In late May 1889, one of the worst rainstorms recorded struck Pennsylvania, inundating the reservoir. Flooding in the town of Johnstown reached 10 feet, trapping many in their homes. On the afternoon of May 31, the dam broke, sending 20 million tons of water rushing towards Johnstown, fourteen miles away.
An hour after the dam broke, the wall of water and accumulated debris struck Johnstown, killing thousands. Disaster relief efforts were coordinated by the newly formed American Red Cross, which was led by Clara Barton.
The other method is “bundling.” Under this system, flood coverage is combined with coverage for other perils such as fire and windstorm, thus spreading the risk of flood losses across a large geographical area and greatly increasing the percentage of the population covered for flood damage. Countries that have adopted this method include the United Kingdom, Spain and Japan. In addition, in some countries such as France and Spain there are government compensation programs for major disasters, including flooding, that take effect when the cost of a disaster reaches a certain level.