The Flood of 1972 was one of the greatest natural disasters in Genesee Valley History that took place in June 1972. Hurricane Agnes came ashore on the panhandle of Florida on June 19, and moved north through Georgia and the Carolinas. She went back out to sea, recharged her energy and hit Southeastern New York State on June 22.
The worst urban damage caused by Hurricane Agnes in New York was in Elmira; the worst flooding occured along the Genesee, Chemung, and Canisteo Rivers. Dick Baumbach, a reporter for The Elmira Star Gazette, covered the hurricane and almost lost his life while he was attempting to take a photograph of the very rapidly rising flood waters in Wellsburg. He went on to be awarded the Associated Press Meritorious Service Award for his coverage of the hurricane.
Although Agnes was only a category 1 hurricane, she soon stalled over north-central Pennsylvania. Caught up in a slow moving low pressure system, the storm drifted slowly northeastward into New York State. The area, having already been soaked by showers the week before, could not absorb the six to twelve inch (305 mm) rainfall that fell over Pennsylvania and New York. Known locally as "The Flood of '72", the event would have a tremendous impact on Western New York and Letchworth Park.
Although the Genesee River and Letchworth Park were not hit as hard as the Susquehanna Valley and other areas, the impact of the Flood would be felt in the Park for many years. The Lower Falls Bridge and trail to Sugar Loaf did not officially reopen for several years. To this day visitors can still see some of the natural "scars" left by the flood waters nearly forty years ago.