Tupelo, MS Tornado, Apr 1936

Many Reported Dead in Tornado; Tupelo, Miss., TVA City, Wrecked

Deaths in Stricken Town May Rnn Into Hundreds, One Report
Says — Fine Residential Section in Rains and Fires Threaten
Rest of the City — Fatalities in Two Other States

TUPELO, Miss., April 5 — Practically
the entire western section
of this TVA city was blown away
tonight by a terrific storm which
left an undetermined number of
dead and injured and widespread
fires in its wake.
The town was in utter confusion.
Reports of the number of persons
killed ranged from ten to forty,
with scores injured. Property damage
was undetermined and virtually
all communication lines were
disrupted.
Every available physician and
nurse was pressed into service, together
with many volunteers. All
Tupelo hospitals overflowed with
dead and injured.

By The Associated Press.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 6.—
M. G. Despain, general manager of
the Public Service Company at
Tupelo, Miss., told The Associated
Press here by telephone tonight
that the death toll in the tornado
there tonight may run into hundreds.
The city water reservoir, Mr.
Despain said, was destroyed, and
the city was in darkness as rescue
squads took bodies from the wreckage.
A heavy rain that continued
through the night hampered the
rescue work.
Mr. Despain reported that "ten
or fifteen blocks" of the "fine residential
section" in the northwest
section of the city was leveled, and
added that persons coming from the
scene "said they can't see how anybody
came out alive."
Asked if the death toll would run
over a hundred, he replied, "Yes,
and then some."
The city's one hospital, he reported,
already was taxed beyond capacity.
The injured were being
treated at the court house and in
business buildings.
"Water is going to be a problem
tomorrow," he declared.
No one will know the number of
dead until the great mass of debris
is cleared away, he said.
Earlier a telephone operator at
Tupelo had told The Birmingham
Age-Herald that "at least ten or
fifteen" persons were killed.
A fire was raging in the city after
the storm, the operator said.
The hospital at Tupelo was taxed
beyond its capacity with injured,
the operator added, and an emergency
call was sent out to nearby
towns asking for all available
physicians to rush to Tupelo with
medical supplies.
The operator reported that "they
are picking up people in the streets
and we don't know how many are
dead or injured."

(The final death toll was estimated to be more than 230 persons)

April 6, 1936 edition of The New York Times