Tornado kills 150 and injures 350


Bemis Park, looking towards Cummings St. just West of 33rd

“At least 150 people were killed and over 350 people were injured as a tornado swept through Omaha this Easter Sunday causing thousands of dollars of damage.”

Ninety-eight years ago on March 23 that would have been the lead story on the 10 o’clock news, if there had been TV in 1913. The historic Easter Tornado hit Omaha around 6:00 p.m. Sunday night. Even though there are no TV clips from this time there are many photos in Nebraska Memories documenting the destruction the tornado caused.

Actual tornado cloud, Omaha, Neb.

The path of the tornado started at 49th & Poppleton and continued through Carter Lake and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Areas suffering the heaviest damage were Bemis Park, Sacred Heart Academy and 24th & Lake Streets.* According to the article in Wikipedia the storm’s path was 40 miles long and ¼ to ½ mile wide.
The exact amount of damage this storm system caused varies a bit from source to source. The Commoner newspaper reported on March 28, 1913 that over 150 people died, 350 were injured and the property loss was estimated at near $6,000,000. The story also states that 1,200 houses, five public schools and seven churches were wrecked or demolished.

Woman Standing in a Pile of Rubble
Looking at the photos in Nebraska Memories it’s interesting to think about how today’s media would cover this disaster. What would this woman standing in a pile of rubble say to a reporter about the tornado and how it impacted her life?
Visit Nebraska Memories to search for or browse through many more historical images digitized from photographs, negatives, postcards, maps, lantern slides, books and other materials.
Nebraska Memories is a cooperative project to digitize Nebraska-related historical and cultural heritage materials and make them available to researchers of all ages via the Internet. Nebraska Memories is brought to you by the Nebraska Library Commission. If your institution is interested in participating in Nebraska Memories, see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/nebraskamemories/ for more information, or contact Beth Goble, Government Information Services Director, or Devra Dragos, Technology & Access Services Director.
* Source: Driscoll, Charles. Complete Story of Omaha’s Disastrous Tornado, Omaha: Mogy Publishing, c1913.

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