JERSEY SHORE - Because weather equipment was not as advanced at the time of Hurricane Agnes, predicting flooding took longer. When it became apparent that Jersey Shore was going to receive flooding, people did not react quickly enough to prepare, according to borough resident Burt Francis.
The day before the flooding started, he saw a lot of rain fall, which is a key factor in predicting a flood. Mixed reports were coming in.
"The National Weather Service was saying it's not raining," he said.
Yet despite their claims, he could see the stream rising from his house and knew he and his wife had to leave.
"It was kind of a panic-type atmosphere," he said. "That was the beginning of the '72 flood."
There was 13 inches of rain in the basin that drains into the Susquehanna River from all the streams that surrounded it.
"Devastating," he said.
When the waters receded, he saw that his parents' home had been destroyed. One of the most difficult things he ever had to do was tell his parents their house was gone. He later rebuilt the house on higher ground.
The flood affected 823 buildings in town.
Unlike Williamsport, Jersey Shore did not have a dike system to protect it. Ever since seeing his parents' home destroyed, he worked to get one by speaking at public events and working with borough council, congressmen and senators.
"We tried to get flood protection," he said. "We're a small town between two county seats. We fought a battle since then. We never got anything."
Francis may be considered the borough's flood expert. He has a list of every house in the flood plain in Jersey Shore and the river height needed to flood the property. At 8 to 12 feet, some of the downtown properties begin to flood, he said.
People come to him to find out how much water their houses received in past floods and what they should do if the water gets that high. He tells them when to move their possessions and how.
"You're surprised how much you can move in six hours," Francis said. "You gotta have a plan."
A carpenter by trade, he picked up the knowledge after the 1972 flood to find a better way to protect people so they never have to go through what his parents did.
"Flooding events are one of the most tragic things," Francis said. "Water is so amazing, what it can destroy."