Hurricane Agnes stormed through Pennsylvania 45 years ago

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The 1972 hurricane season will forever be remembered for a gal by the name of Agnes. She began stewing as a tropical depression in the Caribbean on June 14, 1972.

Slowly but surely her temper flared, picking up strength along the way. By the time she arrived in Harrisburg, Agnes was a full-blown hurricane.

The record heavy rainfall seemed to never end. More than 12 inches of rain fell in 24 hours, drenching the capital city and peaking at 19 inches in Schuylkill County. Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes as some places in Harrisburg were under 13 feet of water. Others were trapped in their homes for days and had to be rescued.

Then-governor Milton Shapp renamed Agnes “Hurricane Agony” as he fled a Governor’s Mansion with a completely submerged first floor.

More than 68,000 homes and 3,000 businesses were destroyed by Agnes. The storm was blamed for 128 deaths and nearly $3 billion in damage. The death toll and damage was highest in Pennsylvania with nearly 50 fatalities and $2 billion in losses.

It was the greatest flood to devastate the Mid-Atlantic and at the time the most expensive hurricane to hit the United States in recorded history. She was so destructive that there will never ever be another Hurricane Agnes. The name was retired in 1973.

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