By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
The American Red Cross plans to hold educational disaster preparedness days around the 125th anniversary of the Mt. Vernon tornado, Feb. 19, 1888.
Sandy Vaughn, community market manager for American Red Cross, Greater St. Louis Region, said the disaster that killed 37 people was one of the first to which the Red Cross provided disaster relief. The organization is calling the anniverary of the tornado Clara Barton Preparedness Awareness Day.
Barton was in Washington, D.C. when she learned about the tornado, and she traveled to the city and met with a committee of citizens organized to provide relief, information states.
“This beautiful little city has passed through a terrible ordeal,” Barton wrote to a former Mt. Vernon resident in a letter dated March 7, 1888. “Death and destruction have swept over it and it lies in wreck and ruin.”
The Red Cross raised about $150,000 for relief, and the cities of Nashville, Evansville, Ind., and Centralia sent firefighters and equipment, as well as physicians, information states.
Volunteers and Americorps members will be visiting City Schools District 80, Bethel Grade School and St. Mary School in February to educate students about the disaster and what the Red Cross does to help, Vaughn said.
The Red Cross plans to leave a disaster relief kit with each school, she said.
“We are going to tell the students about the history of the tornado,” Vaughn said. “We’re also asking businesses for sponsorships.”
Those who are interested in sponsoring the awareness campaign and disaster relief kits may contact Sandy Vaughn, community market manager at 532-3511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.