Waterbury: Nine Feet Under

I lived in Thomaston and was an electrical engineer at American Brass Co. in Waterbury. We had 9 feet of water over the first floor of most of our buildings.

Electrical equipment had to be dried out and de-silted. In some of the buildings, the electrical controls were located in a basement, which added to the cleanup problem. Motors were sent to off-site locations to be baked out. It took a long time to get back into production. I got to take my vacation at Thanksgiving time.

American Brass had plants in Torrington and Ansonia as well as Waterbury, so they were hit especially hard by the Naugatuck River flooding.

I had quite a trip to get from home to the plant on the morning after the flood. I crossed the river from west to east on the only bridge still usable and climbed back roads to the higher ground in the Plymouth area. Then I wound my way to a road that was passable and let me descend to the part of the plant where I worked, which was east of the river. (Incidentally, the roads on the higher ground had not been flooded, but washouts due to the 14 inches of rain made it tricky going.)

Replacement of some of the equipment was not possible because stocks of parts were soon exhausted because they were in such demand with so many companies in the same situation. So the clean-up method was dictated.

We, through our electrical contractor, hired a group of "gypsy" electricians who followed disasters around the country. They were mostly from the south and wanted to work 12 to 14 hours, 7 days a week, for the money.