St. Louis, May 29---The rays of the rising sun disclosed to the view of the
citizens of St. Louis yesterday morning scenes of desolation and woe unparalleled
in the history of the city, marking the path of the most extraordinary and
destructive tornado of modern times. One hundred and thirty lives are
now known to have been lost in the awful storm that swept this city Wednesday
Over three hundred people were seriously injured and innumerable slight injuries were inflicted.
The R. G. Dun & Co. mercantile agency has estimated the property loss at $50,000,000. And the loss is as complete and thorough as though its equivalent in money had been thrown into the ocean, for there was so little tornado insurance carried in the city that it amounts to practically nothing at this time.
Searching parties are still at work in the ruins, and no man can say how many bodies will be brought to light before the setting of another sun. The full realization of the loss sustained has not yet impressed the people.
Gov. Stone has called out the militia and 150 extra policemen will be sworn in this morning, to continue on duty 30 days. A fund of $15,000 for the immediate relief of the homeless was raised on the floor of the Merchant's Exchange yesterday with scarcely an effort, and the sum will be increased to $100,000 if it is found necessary, a contingency some fear will arise. Congressman Joy has introduced a resolution in congress, which President Cleveland has promised to sign, arranging for the use of army tents by those who were robbed of their homes by the storm.
Telegrams of condolence and offers of assistance are pouring in from many cities. The disaster that has visited St. Louis has aroused the sympathy of the world.
AT THE MORGUE
Crowds haunted the morgue all night. They were kept without, the bodies as they were brought in being placed behind the large glass partition for identification.
All night and all Thursday morning bodies were brought there. The usual marble slabs were displaced by pine coffins, as requiring less space.
The bodies were stretched upon boxes, and before long every inch of the space save a narrow passageway was occupied.
The crowd in front of the morgue increased constantly until it blocked the sidewalk and extended into the street. It was a weeping and walling concourse. Pitiful tales were told by mothers of their missing children, by wives of husbands who had failed to return home.
The people were necessarily shut out from their dead. Had all who sought admission been granted it the morgue would have been filled to overflowing and the proper disposition of the bodies that were arriving almost constantly impossible.
The crowd, which was almost a mob, surged and groaned with the horror discernible through the glass partition. Bodies of men and women, many battered beyond recognition, met the gaze of those fortunate enough to reach the glass screen.
Some idea of it was passed to those behind by the exclamations from those in front.
At nine o'clock the crowd in front of the morgue was so dense that additional policemen were necessary to preserve order. To permit traffic the crowd was forced off the pavement and kept lined up at the curbstone, with a passageway left in the middle of the street for the dead wagons.
There were constant appeals from frantic people for admission. Some were stolid in their grief, others gave vent to the most heartrending outcries.
While the attaches of the morgue were busy with a body, a woman almost erased with grief burst through the superintendent's office and into the room of the dead. Her cries resounded through the house a she called aloud:
"O, my sister, my sister."
It was impossible to quiet the frantic woman. She rushed as one distracted from body to body. Her sister was not there. She was not satisfied. She continued to cry out in her grief. When finally quieted she said that her sister's name was Ida Sieger and she lived on Sidney street, near Twelfth street. Her condition was such that she could give no further information.
Fifteen minutes before three women, scarcely less frantic, had appeared searching for three young girls who left home before the tornado Wednesday afternoon and had not returned. They had started for a physician's office on South Broadway. They were Lena Lange, Elen Wetzel and Olga Wehrfritz, all living at 2906 1/2 Olive street. One of the women was the mother of Edna Wetzel. They were so overcome with grief that it was with difficulty they made any statement.
Momentarily the gong of an approaching dead wagon would cause the crowd to part. The trips of the wagons with their mutilated human freight became more and more frequent.
There had been a slight lull shortly after daylight, until the searchers at work in the path the cyclone had marked could reach the victims of its fury.
As the work progressed the wagons with the dead drove up to the morgue almost in procession.
Each new arrival was greeted with gasps of horror by the crowd.
What had at first been a collection of bereaved and grief-stricken men and women had gradually grown to a mass of curiosity seekers.
At eight o'clock the crowd almost took the morgue by storm. Several men attempted to force their way into the office of Supt. Mack, but were pushed back and the door barred. The police had difficulty in controlling the almost frantic mass.
Those who were seeking their dead were admitted to the morgue in twos and threes. Many obtained admission under false pretenses. some found their dead; others left with sinking hearts, convinced that their missing were beneath ruins.
At eight o'clock in the morning there were 56 bodies in the morgue, many of them still unidentified.
Several days will elapse before an absolutely accurate estimate can be made of the destruction wrought by Wednesday's storm.
It is not yet possible to state with certainty how many lives were lost. It will never be known how many were injured. Neither will the identity of all the dead ever be established. Even the death of many victims will not be positively assured, as there are bodies hidden in the river and others buried in wreckage.
For days rescue parties will be at work digging in the ruins searching for the dead.
The property loss is way up in the millions. Hundreds of homes are in ruins, dozens of manufacturing plants and dozens of business houses are wrecks. Many steamboats are gone to the bottom of the river and others are dismantled, railroads of all kinds have suffered great loss, and wire and pole-using companies have weeks of toll and large expenditures of money to face before they will be in satisfactory shape again.
That the conditions in East St. Louis are worse than in St. Louis would seem impossible when the destruction in the southwestern part of this city is viewed.
The most furious work of the storm was along Rutger street, Lafayette and Chouteau avenues and contiguous thoroughfares east of Jefferson avenue.
The houses are in the streets with the roofs underneath, buried by brick and mortar. Under the brick and mortar are household goods of every description, and on top of all are uprooted trees and tangled masses of wire.
There is not a tree nor a building standing in Lafayette park.
The wreck of the city hospital is so surrounded by debris that it is barely possible to get within two blocks of it.
Within an hour after the storm burst the city dispensary was a scene of confusion and suffering calculated to make the strongest of men feel faint and sick.
The wounded and dying were brought in, in every imaginable manner and conveyance. Some succeeded in walking there, and then fell fainting on the floor, where they were allowed to lie until they could be attended to.
Some came there only to die and be sent to the morgue.
The entire corps of physicians was on hand in a few minutes and busy as they could possibly be.
At first efforts were made to keep some record of the injured and the nature of their injuries, but the number increased so rapidly that the stern necessity for prompt attendance made time too valuable to allow it to be devoted to asking questions.
Cots were collected from every available source and in a few minutes the dispensary waiting rooms and the halls were filled to their utmost capacity with injured and dying victims.
The whole scene was but dimly revealed by the dull light of candles hastily purchased at an adjacent grocery store, and stuck up in corners wherever a place could be found.
In and out among the injured, terror-stricken people were searching for friends or relatives who were missing. Failing in their search at the dispensary they would start for the morgue.
The rain was falling in sheets and the ambulances coming u at a gallop with more injured.
The city hospital was a wreck. Where to send the injured was teh problem. The Exposition was offered; so was the Auditorium. The roof was off the Armory.
Then Mrs. Scott, wife of the main in charge of the armory, came to the rescue. "Get into the Good Shepherd convent," was her suggestion, and it was instantly adopted.
Dr. Starkloff enlisted anyone he could lay hands on, and under the guidance of a reporter the convent was invested.
Mrs. Scott and the Sisters there had already began to do the needed work. The dark, empty rooms, which had a history of their own already, were thrown open as a refuge for the victims of the storm. The gas burned with but a dim flicker, so lamps and candles had to be procured from all available sources.
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