DuBOIS — Commemorating the worst flood in the history of DuBois, the Blessed Mother statue, which was relocated from Hamor Street to DuBois Street, was formally dedicated Thursday by members of the DuBois City Council.
Clearfield County Commissioners were also in attendance, in addition to a small group of past and present neighborhood residents. Msgr. Richard Siefer, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena and St. Michael the Archangel parishes, provided the blessing.
“On June 22, 1972, Hurricane Agnes caused the worst flooding in the history of DuBois,” Councilwoman Diane Bernardo said. “DuBois recorded 8 inches of rain and the Sandy Lick Creek rose to a flood height of almost 1,400 feet at the DuBois Sewage Plant as gauged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
Total storm damage reached more than $3 billion; $2 billion alone in Pennsylvania, Bernardo said.
“There were 122 deaths, 55 in Pennsylvania, but by the Grace of God, no lives were lost in DuBois,” Bernardo said.
The Rev. J. Daniel Dymski, now deceased, from St. Michael The Archangel Roman Catholic Church in DuBois, visited the neighborhood of proud first-generation immigrants of Italian, Lebanese, Polish and Syrian descent, to convince them that they were entitled to assistance, said Bernardo.
“The grateful neighborhood collected money to give to Father Dan in appreciation for his assistance,” Bernardo said. “In return Father Dan wanted the money used to erect a statue honoring The Blessed Mother for protecting the lives of those residents whose homes were destroyed by the flood.”
The statue of Mary was erected on a pedestal that marked the height of the water in DuBois on June 22, 1972. This memorial was first erected on Hamor Street. The original statue was vandalized and this statue of Mary is a reproduction, said Bernardo.
The Hurricane Agnes disaster validated the need for a Flood Control Project along Sandy Lick Creek. This project was completed in 1977, Bernardo said.
“We gather here today for this blessing of this image of The Blessed Virgin Mary,” said Siefer before sprinkling the statue with holy water. “This statue reminds us of the close ties of Mary to her son Jesus and our sign of gratitude to her.”
The information Bernardo read at the dedication is also engraved on the statue.
On a personal note, she talked about her recollection of the 1972 flooding.
“I remember going upstairs on the second floor of my mother and father’s home, and watching the railroad cars that were being inundated with the flood waters,” Bernardo said. “It wasn’t a slow flood. It was a fast flood. I’m watching it come closer and closer to our home. It stopped right there at the railroad tracks. As far as the eye could see all you saw was water, and everything was underwater. I also remember having hope, personally, because I looked on DuBois Street and there was somebody in a darn canoe.”