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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Remembering the Victims - 1977 Flood

On this special 40th anniversary - let's take the time to remember those whose didn't survive that dreadful day.
The monument in Central Park.
In all 80 men, women and children died and 8 victims are still missing to this day.
Old Conemaugh Borough
Julie A. Luther - Age 8
Mary Ann Luther - Age 36
Kimberly Keck - Age 23
Michael Vincent Keck - Age 3
Vincent Keck - Age 28
Michelle Keck - Age 2 - Still Missing
Walnut Grove
Helen Schofield - Age 61
James E. Schofield - Age 28
Donald Cover Jr. - Age 23
West End
Nancy Cooper - Age 30
Dale Borough
Marie C. Cobaugh - Age 70
Edith Faye Emmel - Age 41
Judy Emmel - Age 7
William H. Emmel - Age 43
Robert Leroy Hershberger - Age 89
Norman J. Pfeil - Age 63
Raymond Rhoads - Age 34 - Still Missing
James Edward Smith - Age 39
Todd James Smith - Age 7
Troy Jay Smith - Age 8
Shawn Michael Dixon - Age 11 - Still Missing
Florence Lydic - Still Missing
Robert Stephens - Age 40 (Stevens)
Allen Lee Blough - Age 29
Desire Blough - Age 2
Jennifer Blough - Age 28
Melvin Boring - Age 36
Elvie Bowser - Age 68
Jack F. Cale - Age 67
Eliza Ann Daroczy - Age 61
Cynthia Gibson - Age 8
Ernest Shawn Gibson - Age 12
Tammy Gibson - Age 30
Theresa Gibson - Age 46
Donald Merle Keiper - Age 54
Debra Ann Mavrich - Age 15
Mark Edward Mavrich - Age 13
Carol Ann Pavlosky - Age 34
Helen Pilot - Age 59
Stanley Pilot Sr. - Age 63 - Still Missing
George Piskurich - Age 64
Olga Piskurich - Age 60
Katherine Rishell - Age 55
Kathy Rishell - Age 5
Thomas Rishell - Age 34
Theodore G. Rummel - Age 64
Barbara Selders - Age 40
Robert Selders - Age 42
Donna Sowerbrower - Age 16
Mark Sowerbrower Jr. - Age 4 months - Still Missing
Charles A. Stoner Jr. - Age 59
Louella Elizabeth Stoner - Age 57
Sharen Stoner - Age 24
Sheldon W. Stoner - Age 23
Dorothy Teeter - Age 50
Allen Thomas - Age 40
Pamela Thomas - Age 10
Patricia Thomas - Age 36
Sandra Thomas - Age 12
Edith Fern Weaver - Age 55
Kenneth Weaver - Age 73
Shirley Bailey - Age 41 - Still Missing
Melissa Mitchell - Age 10 - Still Missing
Andrew Koharchik Jr. - Age 46
Marguerite Koharchik - Age 46
Marlin B. Mervine - Age 63
Julia Kameliski - Age 70
Chad Allen Gdula - Age 6
Kathleen Gdula - Age 23
James E. Smith - Age 61
Mineral Point
Harry M. Teeter - Age 74
Lula Teeter - Age 70
Robert Casciotti - Age 24
George Ribich - Age 50
Milka Ribich - Age 74
John J. Rokosz - Age 24
Howard Wilson - Age 24
George Zidzik - Age 50
Scalp Level
Helen Zidzik - Age 62
Susan Zidzik - Age 33
Greg Allen Dixon - Age 9
Myrtle Leslie - Age 77
Pauline Long - Age 53
Thelma Ressler - Age 52
Larry Edward Ressler - Age 36
The dams that surround Johnstown, stretching throughout the Conemaugh Valley, were unsuspecting accomplices in the Great Flood of 1977. They were duped by the instigator - the rain.
When they failed, six dams poured more than 128 million gallons of water into the Conemaugh Valley. In comparison approximately 4.8 billion gallons were unleashed on Johnstown when the South Fork Dam burst in 1889.
A phenomenal amount of rainfall - 11.82 inches in 10 hours - was too much for both the dams and the sewers in the Conemaugh Valley. The Corps of Engineers originally called the ’77 flood a 500 year flood, but it’s been downgraded slightly since then. The dams failed because of overtopping. The dams that burst were:
Laurel Run Dam on Laurel Run. The aged old earthen dam held 101 million gallons of water. It had a 42 foot high spillway. The dam was owned by the Johnstown Water Authority. When it failed the water enveloped Tanneryville and caused deaths and heavy property losses. The Laurel Run Dam was built by Cambria or Bethlehem Steel, then sold to the Water Authority when it was created.
Sandy Run Dam on Sandy Run. The dam held 18 million gallons of water. It was owned by the Highland Water and Sewer Authority. The 63 year old dam had a spillway of 28 feet
Salix Water Dam on Otto Run. It held 2 million gallons of water. Its spillway height was under 25 feet. It is owned by the Adams Township Water Authority.
Cambria Slope Mine 33 on Sanders Run. It held 7 million gallons of water. The dam leased by Bethlehem Mines Corp. had a spillway of 32 feet
Unnamed Dam on Peggy’s Run, Franklin Borough. This dam was leased by Bethlehem Mines Corp. and held an undetermined amount of water at the time of the flood because it was used as a catch basin.
An unnamed impoundment dam east of Johnstown at St. Michael held less than 1,000 gallons. It was a reserve dam for Bethlehem Mines Corp.
The dams were simply overwhelmed. After overtopping, water eroded the earthen embankments. There was total failure of five dams. The sixth, Cambria Slope Mine 33, retained about two-thirds of its contents.
The dams had not shown any defects in past inspections and no trouble was reported in them by the Pennsylvania Dept. Of Environmental Resources (DER). 
Without the work of the Army Corp. of Engineers and the Flood Control Project. A lot of you reading this post right now - would be dead.....end of story.


Anonymous said...

You are a treasure for the history of Johnstown! Many thanks for all of your historical efforts to be passed on as a legacy for all who have our roots in Johnstown

Anonymous said...

I am 54 and was 13 during the flood. I went to school with Mark Maverich. The Gibsons were my cousins. The grew up in the west end and our house didn't even get water in the basement, however, my dad and I went into Tanneryville the morning after the flood looking for new on our cousins. We were told the water took their house out the night before. I can't begin to tell you how much damage the water caused nor the fear we had when we realized large drums were hitting the bridge we crossed getting in as far as we did. Over the next several weeks we volunteered to clean up mud messes, mainly the Catholic church of St Columba. Nothing can brace you of the smell and mud everywhere. Years later and I still have very vivid memories of the flood, they never go away.