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Newspaper Floods

Started by Mechanic, February 03, 2009, 06:25:41 AM

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The Daily Advertiser in Wagga Wagga, where I served my apprenticeship in the early 1950s, was twice surrounded by floodwaters while I was in their employment. In inland Australia floodwaters move reasonably slow, so, fortunately, we had time to build brick walls around doors and vents etc. to keep the water out.  Delivery trucks had to drive through water and employees had to wade a short distance, but we were still able to produce a newspaper. Wagga was again flooded in the late fifties. The building of levee banks in the early sixties ended the flooding of the town.

I was reminded of this when I ran across the story of the flooding of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., USA. In 1972. Floodwaters inundated the building and, unfortunately, a telephone operator who had stayed behind to handle emergency telephone calls, lost her life while being taken from the building in a rowboat.

The newspaper had installed a new 10-unit Hoe Colormatic letterpress machine just three years prior to the flood. The press had to be completely stripped, mud and water removed and dried out. The cost of refurbishing the press was in excess of the original purchase price of the machine. Two weeks after the flood the press was back in operation. In March 1997, The Patriot-News won first place in the letterpress division of the Print Quality Contest at America-East in Hershey, Pa.

Anyone interested in reading the complete story can do so at

The web site also covers their conversion to offset and prepress automation.
George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

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