Reports in the Press

Those who did not witness rescues in person could see them depicted in the mass press. The images that appeared in numerous publications started to give Parisians a sense of the scope and scale of what was happening around their city. The illustration on the back cover of Le Petit Journal Illustré offered viewers a particularly dramatic scene emphasizing the work of rescue. Although it probably depicts a fictional occurrence, it captured much of the hope and fear of the moment.

In this figure, rescuers have pulled their boat up to a house in the middle of the night and are gently lifting an elderly paralytic through his bedroom window to safety as snow whips all around. In the corner of the image, the top of a lamppost sticks up just above the level of the raging water, showing just how deep it had become. In the boat, a group of refugees huddle together under wraps along with some of their belongings, a dog, and a bird in its cage. They appear to have lost everything else--but at least the misery is shared.