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May 31Trivia powered by Prof. Walter

Johnstown Flood Disaster
May 31, 1889

On May 31, 1889, America suffered one of the greatest disasters in its history. A flood known as the Johnstown Flood or the Great Flood of 1889 destroyed the city of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Several days before the disaster, a big storm over Nebraska and Kansas began to move east. When it got to Pennsylvania, 6 to 10 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. This bad storm meant bad news for the people of Johnstown.

Floods were nothing new for the citizens of Johnstown. An immigrant from Switzerland named Joseph Johns settled Johnstown where the Conemaugh River forms from the Stonycreek River and the Little Conemaugh River. Johnstown is located in a river valley, which is low and floods easily. However, the people of Johnstown had never seen a flood like this one.

When the South Fork Dam ripped open upstream, a massive wave tore through Johnstown. The water destroyed everything in its path. It caused approximately $17 million in damage and killed more than 2,200 people. Houses, factories, and bridges were left in pieces. The water tore down telegraph lines and destroyed railroad service

Many people helped Johnstown after the flood. It was among the first major disasters handled by Clara Barton and the American Red Cross. (The American Red Cross helps people during disasters.) People came together from all around the world to help. Countries like Russia, Turkey, Great Britain, Australia, and Germany collected money to help rebuild Johnstown. Can you remember other disasters in which people helped each other as they did in Johnstown?

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