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Public television plans to commemorate Agnes flooding

This June marks the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Agnes’s devastation of Northeastern Pennsylvania. WVIA will commemorate the day with Agnes 50, a multiplatform initiative that will explore the events of June 23, 1972, as well as the response in the years after.

According to a news release, the initiative will include the original documentary film Agnes 50: Life After the Flood, focusing on different communities that were affected by the flood. Excerpts from the documentary will air on WVIA’s social channels in the weeks leading up to the broadcast premiere on Thursday, June 23rd at 9 p.m.

On June 23, WVIA TV will present an evening of programming that will include a live hour-long episode of Keystone Edition with area experts discussing the impact of Hurricane Agnes on our region at 7 p.m., followed by a special broadcast of the 1997 historical documentary Remembering Agnes at 8 p.m. The WVIA original film, Agnes 50: Life After the Flood, premieres at 9 p.m., followed by the WSKG original production Agnes: The Flood of ’72.

In addition, Memories of Agnes, a digital series, will launch in spring 2022. This series will provide those who lived through the Agnes disaster the opportunity to share their first-hand accounts of the flood through user-generated content and archival film and photos.

WVIA News will feature a companion series of stories on WVIA Radio and at wvia.org/news throughout the coming months that will cover additional aspects of our region’s history with flooding, the news release said.

About Agnes 50: Life After the Flood

What have we learned in the years since Agnes? What actions have communities taken since that date? To properly explore the fallout from Agnes over the past five decades and to assess steps our region is taking or should be taking in order to prepare for the challenges of inevitable flooding in the future, WVIA will premiere a feature documentary directed by award-winning filmmaker Alexander Monelli that will cover key communities along the Susquehanna River, including Berwick, Bloomsburg, Danville, Forty Fort, Milton, West Pittston, Selinsgrove, Tunkhannock, Towanda and Wilkes-Barre.

Various officials, residents and community leaders will share memories of Agnes, describe how their towns were affected, and discuss the work that has been done over the years to mitigate the adverse effects of future flooding. Interviewees include David DeCosmo, former WYOU news broadcaster; Andrew Stuhl, professor at Bucknell University; Lara Fowler, professor at Penn State University; Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney; Jim Charles, Selinsgrove Flood Task Force; and Chris Belleman, executive director, Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, among others.

“This documentary is really about the people of the Susquehanna watershed and how we’re all connected,” said the film’s director Alexander Monelli, according to the news release. “When I started this film, I never knew there were so many issues related to flooding, and they’ve been ongoing since 1972. What one town does to mitigate flooding may impact another town downstream. It raises questions about our responsibility to our own community, our neighbors downstream, and nature as a whole. I’ve met so many fascinating people while filming, and I can’t wait to share this documentary with everyone.”

June 23 television

programming

7 p.m. – Keystone Edition Reports: Agnes 50 – Live Broadcast

Fifty years ago, life in the Susquehanna Valley changed forever as Hurricane Agnes devastated the area, and the Susquehanna River inundated homes and streets, destroying everything it touched. Keystone Edition Reports takes a look back at the toll Agnes took, how the valley bounced back, and what the future holds.

8 p.m. – Remembering Agnes – Remastered

A special presentation of the remastered 1997 historic documentary. Eyewitnesses reminisce about the hours just before, during, and after the worst natural disaster to devastate the east branch of the Susquehanna River Valley in the greater Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metropolitan area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Hurricane Agnes and the resulting flood occurred in late June 1972 and affected thousands ever since.

9 p.m. – Agnes 50: Life After the Flood – Broadcast Premiere

On Friday, June 23, 1972, Pennsylvania suffered the wrath of Hurricane Agnes, which at the time was the costliest hurricane to hit the United States and would claim the lives of 128 people in the storm’s path. Now, at the 50th anniversary, WVIA explores what we as a region have learned from the Agnes tragedy. Half a century later, how did this epic event permanently change our communities – economically, physically, and emotionally? What have local communities done over the past decades to address and mitigate potential flooding in the future? Have we done enough?

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