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I am a lady on the Sioux City Women Online Dating. Meet Hot Women in Fort Madison. Mount Pleasant Women Looking for Love. Girls Guys Couples Trans. In the end, I am sure that everyone who survived suffered some sort of trauma. I remember being absolutely terrified of storms and would gather all of my GI Joes and my teddy bear and "hide" or sit under the table in the basement where we went when things got bad.
I am no longer scared, but do take them seriously and am the first to send my family to the basement. I am absolutely convinced that the town, while it suffered some horrific times during and following the tornado and with the collapse of the farm economy in the late 70's and early 80's is one of the finest towns anywhere.
When I go home, I am proud of have grown up there. The Hauser Funeral Home was a stately, two-story dwelling that included a spacious apartment above first-floor visitation rooms, an office area and a lower level burial preparation area. Carl and his wife Alice had raised a family while living in the funeral home. Their son, Kip had recently joined the family business. Carl and Kip had spent long hours that spring working on an addition to the funeral home that would provide display space for caskets.
On May 14th, they had received a semi-truck load of caskets, their largest inventory ever. On the afternoon of May 15, Carl had just finished a funeral and there were no upcoming services on the schedule. Except for Carl and his assistant Mac Jones, who lived next door, the funeral home was empty.
Unless a call came for Carl to pick up a body, it appeared that this particular Wednesday evening would be a quiet one. Carl went and stood in the driveway for a moment, awed by the palpable stillness had crept up from the river. It was more than the absence of bird song and insect buzz. It was the presence of something, a change in the quality of air that meant that something was coming. Carl ran into the funeral home, realizing that the quiet was soon to be dangerously disturbed.
Mac said that he was going to run to his home next door instead. He needed to help his wife and blind mother, but Carl convinced him that there would be no time. Within moments of getting to the basement, Carl and Mac were blackened with dirt that sifted down through the rafters as the tornado shook the house.
Debris blocked the doorways out of the basement, but Mac fought his way through and ran home where he found his wife and mother standing at the top of the stairs, stunned but unhurt. Fortunately, their babysitter had kept them at home because of the weather. Their apartment had been torn off the top of the house and parts of the front of the building were missing.
The newly-built casket display area looked more like an open deck than a finished room. The addition had been constructed out of 12 inch concrete blocks set with 13 thirty-foot reinforcing rods. The Hausers later found nine of the rods driven into the ground by the Masonic Temple, four blocks to the northwest.
Without the reinforcing rods, the concrete block walls tumbled to the ground. Caskets were strewn into the next block. Carl also found that a body had been carefully placed on the front lawn with one of the funeral cots from the funeral coach. The garage door was blocked by a huge pile of concrete blocks that had tumbled onto the driveway from the new addition.
Rescuers had worked their way through a small opening in the garage wall, helped themselves to the cot in the funeral coach and placed the body where they trusted Carl would find it. Carl dragged the body into the funeral home. There was nothing more he could do right then and there, so he went back out to see if their neighbors needed help.
Kip sped up and the radio station went to a commercial break. Northwestern Bell Telephone Company was one block north of the funeral home. Kip flipped on his hazard lights and covered the remaining miles in an hour. As Kip and Judy approached Charles City on highway 18, they were forced to pull over half a dozen times to let ambulances pass into town. At the Seven Mile Corner west of town, they were stopped by a National Guard blockade and asked to show proof of residency to go any further.
National Guard soldiers stopped them again in front of Salsbury Laboratories on Highway 18 and a third time a short distance up the road at the American Legion Hall. From that particular vantage point, the only positive sign they had was that the trees were whole and fully-leaved as far to the right as they could see.
They hoped that this meant that their home was spared with their children safe inside. Our parents and children are in town. We have to go in. Judy stayed out of the conversation until she sensed that the poor guard was in danger of being taken off duty by her increasingly agitated husband. We need you bad. Their home had broken windows, but no serious damage.
Kip took South Main Street toward the center of town, driving across lawns where other cars had already carved a path to get around trees blocking the road. Turning from Main to Blunt Street, Kip was able to drive only a block or so before he was stalled by huge elms trees that lay sprawled across the street, crushing several cars.
