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Pat Shingleton: 'The Second Johnstown Flood"

1 year 2 months 17 hours ago Friday, July 21 2017 Jul 21, 2017 July 21, 2017 4:15 AM July 21, 2017 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton:

Following the Johnstown Pennsylvania Flood of 1889, a flood control system was constructed in the Little Conemaugh Valley. The dams and slews were designed to withstand a 100 year flood.  In 1977, city officials and flood experts declared that Johnstown was virtually flood-proof.  On the evening of July 19, 1977, showers began and a stalled low pressure system drenched the area for eight hours.  In West Taylor Township, northwest of Johnstown, a foot of rain fell and the Laurel Dam burst.  The deluge was once again heading for Johnstown with a wall of water that was leaving destruction in its wake.  The second Johnstown Flood in 88 years caused $325 million in damage in seven counties, killing 77. On a hillside above the city white crosses mark the graves of 777 unidentified dead from the flood of 1889, corresponding exactly to the month and year of the second-worst flood in Johnstown’s history. Finally, we've experienced a couple of weekend "wash-outs." The rainouts cause “cabin-fever,” further compromising our outdoor activities. Many years ago my brothers and I would settle in to enjoy episodes of the “Three Stooges” on rainy summer afternoons.  However the respite was short-lived, especially when the soggy weather pattern advanced to the next day.  The early morning began with the traditional hearty breakfast and with baseball games cancelled, Mom directed us to seasonal chores that included cleaning the basement, attic and garage.  A large compliment of tools and lawn equipment were moved as the garage floor was swept. The basement was swept down, hosed down and straightened. Those were the chores then and except for the basement, it could be a chore for some this weekend. 

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