Education: Johnstown Flood Museum

Johnstown Area Heritage Association
Primary source: Survivor stories

Survivors describe the Flood

Charles R. Phipps

This was about 4 P.M. In a few minutes the water began to enter the room. We started to take up the carpets, but in less than half a minute some one burst into the room, exclaiming “The reservoir has broken; get up stairs, quick! Quick!” We did not get there too soon, for as we rushed up the stairs the house opposite crushed into ours, and behind it was a great wall of water bearing on its surface, houses, trees, cars and almost every other imaginable object. From the second floor we saw a three-story brick house fall to the ground. Our house moved off with the current, and, as it went, two walls of the room we were in fell. I jumped for the window of the house next door to ours, and from there to the roof; but as it started off and seemed about to roll over, I sprang into the waters to reach what was left of ours. As I got on it the roof fell in, and we crawled to a pile of drift that was whirling by. It lodged some hundred feet from the front street and we got to the floor of a brick house which was poised at an angle of about forty-five degrees. I helped the others up (three ladies and two gentlemen).

From Rev. Dr. David Beale's book Through the Johnstown Flood.

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