Kip left the car near the old YMCA and walked to the funeral home. Inside the funeral home, the ceremonious order of the foyer and visitation rooms had been violated with a spray of mud and glass. The curtains hung in shreds and water dripped from the ceiling.
He knew her well. Sadie Chambers had been their grandmotherly neighbor across Blunt Street for many years. Kip looked through every lonely room of the funeral home, then went out into the neighborhood. Finding no one who knew anything of his father, Kip returned to the funeral home. Carl had been scouting around the neighborhood as well, helping where he could, but never crossing paths with Kip until they finally met back up at the funeral home. Without electricity and running water, they would not be able to prepare bodies for burial there.
Kip went back out to the streets and flagged down a man in an earth-moving truck who could clear a path from their garage and on down Blunt Street. With the onslaught of injured persons streaming into the hospital, the dead had been hastily moved to the morgue. None of the bodies had yet been tagged with any type of identification but Carl knew the name of each person. He also knew who would have likely called him and who would have called Hage Funeral Home across town.
Hage was not damaged but it was without utilities as well. When Kip arrived at Champion, their tiny embalming room was already occupied by one tornado victim, an unidentified male. Lane arrived to document the identities of the 3 victims Kip had delivered and gather information about the other victim. Kip worked at the Osage funeral home until after midnight. As he drove back toward Charles City, he was awestruck by the utter darkness where the city lights should have been glowing on the horizon.
At home, Judy had left a candle burning for Kip on the kitchen counter. Though she meant it to be welcoming, it stirred anxious thoughts of fire. Kip drove back downtown to the funeral home where he knew there was a supply of sturdier tall glass candleholders. Rain and wind banged doors on creaky hinges as he searched for the candles with the thin beam of his flashlight.
As he ascended the basement steps with the box of candle holders, a National Guard jeep with a mounted machine gun cut through the stillness on Blunt Street. Among other things, the guards were patrolling for looters. Kip crept stealthily to his car, careful not to invite a discussion about what he was doing carrying cargo out of a funeral home at 2: In the hours since Kip had conferred with Sheriff L. Lane about the unidentified body in the Osage funeral home, the sheriff had scouted every locale in town where he thought he might find someone who could identify the victim.
It would be nearly 24 hours after the storm before Sheriff Lane could place a name for the young man and provide a beginning step toward closure for his family. Store officials immediately accounted for their employees and several customers who escaped with bruises, cuts and broken bones.
However, they could not say for sure how many shoppers might have been inside the store when the tornado hit. Rescuers had continued to search through the layers of rubble late into the evening. Allowing rescuers to enter unstable buildings in the dark could simply lead to more trouble.
By this time, a second severe storm had pounded the city with heavy rain and straight-line winds, causing the strata of rubble to settle into even tighter layers. The eerie blue stream of light shone on a head of light brown, curly hair. Sheriff Lane called to the victim repeatedly with no response. Rescuers stood by with a stretcher while Sheriff Lane squeezed himself farther into the opening and reached for the victim, who he guessed to be a woman.
He grasped a handful of her hair, but was disheartened to find that the top of her head felt cold. Still, there might be a chance that she was still alive.
If only he could pull her through the narrow opening without setting off a further collapse. Stretching his hand wide over the top of her head and gathering a firm fistful of hair, he pulled as hard as he could. Outside the store, rescuers heard the sheriff emit a small scream followed by the only laughter they would hear from him that night.
Sheriff Lane shimmied back out of the tunnel and tossed forth the fruits of his rescue attempt: At the time I was 7 years old and lived on a farm west of Chatfield. I remember after coming home from school I walked across a field to where my Dad was repairing a fence. When we walked back to the house I looked up and saw things drifting down from the sky.
I remember small tufts of pink fiberglass insulation and pieces of "tar" paper. The sky was overcast with cirrus clouds and the sky was darker to the south. I don't recall, but there may have been thunder in the distance because I distinctly remember saying to my Dad, "Maybe some birds got hit my lightning and they're falling down.
I'm not certain of the time, it may have been between 4 and 5pm. There was also at least one tornado in southeast Minnesota that day. I'm not sure where it originated, but it caused damage on the northwest edge of Canton, moved northeast to Newburg and continued on at least 5 or 6 miles.
