Chandler, OK Tornado, Mar 1897
Dead And Dying.
Cyclone at Chandler Leaves Only Destruction.
Number Dead Unknown.
The Fatality is Estimated at Fully Fifty, With Over Two Hundred Injured. Many of Whom Are Seriously Hurt. A Large Number of Bodies Burned in the Ruins-Town Wiped Out.
Guthrie, O.T., March 31.-The latest details from Chandler received here at 6 o’clock this morning states that 45 persons were killed and 200 badly hurt by the cyclone which struck that place.
The surrounding towns were notified and rescuing parties started for the scene of the disaster.
The entire business portion of the town buried after being wrecked. It is not thought that there are 25 or 30 more dead bodies in the burned ruins.
The scene is awful and several of the injured are raving crazy. The main street of the town is a mass of dead and injured people, and teams, wagons, buggies, trees and other movable articles are strewn along the street.
Justice Dale, who was holding court, ran with his wife to a hollow and held her behind a large boulder and both were unhurt.
Every building but one on the main street was wrecked and burned, including the courthouse, post office, The News and Democrat offices, Lincoln County bank, New York store and several hotels.
Chaos Reigns and the Town Turned Into a Veritable Morgue.
Guthrie, O.T., March 31.-Chaos reigns in the town of Chandler. Last night’s terrible cyclone turned the beautiful town of 1500 inhabitants into a veritable morgue and its principal business buildings and residences lay wrecked in all directions, grim reminder of the storm’s work. As yet there is no way of getting at the actual number of the dead and wounded, so great is the confusion that prevails. The death list is variously estimated at from 25 to 50, with the injured numbering from 75 to twice that number. Already 20 bodies have been recovered. Rain poured down upon the disconsolate inhabitants all during the weary hours of the night and added to the horror of the situation. In many cases the injured called unavailable for help and lay in the wrecks of their homes until daylight made it possible for them to aid themselves or when assistance from surrounding towns arrived.
Many wrecks took fire and burned themselves out and several were still smouldering [sic] when the morning broke. From the fire’s work may finally come worse realizations of disaster, for it is believed that many of the missing were burned to death. This phase of the situation will not be cleared away till perfect order is again restored and a careful summing up of the storm’s doings made possible.
The cyclone struck Chandler without warning about 6 o’clock last evening, tearing through the business district. Stores were hurled right and left, lifted high into the air and tossed in every direction. The courthouse, in which Justice Dale was holding court, was taken off its foundation and the building demolished.
Passing on into the residence district the wind wrecked its vengeance there, and rushing in to the open country finally spent itself. The trail it left was one of wreck and ruin most complete.
In a very short time after the cyclone passed a heavy rainstorm came up and developed into a deluge, which probably proved the savior of the town, for in many spots it quenched fires and stemmed a conflagration that channeled the town that the citizens could not have hoped to have stayed.
Appeals for aid met prompt responses and rescuing parties were sent out from Guthrie as the extent of the damage became known. By midnight some show of systematic rescue had been perfected and the dead and dying were being released from grim prisons into which their own homes had been transformed. Improvised hospitals were erected and the unfortunates cared for.
At 1 o’clock this morning 21 dead bodies were taken from the ruins while dozens more or less badly injured were removed to places of safety. In addition it is known that others whom it had been unable to reach or who perhaps had been incinerated before the deluge of rain quenched the fire in their homes would swell the list of fatalities.