St. Francis Dam Disaster.
determining the cause of the catastrophe.
New York Times (newspaper),
New York, New York.
Thursday, March 15, 1928.
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Coroner Frank A. Nance of Los Angeles County, in announcing his investigation, said two questions must be answered: If the dam was faultily built, and did Los Angeles officials have reason to fear that it was likely to give way.
Put Blame on Los Angeles.
Meanwhile a committee was organized at a conference here to formulate a general rehabilitation program. Speakers charged that the City of Los Angeles, which built the dam as part of Its water system, was responsible for the disaster.
C. C. Teague, resident of Santa Paula and President of the Southern California Fruit Growers Exchange, was chosen Chairman of the conference, which met at the call of Mayor M. L. Steckel of Santa Paula. Mr. Teague headed the fight waged against the building of the St. Francis Dam by the residents of the Santa Clara River valley, the latter charging that Los Angeles, by means of the structure, was usurping the water rights of the valley by diverting the flow of the Santa Clara River. Legal suits to test the disputed points are still in the courts. Mr. Teague said that probably 200 homes had been damaged "in this vicinity," and if the damage to each averaged only $1,000, this phase of the loss in Santa Paula alone would total $200,000.
A committee member interrupted to say that he had received more than fifty offers of financial aid from individuals through Southern California, which he had tentatively declined. The committee man asked for instructions regarding similar offers in the future, and Chairman Teague replied:
"The great City of Los Angeles, which caused the damage, should be approached first of all for funds for rehabilitation."
Would Fight City in Courts.
Dr. D. W. Mott, former State Senator, declared that one of the first duties was to fix responsibility for the disaster. He said that Governor Young, on his visit here last night, had asked him to express an opinion on the question of responsibility. Dr. Mott's reply to the Governor, as he gave it to the meeting, was:
"The responsibility is that of a selfish city that took the water belonging to us."
Dr. Mott quoted the Governor as saying that the events of yesterday proved by the way the water flowed out of San Francisquito Canyon that it was "confluent to the Santa Clara valley." He reported to the meeting that Governor Young had promised a full investigation into Santa Clara Valley water rights. Dr. Mott's closing declaration to the meeting was:
"There must be an early and just appraisal of the damage done to individuals.
"The City of Los Angeles will try to minimize the damage and to prove that we are not entitled to anything. We probably will have to appeal to the courts."
Newspaper images: 9600 dpi jpeg of 300 dpi jpg of original newspaper from the collection of Alan Pollack