It damaged numerous farms, including my grandparent's north of Mabel. It also blew the windows out of a church about one half mile west of their farm. The tornado struck their farm shortly after 7pm. I was born in Charles City in Later that year my folks moved my 3 brothers and me to Denver CO. I remember coming home from school and my Mom freaking out watching grainy black and white t.
I often wonder how our lifes would've been had we not moved to Denver. I miss visiting Charles City and Greene where my Dad grew up. Last time was in I've never seen my birth town in the fall. Perhaps this coming fall! When is the peak coloring? Good luck with the flooding this year.
God bless you all. I was 16 in March of and have very vivid memories of the day of the tornado, May 15th. Around 4pm, I was at the junior high and had called my mother to come and pick me up. I had an armload of stuff and didn't want to walk home with it all. I normally would have been walking south down main street between 4: It was hard to breathe. The radio was talking about seeing funnel clouds. Not being very concerned, I stood outside watching the dark clouds.
Then it hailed and the hail stones were as big as baseballs! I grabbed a plastic bag and started collecting some to put in the freezer. Just then, mom said she thought she heard a train and we could hear a distant rumble and roaring. We crept up the stairs to find our home still standing. Our front door hadn't latched properly so that it blew open and the livingroom curtains were all twisted Fox was with a church group out at Wildwood when a neighbor informed her of the incoming storm.
In the small space, Fox and her group — which included two of her own children, daughter DeDi, 4, and son Dave, 5 — crammed into a corner in an effort to best avoid a hazard on the other side of the room. I yelled for DeDi and they yelled back for me, and even though we were on top of each other, we had to scream to hear each other. Dixie realized Dave was left facing the window under the pile.
She positioned herself the best she could to block flying debris. Dave was uninjured after the tornado blew apart the window.
Eventually, Dixie had to have glass hand-picked out of her back. However, she first realized the gravity of the situation when she walked towards her home on Cedar Street. I remember being outside that day for gym class and the weather was unseasonably hot.
My girlfriend, Norma Ridder, and I were planning on coming to Charles City after school and my mother said there were storm warnings out and we could not go. We were upset, but glad we listened to her. After the storm passed, I remember trying to get into town with my family and checking on my grandmother who lived on Salzer Street. We were stopped and asked where she lived and being told that that part of town had not been hit and that she was safe.
My other grandparents were not so fortunate. Heine and Emma Mohring lived north of town and their entire farm was hit, the only building left was the house. Gone were the chicken houses where I had gathered eggs, the red barn where I played in the hay loft, the grainery where I had a play house, and the rest of the buildings so familiar to my childhood.
Grandma had watched the barn go and then headed for the root cellar for safety. My memories include the stillness, the hail and the rain.
The following days and months were of disbelief that the town we had known and knew so well was gone forever and all that was left were our memories of how it was before the storm. As for the prom, it did go on, just as our lives did.
Graduation day came and went in the following weeks. At the age of 25, Jim Hilgendorf plunged right into the middle of the carnage that followed the tornado. As a member of an ambulance crew, Hilgendorf and Wes Banks were out on a call when the tornado was bearing down on Charles City. They got to a basement before the twister passed through, but when they re-emerged they had work to do.
Hilgendorf and Banks drove the ambulance down Gilbert Street until they reached the courthouse. The ambulance crew maneuvered their vehicle across the river to offer aid. While at the hospital, things were thrown into a frenzy. That night, Hilgendorf and Banks worked about extra hours, and dealt with a variety of injuries. I survived the Charles City May 15, tornado and feel very lucky to have done so. This event so traumatized me that I can vividly remember it today like it was just yesterday and probably will for the rest of my life.
I was 15 at that time and a paper carrier for the Charles City Press who later covered my story once the paper office was back up and running again.
I'm not sure of that date, but have an original copy of it in my scrapbook. My route was the Cedar Terrace apartments on the south side of the river. That day was very unusual, very hot and humid and nothing like normal Iowa that time of year was.
