Hlsc 720-discussion 5-reply 1 | HLSC 720 – Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerability Analysis and Protection | Liberty University

The thread must be a minimum of 500-750 words. MINIMUM OF TWO SOURCES BESIDES THE TEXTBOOK. Must cite at least 2 sources in addition to the Bible.

TEXTBOOK: Bennett, B. T. (2018). Understanding, assessing, and responding to terrorism: Protecting critical infrastructure and personnel (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN: 9781119237785.


The Johnstown Flood of 1889

            This post will be about the Johnstown flood of 1889, which was the result of the Southfork Dam. My dad’s side of the family is from this general area, while I have not found any ancestors who were victims of this flood, it has brought many discussions. Also, in the mid 1900’s the South Fork Hunting Club become apartment housing and my grandma and great grandma lived there for a while. This is not the only flood that hit the Johnstown area but it has certainly been the most controversial and possibly preventable if better care and control of the South Fork Dam had been taken. According to the Johnstown History Museum, “The South Fork dam held back Lake Conemaugh, the pleasure lake of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, a prestigious club which included such famed entrepreneurs as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick on its membership rolls” (Johnstown History Museum, 2019). The dam was controlled by those elite that were part of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, which many blamed for the lack of proper care on the dam itself. According to records, 2209 people died, which included 99 entire families. It also caused 1,600 homes to be destroyed and cost $17 million in property damages. One of the biggest problems that stood out was that there were people who identified that the dam could break and they were in the process of fixing the dam. However, there was no alert system or notification to the people in the potentially effected area that there was a danger possible. There should have been a message sent out to the towns below to warn them that they should evacuate until the dam was secured. However, according to a New York Times article at the time there was a message sent to the town below. It states, “The water began flowing over the dam or abutment at the weakest part of the mountain lake at about 1 o’clock, when Johnstown and people down the valley were warned by messengers to look out for a flood as the result of a waterspout. Three hours later the whole end of the lake gave way, sweeping everything before it, railroads, bridges and telegraph lines included” (Johnstownpa.com, 2022). So, my previous statement may not be correct, however if there was in fact a message sent, it was not taken seriously. The city of Johnstown may have needed a more official way to communicate warnings like this which the citizens could have known they needed to leave the area.

            A risk assessment should have been conducted on the dam on a regular basis to identify the hazards that were present. This could have also revealed the vulnerabilities in the structure. It also would have identified that the risk to the dam breaking would be the potential for many lives lost and millions of dollars in possible property damage. While computers were not invented at this time, the technology that GIS maps give us now allows us to better understand the impact without actually having to go back to historical events. The hunting club could have conducted a study to see if this was the best place to put a dam or their hunting club based on GIS data.

            There is much belief that the rich elite who owned the South Fork Hunting Club were neglectful in maintaining the dam that gave them their lake. According to the Bible, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (English Standard Version, 2001/2008, 1 Timothy 6:10). In addition to the blame being put on the members of the hunting club this disaster was well documented by journalists. According to Johnstown History Society, “The Club’s great wealth rather than the dam’s engineering came to be condemned. The Johnstown Flood became emblematic of what many Americans thought was going wrong with America” (Johnstown History Society, 2019). If the club was really influencing the dam workers to cut costs in construction and repairs, this could have been the result of the love of money. However, it could have just been an engineering flaw that could have been avoided in modern times.


Bennett, B. T. (2018). Understanding, assessing, and responding to terrorism: Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Personnel. Wiley.

English Standard Version Bible. (2001/2008). Crossway Bibles.

Flood history. Johnstown Area Heritage Association. (2019, December 13). Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://www.jaha.org/attractions/johnstown-flood-museum/flood-history/

May 31, 1889 johnstown flood by the New York Times. (2023). Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://www.johnstownpa.com/History/hist30.html

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