The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District will hold a media opportunity session at Perry Lake on May 31 from 1-3 p.m. in observance of National Dam Safety Awareness Day.
May 31 is recognized as National Dam Safety Awareness Day in commemoration of the devastation that occurred in 1889 at the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pa. The dam failed, killing 2,209 people, leaving thousands homeless. The Johnstown disaster was the worst dam failure in the United States.
The focus of National Dam Safety Awareness Day observance is to sustain the public’s involvement over time, and to sustain the public’s interest in becoming active partners in local emergency management. Citizens need to be empowered since they are the primary stakeholders in safe dams.
Lessons from devastating disasters show that there is no substitute for pre-disaster planning. Dam safety organizations encourage people who live downstream of dams are aware of and understand risks associated with dams, and that effective evacuation plans are in place. The American Society of Engineer’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure shows that dams require investment and many dams are in need of repairs.
The Corps encourages the public to urge their policymakers to take measures to prevent catastrophic dam failures. While good planning and improved dam safety programs at all levels of government have dramatically reduced the loss of life resulting from dam failures, ongoing attention and investment are necessary to protect lives and property, and preserve the valuable benefits that dams provide. State and federal policymakers can increase the safety of dams by providing strong laws and resources for continued safety programs.