I was dreading running my delivery route because of the heat but I had a job to do and was going to get it done. I left the junior high around 3: I had waited a little more than a year to get this route. There were 18 quadruplex buildings with 72 units in a two block area, a paperboys dream route. That afternoon I hung around the paper office talking with the other carriers while folding my papers. This was a departure from my normal routine, but I wanted to do some money collecting and needed to wait for some of my customer's to arrive home from work.
I finally got started on my route around 4: I ran the Greeless Circle, or west part of the complex first and then moved to the eastern, or Kneisel Circle portion, of the route next. At around quarter to 5, I was riding my bike and working the western side of Kneisel Circle when it began to rain very hard.
I stopped my bike at apartment 49 to wait out the rain. These apartments had a small covering over each door and this is where I sought refuge. It didn't stop raining, instead, it started to rain very hard and then hail stones the size of baseballs started to fall. They were smashing out car and home windows and cracking roofs and car metal all around me.
I knew this was a sign a very strong high level winds and I became frightened enough to open the apartment door I was waiting by and proceed inside to seek shelter. As I opened the door, I saw an elderly lady dressed in a nurse's uniform, Mrs. Hazel Burgess, pacing back and forth in the living room ringing her hands and repeating "oh my goodness, what should I do? I looked out the south-facing window and saw what appeared to be a solid dark gray wall of debris moving directly toward us.
For a moment, I stood there and watched as the southern portion of the Trowbridge market roof flew up and then crashed down onto the north end of that building while cars in the parking lot where shuffled as if dominos on a table.
I spotted a heavy oak drop-leaf table and commented to Hazel "I don't know about you, but I'm going to hide under that table and you should join me.
I was thinking that the center of the building was going to be sturdier and was going to be our best chance of surviving this. Even with the items removed from the top, the table was still very heavy. But tugging constantly, and assisted by my fear, I got it about halfway down the hall when the windows blew in. Hazel had been walking behind the dragging table and was in a state of panic, all of which I could hear and had been conscious of, but my focus was on getting this heavy table to a safe spot.
At that moment, I grabbed her and shoved her under the table and slid under myself. I looked up to see the walls sway in and out repeatedly and the roof began to disintegrate into thin air. Something hit me in the side of the face, so I put my hands over my head and tucked myself into a ball on my knees under the table. By this time, Hazel had grabbed my ankles and was squeezing then so tightly she was cutting off the circulation to my feet.
The sound was deafening and the mayhem lasted for what seemed an eternity. Then it just suddenly stopped. I lifted my head thinking it was over and something stuck me in the head again.
Evidently, it wasn't over; the center had just passed over us. I assumed the kneeling position again and the violence started again and lasted for another eternity.
When it finally stopped, I cautiously raised my head again and realized the entire roof, and most of the walls, were gone. The table was surrounded by debris and I felt completely beat up, but no blood anywhere and we were still alive. I crawled out from under the table and stood up. I watched the backside of the tornado moving north and realized I could see the mud bottom of the river, it had sucked all the water out of that section of the river!
The black wall continued to churn and move north as I saw the water rushing in from both directions to fill the void left in the river bottom. There was a very strange quiet directly afterwards. I could hear people yelling and crying out in pain all around me but my attention was caught by a whimpering that seemed just to my right. I climbed up the half section of wall to the adjacent apartment and spotted a lady with a very serious injury to her hand. I had noticed when I first entered the apartment that Hazel was wearing a nurse's uniform so I called out for her to help.
Being frail, Hazel replied that she couldn't get out of her apartment. So I began to explain the situation to her. She looked around and produced a section of cloth and instructed me on applying a tourniquet to this woman's arm.
I retrieved the cloth from her and completed the task of stopping the bleeding. I then stood and surveyed the area. As far as I could see in all directions, was nothing but devastation. I started to wonder about my house and family and became very concerned. I looked for my bike and found the front wheel sticking out from under a fallen brick wall.
Realizing this wasn't going to be an option, I told Hazel I needed to go home and find my family. She acknowledged my concern and told me to go, they would be fine as help was surely on the way. I ran the entire distance back to my house at Charles Street. When I arrived home, my sister was standing in the front yard crying but our house was undamaged and just like I had left it that morning.
