These elevation maps of the town back up my proposal of this situation and also show a very in depth description of why the events took place from a geological standpoint.
Do not build a town in a valley surrounded by mountains. Build the down on the mountains where flooding is nearly impossible. Also maintain something as important as a dam. Find the money no matter how you need to fix the budget. Otherwise this will happen. Also get a better engineer and keep people that don’t know what they’re doing out of it. If your going to build a dam it needs to breath and maintain heavy rain flow if your situated in a valley. Geologically this is one of the worst places to live.
The Great Johnstown (PA) Flood of 1889, the result of a record-setting rainstorm speeding the failure of an earthen dam, was the top media story of its day. The catastrophe, in which over 2,200 were killed, dominated the front pages of newspapers around the world just as the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001 and in our generation. In fact, until 9/11, the Flood was the single largest loss of American civilian lives in one day (the greater number of deaths of the Galveston hurricane disaster of 1900 happened over several days).
Despite the fact that their hometowns were nearly scoured off the map, the survivors of the Great Johnstown (PA) Flood of 1889 almost immediately began rebuilding their homes and businesses. The world responded to stories of the Flood with an unprecedented out-pouring of charity.
The only thing that came out from the Johnstown flood of 1889 was that now “city hall records all high water mark from present day floods.”- Madrid Engineering Group Inc.
At 3:10 pm the dam completely failed as 3,600,000 gallons of water was released into the small town. By that time the water was no longer just water but debris from the 14 mile stretch from the path of the river. The debris was reported to be half a mile wide and as tall as 40 feet. No where in the town was a safe haven. Almost everything was destroyed.
The night of the flood on May 31, 1889 one o the heaviest storms recorded for the area occurred producing around 6 to 10 inches of rain within a 24 hour period through the Allegheny Mountains causing the rivers to be near their capacity. Around 11 am the water started breaking the dam showing clear signs of over stress to the face of the dam. Workers were said to frantically be trying to relief some of the water as best as they could. Alarms were sounded but were regarded with disbelief as the alarm was thought be just another “false alarm”.
This video shows a reenactment of the flood of 1889 in and around Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
This is the original design of the south fork dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The dam was constructed by materials around it such as clay, boulders, and dirt as well as imported materials such as cast iron pipes and valves. The dam was about 72 feet high and 931 feet long when it was constructed. The dam was constructed to hold back lake Conemaugh and support the town with a constant supply of water. By today’s standards it would have held up (if constructed and maintained right) up to 450 feet of water. However because of improper engineering the dam was only ever really able to hold up against light rain. When the dam was exposed to heavy rain it weakened its barrier until on June 10, 1862 the dam suffered a major break.