The PACB and the American Red Cross share a common mission: to help neighbors in need.
When the Red Cross steps in, that need is usually completely unexpected, extremely urgent, and the product of a heart-breaking brush with death. Frequently, a family loses their home and everything in it to fire, or flood, or hurricane, and have nothing more than the clothes on their backs and the food in their stomachs.
Because the services the Red Cross provides are free to victims, the charity relies heavily upon the generosity of donors and corporate partners to finance their humanitarian work, which dates back to Civil War days.
Enter the PACB, who has been amassing a fund for victims of disaster for more than 35 years.
The PACB fund was established after the Johnstown Flood of 1977, which had painful echoes of the 1889 flood that has become synonymous with that gritty town and which claimed the lives of 2,209 people 126 years ago. The Great Johnstown Flood of 1889 is remembered as the worst disaster by dam failure in American history.
The second great flood hit Johnstown in 1977–88 years later–killing 84 and causing $300 million in property damage.
The founding mission of the PACB disaster relief fund was finally realized on Aug. 13, when members of the PACB Executive Committee presented a check for just under $74,000 to the Central Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross, which serves 22 counties.
“This check represents the many ways community banks give back,” said Nick DiFrancesco, President & CEO of PACB, and a former Dauphin County Commissioner who supervised emergency response during several devastating hurricanes, tropical storms and floods where the Susquehanna River and local creeks and streams overflowed their banks. “Community banks always come to the aid of their neighbors. This is another manifestation of our intimate relationship with Main Street.”
Last fiscal year, the local Red Cross assisted close to 800 families, or just under 4,000 individuals who experienced personal disasters throughout the Capital region, according to Red Cross Board Chair Karen Deklinski.
Red Cross Regional CEO Ellen Kyzer was also on hand for the check presentation, along with PACB Chairman Elect Terry Foster, PACB Past Chairman Dennis Cirucci, and PACB Secretary/Tresurer Fred Henrich.
The group then toured one of the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles.
The American Red Cross was officially established in 1882, after years of work by pioneer nurse Clara Barton’s organization in wartime efforts.
Johnstown and the Red Cross share a special, time-honored bond. On June 5, 1889, approximately five days after the South Fork Dam broke in Johnstown, Clara Barton and a group of Red Cross volunteers rode the train to the devastated town to help survivors in one of the first major disaster responses for the organization.
Barton and the Red Cross remained in the town for more than five months and provided aid to more than 25,000 people by establishing feeding stations, building shelters and rendering medical care.
Some people survived the Johnstown Flood by clinging to the roofs of their barns and homes. Much of the wreckage floated into a 30-acre pile of debris backed up at a stone bridge. Tragically, this wreckage caught fire, causing many survivors of the flood to perish by fire, including one grief-stricken mother who lost all seven of her children, as she witnessed them floating around her.
The Johnstown Flood of 1889 was the greatest loss of civilian life in one day before 9/11.
The gritty town has been described as a giant drain sitting at the bottom of many watersheds that are prone to flood.
In the 1977 flood, 12 inches of rain fell in 10 hours, as thunderstorms parked themselves stubbornly over the area. The National Guard was mobilized, and President Jimmy Carter declared the town a federal disaster area. Streets were rivers, and unanchored houses and apartment buildings became floating masses.
2014 marked the 125-year anniversary of the Great Johnstown Flood, and 2015 was the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, which took 1,833 lives in Louisiana. Images of Hurricane Katrina reminded us of the destructive force of nature and the goodness in the hearts of Americans.
The money donated to the Red Cross on August 13 was raised by the organization that predated PACB – the Savings and Loan Association – and is dedicated to the Emergency Disaster Relief Fund.
As the gold standard in disaster relief care, the Red Cross is a worthy recipient of the generosity of past and current members of PACB, who live by the golden rule every day in their homes and communities.
This article can be found featured in the October 2015 issue of Transactions. Not a subscriber? Visit the Transactions page on this website or call PACB at 717-231-7447 to start receiving the magazine.
The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region Thanks PACB
We invite you to watch the video below, provided to PACB by The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region, in which Ernie from The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Region thanks PACB for the generous donation and explains what the funds will be used for.