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des people johstown essay

des people johstown essay - Deniz Gorgun Johnstown Flood...

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Deniz Gorgun 10/3/07 Johnstown Flood and Human Errors On May 31 st , 1889, one of the worst disasters the US has ever seen happened. The inhabitants of Johnstown were hopelessly waiting for the flood to hit their homes after they heard of it coming. It didn’t take long; came like an apocalypse to them, inevitable. Imagine a flood of height of 20 feet and the debris washing away everything it crashes, there is nowhere to run. 2209 people according to the official sources have lost their lives by the flood. Many lost their homes, their families and everything else they had. The only thing left to those who survived from this once burgeoning city was barren earth and scrap of buildings. This was a disaster. Finding a succinct definition for a ‘human disaster’ is a really hard job. There are many approaches to this phenomenon, with a basic common factor which E. L. Quarantelli summarizes as: ‘a happening that has negative consequences for mental health.” The effects on mental health in any disaster are often complicated and difficult to understand. As an example, it could be claimed that what makes the Johnstown flood a disaster is actually the innocent lives lost because of it, and the mental trauma it left on those who survived. Obviously such a huge happening has plenty of causes, including engineering mistakes, management insufficiencies, neglect and the weather conditions. However, human decisions made during years before the disaster are the main causes. First of all, the history of the South Fork Dam, which broke after the five days of heavy rainfall, must be brought into sunlight before analyzing the human errors. The dam
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was constructed in 1852 by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, mainly to supply water to the Connemaugh River. The river was the most convenient way of transportation to and fro Johnstown. Johnstown was a city with rich resources at a good location. In that special landscape, at a riverbed, without the fully development of the railroad transportation, a presence of canal was crucial for the city to develop more, since the canal was the most convenient way of transportation at the time. As the years followed with the development of technology, the railroad transportation was now established through Johnstown, causing at once a straight shift from canal transport to trains. One of the main reasons the railroad construction was completed in this time interval so fast, is the establishment of the Cambria Iron Factory, at Johnstown.
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