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Johnstown, PA, USA, after the Great Flood of 1889. Wikimedia.

Johnstown, PA, USA, after the Great Flood of 1889. Wikimedia.

When my grandmother was eight years old, her family’s farm was devastated by flood waters.  Her memories are part of the latest haibun published at bookscover2cover:     

Lickin’ Creek

May 31st is the anniversary of the Great Flood of 1889 which destroyed Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Torrential rains (and negligence) caused a catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River, resulting in the death of over 2,200 people.   

The worst flood occurred in 1889, but Johnstown also flooded in 1894, 1907, 1924, 1936, and 1977.  The worst year was 1936, when flood damage reached the whole way from Johnstown to Pittsburgh.  Many of the smaller creeks were affected too – even into south-central Pennsylvania.  Almost 80 years later, my grandmother remembers the day she needed to rescue the family’s cold, wet, miserable chickens. 

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25 thoughts on “Lickin’ Crick (bookscover2cover / haibun)

  1. Where did my comment go? Did the internet eat it? Dammit. I did write something about how much I loved the idea of the stones being the ennervator in the dynamic, and the feet/sshoes just following along where they were directed. Goshdarnit. Lovely piece.

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  2. Reading your story brings back even more recent destruction visited here by flooding … an almost yearly occurrence in certain areas, like Genoa! Thanks for sharing this bit of history with us, nicely written!

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      • Italy has a bad urban maintenance … lots of these places have existed since the middle ages (or before) and on rivers … including Arco BTW … fortunately Trentino after a really bad flood a few years back go their act together and started running river maintenance programs … but it’s the exception to the norm. Here everyone beats their breast in the face of these tragedies and then everything gets forgotten … a mess!

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  3. Great story Jen, history shares with us such amazing tales of resilience and endeavour…..while I was away in Europe recently there was a huge storm here which brought about massive destruction including some lives lost, thankfully my house was ok, just the lose of power for a few days….

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