Profile America: Historic Deluge at Johnstown

Main Street after flood. (Wikipedia)

Main Street after flood. (Wikipedia)

Wednesday, May 31 — While tornadoes and heatwaves often take more lives, flooding is a constant threat to life in America. One of the worst floods in U.S. history happened on this date in 1889 at Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Like the dangerous situation in California this past winter, torrential rains caused a nearby artificial lake to spill over and weaken its earthen dam. When the dam broke, it unleashed 20 million tons of water in a giant wave that roared through Johnstown, killing more than 2,300 people, and destroying the homes of thousands more.

Nationally, an annual average of 82 deaths occurred in the years between 1986 and 2015. Currently, about 20,000 people make Johnstown their home.

You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, here.

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