My 13 year old brother showed up a few minutes later and my mother came running up to the house limping wearing one high heel shortly there after. We gathered there in the front yard and I realized all had made it through uninjured knowing my father was out of town that day. I was the worst of the group with an insulation and mud coating on one side of my body and several bruises, but no severe cuts and fine past that. I returned to Cedar Terrace the next day only to find one of the victims had been found in that same area.
At that moment, I realized just how lucky I really was to have made it through. My younger brother and I worked for the Civil defense for the next few weeks clearing roadways and helping wherever we were needed.
I lost my entire paper route that day and never got another one to replace it. Our family moved away from Charles City the next year and my family, or what survives today, is scattered to the four winds.
When it seemed to pass, Dad said he was going to check on our mother, who worked at Trowbridge Grocery Store Schueth Ace Hardware stands there now and see if anyone needed help. Dad meet up with one of the Grant brothers on the way and together they started to clear away fallen debris.
Grant's home had been damaged in the tornado but he was out helping remove heavy debris with his equipment from work. My mom remembers the gentleman coming in from the gas station and yelling the tornado was on it's way and to take cover! My mom announced over the PA system that the tornado was coming and for everyone to head to the basement. She also remembers all the flying merchandise in the store as she descended the stairs.
She had her glasses blown off and someone helped her find them in the debris on the steps. She also remembers being lifted off the ground as she went down the steps to the basement and just making it down there before it was all over!
My oldest brother, Steve had been at the high school for track and tried to get home. He decided to back track and go to where dad worked at the old highway commission building just off 8th Avenue and J Street. They put him to work manning the radios. As a whole, the town was very lucky we lost only 13 people when you look at the damage it caused in the homes, businesses, churches, schools, and the downtown area.
We could have lost a lot more lives if the tornado had come during the school hours also. It was amazing to watch everyone working together to help out their neighbors and strangers! When ever the weather turns really bad or dark there are still a lot of people who flash back to that day.
It has taken a long time for some of us to get over that nervousness and not be completely scared of storms. I was 11 years old and lived in New Hampton with my folks. After the tornado struck we had no way of knowing if they were okay and my mom was beside herself with worry. My brother and I stayed with other family members in New Hampton while mom and dad drove to Charles City to check on grandma and grandpa. It was evening by the time they got to town.
The National Guard initially would not let them into town but after some convincing did allow them through. My grandparents house was spared but they lost many beautiful trees on their street. They were very fortunate. My parents were visibly shaken from what they witnessed that night and the vision always stayed with them.
They said it was as if they had entered a war zone. It was the worst thing they had ever seen. I was 8 yrs.
Running across the street and into my grandparents basement, the roaring freight train noise followed by complete silence. The huge tree in our front yard across the street laying next to the house. We were among the fortunate that didn't suffer any significant damage. I remember laying on the floor in the dark that night listening to sirens and chainsaws.
To this day I get a little freaked out when the sky gets that awful green color. Life circumstances can change in an instant. On April 15, Elaine Mead went from a carefree high school senior to fearing for her life in under an hour. With the end of school looming, she was happily going about her daily routine, and chose to ignore some of the early weather warnings.
After completing her errands, Mead and her friend noticed that Main Street had cleared out and was eerily calm. They became nervous and started to leave town, going down Main Street and taking a left onto Gilbert. The edge of the tornado passed near enough to them to blow out windows in nearby buildings and uproot trees around them. Mead and her friend were able to head for the family farm west of Charles City without a scratch. The trees were all stripped and I remember seeing sizzling power lines on the ground.
It was dark and eerie and you could see emergency lights flashing. It was a warm and humid spring day. I was headed to Larson and Carr's attorneys office to sign the papers on my first house. I parked my Ford Starlinder in front of Doc Vollum's garage. We had been in the office, in the old Adrian Implement building less than 5 minutes when the secretary came in and said "it's coming".
We got under this huge oak conference table and watched the roof lift up and drop down. It sounded like a freight train was running over us. Later, we went out to see the used car lot across the street with cars twisted up in a pile. Around the corner where I parked the second story of Doc Vollum's had collapsed on my car crushing it to the ground as well as a Sears service van that had pulled in behind it the driver was killed. We walked to our new home on S. Iowa and hardly a branch was broken.
