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The Exxon Valdez disaster
May 31, 1889
On May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam broke and unleashed 20 million tons of water on the town of Johnstown, Pa. As the water moved through the Johnstown (population: 30,000) it picked up and carried debris, including houses, barns, animals and people. The flood killed more than 2,200 Johnstown natives, and caused around $17 million in damage.
It was, at the time, the worst flood in American history and the first disaster relief effort to be handled by the newly formed American Red Cross.
The longterm impact:
Reports of the dam disaster spread far and wide, and people from around the country sent money and supplies to residents in need. Sadly, this would not be the last Johnstown flood the town's residents experienced two additional floods in 1936 and 1977.
This Johnstown, Pa., cemetery is the burial site for hundreds of victims of the 1889 flood. (Photo: Newscom))
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