Natural Disaster

May 26, 1917: Killer Tornado Hits Mattoon and Charleston

 

At the start of my career as an attorney, my bride and I lived in Mattoon, Illinois for just under three years.  Charleston was the country seat of Coles County, and I spent a lot of time over there in court.  Only twelve miles separate the two towns.

Beginning on May 25, 1917 an eight day sequence of killer tornadoes struck the mid section of the country, wreaking havoc and death in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, leaving 383 people dead.

The tornado that struck Mattoon and Charleston began in Missouri and tracked a 293 mile course across Illinois, traveling at 40 mph, with the whirling winds that made up the tornado attaining 400 mph.  The skies darkened over Mattoon and Charleston around 2:00 PM with air sultry and oppressive.  At 3:00 PM a black nimbus cloud appeared and produced frequent lightning. A greenish-black cumulo-nimbus cloud appeared from the West around 3: 45 pm.  The tornado struck soon thereafter.  A contemporary account described what happened: Continue reading

May 26, 1917: Killer Tornado Hits Mattoon and Charleston

At the start of my career as an attorney, my bride and I lived in Mattoon, Illinois for just under three years. Charleston was the country seat of Coles County, and I spent a lot of time over there in court. Only twelve miles separate the two towns.

Beginning on May 25, 1917 an eight day sequence of killer tornadoes struck the mid section of the country, wreaking havoc and death in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, leaving 383 people dead.

The tornado that struck Mattoon and Charleston began in Missouri and tracked a 293 mile course across Illinois, traveling at 40 mph, with the whirling winds that made up the tornado attaining 400 mph. The skies darkened over Mattoon and Charleston around 2:00 PM on May 26, 1917 with air sultry and oppressive. At 3:00 PM a black nimbus cloud appeared and produced frequent lightning. A greenish-black cumulo-nimbus cloud appeared from the West around 3: 45 pm. The tornado struck soon thereafter. A contemporary account described what happened:

The greatest destruction was wrought in Coles County, where the tornado
struck the districts occupied by workingmen ‘s homes in the cities of Mattoon
and Charleston, the former with a population of 12,000 and the latter with
6,000. The tornado passed through this county between 3 and 4 p. m., a
time of day in which tornadoes are generally most disastrous. In Mattoon,
at 3 :30 p. m._, sixty people were killed, and ^yq hundred homes demolished
and others seriously damaged. Traveling at about 45 miles per hour the
storm struck Charleston, 11 miles east of Mattoon, at 3:45. Here, thirty-
five persons were killed, over four hundred houses and fifteen industrial
establishments partially or wholly wrecked, the two railway stations de-
molished, and all telegraph and telephone connections destroyed.

In addition to the deaths, some 583 people were injured. Estimates of property damage exceeded 55 million dollars.
The 14th most deadly tornado in US history, the killer tornado was long remembered and was still talked about in the eighties of the last century.

The Deadliest Storm

 

One hundred years since a hurricane struck the Great Lakes in November 1913.  Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings gives us the details:

The deadliest storm ever to strike the Great Lakes began a century ago today. Here’s my post from last year about it.
Here is the list of all the ships wrecked in the storm.

The shipwreck location map (click to enlarge). Some locations are approximate, 
as five ships have still not been found.
The overturned hull of the Charles S. Price, the  504 foot long steamer and
“mystery ship” that floated down the St. Clair River before a diver was able 
to go underwater to identify her.
 
 
 
A storm headline.
 
 
 
Finally, Psalm 107 (Douay 106). May God grant rest to the souls of the dead, and guard all who go down to the sea on ships. Continue reading

For We Are Saved By Hope, Crucifix Survives Devastation in Haiti

Catholic Relief Services have labeled the earthquake that has left Haiti literally in ruins as the Disaster of the Century.

As The American Catholic has posted about the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti and the devastation it has wrought, we should turn to Christ for hope.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that hath promised), And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works: Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. [1]  For we are saved by hope. [2]

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end. [3]

To help our Haitian brothers and sisters in Christ you can donate to Catholic Relief Services here.

Continue reading

Pat Robertson, Haiti and History

 

For the benefit of Mr. Robertson.  The Haitians revolted during the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon I.  The Haitians were never ruled by Napoleon III (1852-1870), having their independence recognized in 1825 by France.  Although Voodoo has been sadly ubiquitous in Haiti, there is no evidence of a pact between Satan and Haitian insurgents, although Robertson is not the only person to propound this myth, which is quite common in some evangelical circles.  A good article debunking this myth is here and here.  This of course is far from the first time that Pat Robertson has said something factually challenged and insulting, although considering the vastness of the tragedy, Robertson expounding his kook theory at this point as Haiti mourns countless dead and lies prostrate is truly beneath contempt.  Certain Catholic religious orders enjoin silence for the good of the souls of their members.  Mr. Robertson could benefit by following their example.

For those wishing to donate to Catholic Relief Services for Haiti, here is a link.

Port-au-Prince Earthquake: Archbishop Killed, Cathedral Destroyed

Vatican Radio and the Catholic News Agency report that Archbishop Serge Miot was among the many victims of yesterday’s earthquake.

According to the brief report, his body was found in the rubble of the archbishop’s office. They also reported that the Vicar General, Msgr. Benoit, was still missing.

According to the Vatican’s Fides news agency, Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza was reported as saying:

“Port-au-Prince is totally devastated. The cathedral, the Archbishop’s Office, all of the big churches, all of the seminaries have been reduced to rubble. The same luck for the Ministry buildings, the Presidential Palace, the schools. The Parish Priest of the Cathedral, who was spared, told me that the archbishop of Port-au-Prince would have died under the rubble, together with hundreds of seminarians and priests that are under the ruins.”

The historic cathedral of Port-au-Prince, an 18th century building, has collapsed, as have many other church’s through the city.

Pray for those in Haiti

A 7.0 earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince in Haiti earlier today.

Haiti is a desperately poor nation at the best of times. Weaker and older structures will mean even worse damage and loss of life, and in a nation where hunger is routine the disaster will only worsen the situation.

If you have the ability to provide monetary help, Food For The Poor has a Haiti earthquake donation page.