I'll obviously never for get that day. As I read through the post I recognized several names that sparked many memories. Barb Fuls I had forgotten you were so young back on May 15th. We later lived only a couple blocks away from each other, you and Larry on 18th Avenue and the Nygaards on 19th Avenue. May 15th, , 40 years ago, I was the mother of a 2 year old and expecting a new baby on May 30th. I had just returned from a medical appointment with Dr. Trefz and went to neighbors, Phil and Sharon Koenigs to get our son.
The weather was oppressive, hot windy and the sky was getting funny looking. Gene came home and was going to drive across the street and pick us up to all be together at out house. Phil was working late at White Farm.
As Gene backed the car into the Koenigs garage he saw the dirt rising and 18th Avenue being ravaged by the funnel. Sharon and I had taken the 3 kids to the basement and were waiting for Gene to get inside.
He had brought the dog and the dog refused to go into the basement. He let the dog go and made it to the basement in time to lean over and shelter the rest of us under the stair way. The roar was deafening and the noise of breaking glass and the screeching of nails being ripped from the timbers was all we could hear. Then there was silence, the awful silence. As Gene straightened up and looked up all he saw was clear sky.
The house was completely gone. All that remained of the Koenigs house was the stairway that we had taken refuge under. One by one Gene started looking us all over, Sharon had cuts, 5 month old Michael had cuts, Kevin was okay and I had a gaping wound in my right calf. Our car that was in the garage has a timber straight through it and where our house had stood was nothing.
In fact the whole neighborhood was gone. And still the silence! Getting to the hospital took 2 hours in and out of streets blocked by trees. Some of you may recall it had just been voted down. Once I was at the hospital and safe, Gene went to find our son. My stay at Charles City hospital was only a few hours, my injuries could not be handled in Charles City due to all the chaos. I was transported by ambulance to Mason City unbeknownst to Gene. While I am in surgery, Gene and Phil Koenigs hitch hiked to Stacyville to get Phils parents car, our cars were damaged.
We were alive, we had nothing but each other and at this point that was all that counted. On May 16th, 24 hours after the tornado we were blessed with a healthy baby girl, Mary Beth. Guess who turned 40 this year? People helping people, this is the lesson to be remembered along with the pain and memories. Dean Kline and his family took our family of 5, my sister came to assist with kids since I was in a cast for 3 months, into his home for almost 2 months, Milo Molitor and his family found us a place to live, the nursing staff at Mercy Hospital organized and gave us clothes and toys for the kids, The Koenigs Family in Stacyville helped with the clean up at the addresses on 19th Avenue, SBA financed our home so we could rebuild, Red Cross gave us a table and chairs, clothes.
Remember it is all we had. Faith, friends and an uncertain future lay ahead. Oh yes, the dog was found and went to live in Minneapolis with his former owner, My great Aunt Vivian from Milwaukee came to visit me in Mason City.
She was in Charles City for a funeral. We have 5 Grand kids and believe me they all know what bad weather looks like, they know to get their shoes and a jacket, stay calm and do what your parents say.
We will never forget that day nor will we ever forget those who helped us get back on our feet. Dean and Milo are no longer with us but we still have contact with their family members, those families that made us part of their family. Pass it on, it feels good! I was 10 the day the tornado hit Charles City. I will never forget that day nor will I ever fell safe when a storm brews up. Our house was located on Grand and 15th. We had an older two story home until the tornado hit. The tornado shitfted our house off its foundation, turned it, took one half and then left it.
My mom and us five kids were in the S. W corner of the basement, had we been in the N. E, we would not have been so lucky, that is where alot of the wreakage come in. My dad, made it to the bottom of the steps but with the force of the wind, he could not move. We were very blessed that day that we all survived monster.
My Dad drove a Comet back and forth to work and after the tornado, he found 3 different colored wigs in his car. And talk about never getting away from your bills, one of mom and dad's gas bills was found in the front yard of a reporter in Chatfield, MN about 80 miles form Charles City. The reporter got in touch with mom and dad and asked if she could come down and do a story on us, which she did, the story was on the front page of her hometown paper along with a picture of our house, oh and by the way, she also did returned the bill!!!
