Easter Sunday 1913 dawned as a spring-like day of celebration. It ended as a day of mourning. With little warning, seven tornados roared through eastern Nebraska, turning this into the deadliest natural disaster in Nebraska’s history.
The most devastating tornado cut a seven mile swath through Ralston and Omaha, killing 100 people. All told, the tornado outbreak would be responsible for 168 deaths and nearly $10 million in damage (more than $200 million in today’s dollars).
“Devil Clouds: Tornados Strike Nebraska” is a reporting project that tells more than a storm story. Developed in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the event (which took place on March 23, 1913), it’s a story full of heroes and colorful characters; a story of tragedy, but also recovery and resolve; and the story of a city and state in transition, and the impact of a single devastating event on these places. It’s a story so well documented visually that it offers an intriguing glimpse into the disaster, and the lives of 1913 Nebraskans in places like Omaha, Ralston, Yutan and Otoe (called Berlin at the time). The documentary will be told through the use of high quality photographs, newspaper accounts, letters and books, and the perspective of historians and relatives of survivors.