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Dam safety officials to host event honoring 125th Anniversary of dam failure in Johnstown

Lexington, Ky. – On the afternoon of May 31, 1889, the South Fork Dam burst after record-breaking rainfall, sending 20 million tons of water hurtling downstream toward Johnstown, Pa. To this day, this event remains the most devastating dam failure in U.S. history and with more than 2,200 deaths, it resulted in one of the largest civilian death tolls on U.S. soil. Each year, the dam safety community commemorates this failure on National Dam Safety Awareness Day.

On May 31, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) will host an event remembering the South Fork Dam failure and highlighting the importance of dam safety in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. National Park Service and the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA).

Speakers include:

  • Tom Woosley, ASDSO president
  • Tom Moody, survivor of the 1963 Spaulding Pond Dam failure in Norwich, Conn.
  • David Miller, associate administrator, FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration
  • Doug Bellomo, director, FEMA’s Risk Analysis Division

A public event commemorating the 125th anniversary of the South Fork Dam failure will be held on Saturday, May 31, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Peoples Natural Gas Park in Johnstown.

Watch a live webcast of the event at https://events.commpartners.com/webcasts/opp20140531.

A ceremony will follow in Peoples Natural Gas Park at 4:07 p.m. to mark the moment the flood wave struck Johnstown. JAHA is hosting additional commemorative events throughout the weekend. Visit the organization’s website at www.jaha.org/125thCommemoration/about.html for more information.