St. Louis, MO Tornado, May 1896 - Night Scenes in East St. Louis


Fires Under Control--Ambulances Going--Search Lights Used to Find Sufferers.

St. Louis, May 28.-- Shortly after midnight the fire department secured control of the conflagration at East St. Louis and the members of the department began to assist the ambulance corps in caring for the wounded. No attention was paid toward taking care of the dead. The streets were in Egyptian darkness and searchlights were placed on patrol wagons in an effort to reach the location of the injured. The ambulances were run at breakneck speed and inside one hour at least twenty-five seriously injured were carried to the dispensary. Their wounds were dressed as rapidly as possible and they were carried to houses to await the result of their injuries.

The scenes of death and suffering in East St. Louis are beyond the power of description. Men, women, and children fell victims to the sudden swoop of the elements and the clang of the ambulance only notified the survivors of the death of another citizen. Railroads both east bound and west bound are stalled at the entrance of the Eads bridge with no hope of proceeding farther for the next three days. Every ferry boat on the river has fallen victim to wind and waves and there are not over two crafts in the river tonight that dare cross the Mississippi. Men bringing information of the condition of affairs in the ill-fated city of East St. Louis are obliged to climb on hands and knees across the broken girders of the Eads bridge.

Superintendent Jones of the Western Union telegraph corps of repairers made the perilous trip at midnight and reports the situation one of horror. The people are panic stricken and nearly 200 are homeless. In addition to this is the horrible fear that some of their relatives have fallen a prey to the elements.

It is utterly impossible to get a record of the dead as carried into the improvised morgues. So far, seventy-four bodies have been found and at this hour messengers are constantly notifying the authorities of finding the remains of unfortunate victims in ditches, under trestle works, railroad wreckage and in the demolished residences and railroad depots.

At the east telegraph switch tower of the Eads bridge twenty unidentified bodies are stacked in ghastly rows on the pine floor. Of these it is assumed that fully three-quarters are well known and prosperous citizens.

The identified dead so far include Judge Foulke and his wife of Vandalia, Ill., who were among the victims of the relay depot wreck.

Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 28 May 1896