capitol, and constructing flood walls along the Connecticut River. Much of the infrastructure seemed to prove effective as the City of Hartford was largely inconvenienced but did not suffer damage on the scale of the surrounding communities along the tributaries.
The same was not the case for the surrounding communities some 19 years later when the fourth storm of the Atlantic Hurricane season brought Hurricane Diane moved inland drenched northwestern Connecticut on August 19, 1955. Not a freshet with damage not from ice floes as was the case in 1936, or compounded by high wind and raging ocean tides and coastal erosion like in 1938 by the New England Hurricane, but from flash floods in swiftly rising tributaries, in a short period of time some 70-80 lives were lost and an estimated $200 million damage was sustained across Connecticut.
This first film focuses on the northern area of the state such as neighborhoods in West Hartford which were inundated by the Trout Brook and the Rice Heights Housing Project, which was impacted in August and again in October 1955, flooding displacing an already-hard hit community. In New Britain, streets were turned to creeks and residents were rescued by police and firemen in small boats. Camp Courant on Park Road in West Hartford alongside Trout Brook was flooded to the roof of the pavilion. State Route 44, the Hartford-Albany Turnpike over Avon Mountain was washed out completely by the overtopped Farmington River making it look as though an earthquake had occurred.
Every branch of the military activated for rescue and recovery operations by providing helicopters for evacuations and for Governor Ribicoff who toured northeastern Connecticut in the Putnam-Danielson conducting damage assessments.