A catastrophe of the same kind, but still more fearful, was to close the life of that sovereign. On the 17th of November, 1824, a wind blowing from the west and southwest with extreme violence, heaped the waters of the gulf up into the narrow funnel of the Neva, and poured them, slowly at first, along the streets. As night began to close in, the waters continued to rise higher and higher—came streaming through the streets—lifted all the carts and equipages from the ground—rushed in mighty cataracts through the windows and into the cellars, and rose in huge columns from the common sewers. On Vasiliefskoi island and on the St. Petersburg side the suffering was greatest, particularly on the latter island, where many of the poor were lodged in tenements of no very solid construction. Some of the wooden houses were lifted from the ground, and continued to float about, with all their inhabitants in them, without going to pieces. Equipages were abandoned in the streets, and the horses, una ble to disengage themselves from their harness, were miserably drowned, while their masters had sought safety in some more elevated spot. The trees in the public squares were as crowded with men as they had ever before been with sparrows. Still the water kept rising, and toward evening had attained such a height, that it was feared the storm would tear the men-of-war from their moorings, and drive them in among the houses. The calamity was the more destructive, as it had come so noiselessly upon the city, that none had imagined the danger so great as it really was. The emperor speedily gathered a few resolute men around him, sent some of them with assistance in all directions, and with others got into a bark, visited the spots where the suffering was most appalling, and did not hesitate to expose his life to a thousand dangers, in order to rescue all whom he could reach, and to whom he could afford aid. The worst effects of the inundation were those that were operated unseen. Many houses fell in only on the followin g day, when the river had already returned into its' accustomed bed; but from those that remained standing, it was long before the damp could be expelled. Sickness became general, and deadly epidemics continued to rage in some quarters for many weeks afterward.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855