Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind: The Regina Tornado of 1912 part 5 of 6

Once the tornado had passed, people immediately began to search for others trapped and/or injured in wrecked buildings. The work began in a haphazard fashion; men, women, children and even guests from nearby hotels jumped in to help. In common with other young cities of the time, Regina had no disaster plan in place so people had to step in to take charge. Electricity, telephone and telegraph services were down. The rescue effort became more orderly when the police from the Royal North-West Mounted Police barracks arrived after the town picket rode out to the barracks to alert them. Within an hour of the tornado the telegraph wire was restrung and the message “Cyclone hit Regina 16.50k. City in Ruins.” was sent out to the world.

The response was quick and by 7:15 a special train had arrived from Moose Jaw with medical supplies, doctors and nurses. Power was restored that evening but the telephone lines were still down and Boy Scouts were pressed into service to deliver messages. The next day, July 1, the Relief Executive was set up and was soon busy providing temporary shelter, food and clothing. With so much to be done, Mayor Peter McAra sent out a proclamation to postpone the Dominion Day celebrations and to close down the hotel bars.

Medical services were overwhelmed by the injured. Regina had two hospitals which were quickly filled so the wounded went to other centres which had been set up. The injured were also cared for in private homes. It was a logistical nightmare to find missing persons and to cope with all the injured. Initial newspaper reports had higher casualties from the disaster. These figures were whittled down once the count of displaced persons was completed.

Damaged homes on Smith Street, Regina, 1912
Regina Archives CORA-B-1028


Anderson, Frank (1980). Regina's Terrible Tornado, June 30, 1912. Surrey, BC, Heritage House Publishing Company

Bingaman, Sandra (2011). Storm of the Century: The Regina Tornado of 1912. Regina, Saskatchewan: Canadian Plains Research Center Press

Looker, Janet (2000). Disaster Canada. Toronto, Ontario: Lynx Images Inc.


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