A meeting with President Carter

'77 Johnstown Flood: 40 Years Later

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa - When the Laurel Run Dam failed on July 20, 1977 100 millon gallons of water poured into the Conemaugh River. 

Dozens of people were killed and the Johnstown region was hit with millions of dollars of destruction.

People lost their jobs, others still had a mortgage to pay on a home that was washed away.

Ed Cernic, Sr. and Larry Olek were among they key figures that led the flood relief efforts. They helped raise more than $1.2 million dollars for those who fell through the cracks of the federal system.

When former First Lady Rosalyn Carter paid a visit to the city, Ed Cernic presented her with a plaque and he slipped a note next to it. That note was address to the president.

Later that day at Bethlehem Steel, 

"My superintendent came to me and said the white house wants me on the phone," said Cernic.

After reading the note, former President Jimmy Carter invited Cernic and a group to the Oval Office.

"My heart was beating 90-mile-an-hour. A nobody with the President of the United States," said Cernic. "I said how soon can we expect this help?

Carter's last words were "hurry home."

Within days, federal offices were in place around Johnstown. The federal government provided $285 million in aid.


Cernic said the teamwork and the resiliency helped lift Johnstown out of the muck and destruction of the '77 Flood.


"The generosity of people, ability of people from a variety of backgrounds to work together towards a common cause."



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