Monday, April 30, 2012

Compiling a flood of memories

Compiling a flood of memories

The Times Leader
January 9, 2011

The Times Leader - January 9, 2011

By Jerry Lynott
Times Leader Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE - So much has been written and reported about the devastating flood of Tropical Storm Agnes, yet so little has been done to put it all together as Alan K. Stout would like to do.

    It's his goal to use the books, newspaper clippings, newsreel footage, radio reports and recollections of the many people in the Wyoming Valley who remember June 23, 1972 to make the definitive documentary of what at the time was the nation's worst natural disaster. He plans to premier the work of the team he's assembled on the flood's 40th anniversary at the F.M. Kirby Center.

    "It's time to do this," he said last week.

    Personal experience drives him, as well as the desire to create something for future generations that tells the story based on the numerous, but scattered sources.

"I realized that there was great stuff all over the place," he said, adding it was never combined into a comprehensive package.

He was 4 years old and living with his mother on Carlisle Street in South Wilkes-Barre when they fled to higher ground at a nearby relative's house. His children are too young to understand the significance of the event and the documentary will ensure that they do.

    Anthony Mussari, Ph.D., was teaching at King's College and recalled sandbagging on River Street to try to contain the Susquehanna River. A maker of documentaries himself, Mussari signed on to be a consultant and narrator for the project.

    "I think it's very important it be done so that it be available for generations that are not even born right now," he said.

    Stout, who is Newspaper in Education manager at The Times Leader, presented his idea for the documentary in an op-ed piece published in the paper in June.

    He's taken on the role of executive producer and has begun collecting material for what he envisions is a 60- to 90-minute documentary. A trailer featuring some of the original national network news broadcasts is on the project's website,

    The project has a budget of $77,140, which he's trying to raise from public and private sources.

    One of the more than 50 documentaries made by Richard Briggs was about the flood and he's thrilled to address the subject again as producer/director of the project.

    He's embraced Stout's idea of drawing on multiple sources.

    "I have an approach," said Briggs. "It is to gather as much as I can."

    Rounding out the team are historical consultant Tony Brooks, executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society, and funding consultant Frank J. Pasquini, director of capital resources for the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry.


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