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The Delaware River is known for being a popular location for floods. This is mainly due to heavy seasonal snow, which melts, as well as heavy rainstorms that result in large amounts of run-off. In 1955, two hurricanes hit the area the same week. These hurricanes are known as Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane. The result of both of these hurricanes was a record flooding for the Delaware River. The Riegelsville, Pennsylvania river gauge even recorded a whopping crest of 38.85 feet for the Delaware River’s flood stage on August 19, 1955.
Due to the seriousness and damage of the flood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created a plan of a dam, 37 mile lake, and area around the lake that could be used for recreational purposes. In 1960, the Army Corps of Engineers acquired the land, which is now where the present day Delaware Water Gap is located.
Although the plan would ultimately benefit the community, it was met with a ton of controversy. Some of the controversy surrounded around the displaced people and demolishment. In order to carry out the original plan, the Army Corps of Engineers forced around 15,000 people to leave the area. Somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 buildings were demolished, including historically significant facilities.
A few years after the project began, the government decided to forgo the project. Factors, such as the strong opposition and lack of funding led the government to this decision. In 1978, the National Park Service decided to tackle the project, and ultimately reorganized plans and construction to create what is now known as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
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