Jon McClintock reported out of Altoona for WTAJ back in 1977. But when tragedy struck, he saw himself heading to Johnstown. McClintock met with WTAJ to re-watch his story from 1977 and take us back to what he witnessed.
When McClintock arrived in Johnstown he saw mud covered roads and police patrolling the streets for looters. Part of his job was a difficult one: try and talk to those effected.
“It was clear upon looking here, that these people had not slept all night,” he explained, “In this neighborhood, cars were piling up on the corners, 3 and 4 deep, into the houses. These people hadn’t slept and they didn’t know who i was or talking to, they had to try to survive this day, and it was no time to be bothering them.”
On scene there was no way to communicate back to the station what was going on. Telephone lines were down and traveling on flooded roads was out of the question. McClintock said that where he was, no one knew what was going on over at the other side of town.
He detailed, “We knew nothing of the extent of the death and injuries in the west end.”
Stories from the flood would headline news outlets for weeks to follow. McClintock often thinks back on what he witnessed in Johnstown. He says people come up to him and the first things they remember are the mud and smell from the collected water on the street. Those images and stories are things he says will always stay with him.
He said, “I would like to think that all the journalism that I did at Channel 10 and elsewhere, this represents it. I’m very proud of this and if this is my legacy in journalism, then I did well.”
You can watch McClintock’s full story from 1977 by clicking here.