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July 22, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1977-07-22

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Friday, uly 22, 1977


Page Five

Fridy..Juy2I197 TE..CHGAfDILYPae iv

Johnstown death toll hits 45

death toll from Johnstown's
third major flood in less than
90 years reached at least 45
yesterday as repair and clean-
up crews made their way
through thick mud and debris
into flood-scarred valleys.
In addition to the dead, an
estimated 50,000 were displaced
from their homes after rain-
choked streams became ram-
paging torrents Wednesday
along a 70-mile stretch of the
Conemaugh River Valley. "
bodies. We're sure of it," said ,
Arthur Keiper, chief deputy cor-
oner of Cambria County.
President Carter declared sev-
en flood-damaged western Penn-
sylvania counties a major dis-
aster area, making them eligi-
ble for federal aid.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, (D-
Pa.), who met with Gov. Mil-
ton Shapp and federal officials
yesterday, estimated the dam-A [
age at $10 million.
JOHNSTOWN, a shattered city
of 41,000, looked like a war
zone. The town became a syno-
nym for disaster after 2,200 peo-
ple died in an 1889 flood. An-
other flood in 1936 killed 20 peo- LAUREL RUN DAM, just sou
ple. area.
Many residents who were
evacuated during the latest
flooding went home yesterday we have to do yet," Penelec
to surveywthe damage and then repair crew chief Sam Harring-
return to emergency housing. ton said as he led a convoy of
They waded through slimy pud- trucks into Johnstown. "On one
dies past heaps of broken furni- side of the river we have ten
ture, hundreds of up-ended cars days work and we haven't even
and other debris tossed around gotten to the other side yet."
by the water, which reached At Lee Hospital in downtown
eight feet deep in some sections Johnstown, power was restored
of town. after three emergency genera-
Helicopters clattered through tors were airlifted in. Admini-
the skies, bringing in supplies strator Richard Seifert said 97
of water, fuel and medicine, and of the 277 patients had been
ttan gem swii"::::ir"i'.}J .... .,.:e "f"rWe!?!. .
'We haven't even seen what we have to-
do yet. On one side of the river we have 10
days work, and we haven't even gotten to the
other side yet.'
-Chief Repairman Sam Harrington

th of Johnstown, Pa., burst Wednesday and unleashed the fury of raging water throughout the

lem was getting information
from the disaster area. 'There
is a great lack of communica-
tion and the problem is one of
disorder and confusion."
The Central Telephone Co. said
its central office in Johnstown
was functional, but downed lines
made connections to thousands
of telephones impossible.
cent of normal long-distance
facilities operational, but with
the hysterical type of calling
that goes on with something
like this, our available circuits
have just been overloaded,"
said Larry Bricker, General
Telephone's service director.
Nine mobile phone units and

a 400-line mobile central office
were moved into the hard-hit
Windber area, but Bricker said
emergency and police calls
would be given priority.
"State police are even having
difficulties with their radios,"
Comey said. "There is so much
traffic on the air because no-
body can use the phones."
The Federal Disaster Assist-
ance Administration in Wash-
ington said this was the tenth
presidentially declared major
disaster for Pennsylvania in the
past 20 years. During that time,
the agency said, more than
$405.7 million has been spent or
committed for the state from
the President's Disaster Relief

removing flood victims on their evacuated.
way out. OTHERS HAD BEEN moved
from the flood-damaged first
THREE BATTALIONS of Na- floor to higher levels.
tional Guard troops patrolled The Red Cross brought in sup-
the city in canvas-covered plies, -equipment and volunteers
trucks, four-wheel drive vehicles from as far away as Washing-
and boats, while about 350 state ton and Maryland.
policemen were stationed around Red Cross workers began a
Cambria County. door-to-door sweep bf Johnstown
"Our primary purpose is to yesterday to assess victims'
protect property and check for needs. The egency estimated
injured people or anybody miss- about 10,000 families, represent-
ing," said a state police spokes- ing 50,000 people, have been dis-
person at nearby Ebensburg. placed in Cabria County, which
Murtha said security was tight had a 1970 population of about
and reports of widespreid loot- 187,000.
ing were exaggerated. LACK OF DRINKING water
added to the woes of residents
IN THE NEARBY riverbank who remained in Johnstown as
town of Seward, state troopers the temperature went into the
poked billy clubs into waist-high 80s.
mud the consistency of pudding "My little girl is crying for
in the search for bodies. water," said John Horner as he
Trooper John Galbraith said trudged through the mud. "Ev-.
25 people were still unaccounted erybody said not to give her
for in Seward, where gushing the flood water, but I did any-
water washed away as many as way. She had to have something
50 mobile homes. to drink."
Twenty-'five of the 1,193 real- John Comey, spokesman for
dents of West Taylor Township tbe state Council for Civil De-
were also reported missing aft--, fense,. said emergency water
er an earthen dam burst and equipment, pumps and pipe
washed away at least ten homes were brought in.
downstream. IN TWO DAYS, it's ironic
that you go from the most seri-
POWER REMAINED blacked ous pressing problem - an ex-
out in large areas, although cess of water - to a very criti-
teams rushed in by the Pennsyl- cal shortage of usable water
vania Electric Co. from other either through contamination or
parts of the state were slowly because (the water works have
restoring felled electric lines. .been knocked out."
"We haven't even seen what Comey 'said the major prob-

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