I also remember, my grandma T and three uncles from Il, came as soon as they heard about the tornado but were stopped just outside of the city limits by the National Guard, they had supplies with them such as blanekts, sheets, food ect. G know they were who they said they were. It was gut wrenching for them not knowing if we were alive, missing or among the dead.
I dont remember much of what Charles City looked like after the tornado except walking down the middle fo the road afterwards and needing to watch for live wires and hearing people crying and seeing our neighbor being carried out of her house on a door made as a strecher. As I was growing up, the smell of mud use to be one of the worst smells for me, I could not figure it out until I was talking with my mom and it dawned on me that smell was the smell right after the tornado When our kids were growing up, I was so afraid I would not be able to protect them from such a storm that I would make myself sick To this day, if the clouds get dark, my eyes are open to the sky and my phone calls start to my adult kids to make sure they are watching.
I will admit, I am a basket case when it comes to storms and I am very lucky that my family understands and dont fuss too much about the phone calls.
I had just celebrated my 12th birthday when the storm struck. My father, now retired, was an independent insurance agent in Charles City which brought the storm into our home for years after it struck.
As I recall, the spring of was very early. My guess is, spring was two and a half to three weeks ahead of schedule. May 15, was a Wednesday. I clearly remember having breakfast that morning.
It started sunny, windy and very warm. I would guess on my walk to Lincoln Elementary School, a distance of two blocks, the temperature at 8 AM was about 70 degrees and a strong southeast wind was at my back. May 15, was a big day in Charles City for all of the fifth and sixth graders. It was the annual grade school track meet which started at noon with a picnic, followed by the competition. This event was held at the College Grounds on Clark Street about a dozen blocks east of the area to be devastated five hours later.
Central, McKinley and Washington were destroyed, the first two never to reopen. I recall the wind switching to more of a southerly direction as the afternoon progressed and it got quite warm.
My guess would be it reached nearly 85 degrees and it was very muggy. Winds were very gusty and the running course at the College Grounds was laid out east to west.
We figured they did that because running to the south for kids of that age would have been hard that day. When the track meet was over, we walked back to Lincoln school with the wind at our back. It was warm and I remember getting to the school it had no air conditioning and all of the windows at the school were wide open.
I thought to myself, the student in K thru 4th must have roasted that afternoon and I was glad I had been outdoors. Classes ended shortly after PM then. We actually got back to the school about PM and got to leave early. My brother and sister had to stay and I thought that was pretty neat. I clearly remember walking two blocks home to Third Avenue where we lived.
It was warm, gusting winds and very muggy. It was sunny and hazy. It was the typical, after school cartoon program for kids our age to watch. I remember about PM they broke into the show and reported a tornado sighting near Hansell, Iowa in eastern Franklin County.
They reported the storm was moving northeast and people should pay attention to the TV. I have always been interested in the weather, so I quit watching the show and went outside.
I remember my sister, in the 4th grade at that time, yelling outside and telling me the TV said the tornado was by Marble Rock. My father and I stood outside and my mother, brother in 3rd grade and sister stayed inside the house. When my father pulled in the driveway, we stood there for just a few minutes looking at the sky.
It was getting black in the southwest. I remember looking straight up in the air and seeing these really strange clouds bulging down toward the ground.
Something I have seen since, but never quite the way these looked. Just a minute or two later, about PM it hailed. The size was enormous. I remember them coming down and splatting on our driveway and thundering off of my fathers International Scout. We ran up on the covered front porch which faced due west down Third Avenue. My father and I stayed on the porch and watched. As my father and I watched we notice the clouds twisting, rotating from the southeast to the northwest.
It was amazing to watch because there was very little breeze on the ground but still looked so violent. I thought it was leaves and sticks, but would realize later it was huge chunks of debris.
The wind then came up and blew very hard and we headed to the basement. I remember watching out a window that faced north and watching the tress move violently. The winds lasted a couple of minutes and then stopped. We went upstairs to find limbs and leaves strewn about.
I remember seeing a small hard Maple Tree on the Frudden property at the corner of 4th Avenue and G Street had blown over. I think about that tree every time I drive by that spot. Sally had three children in various locations all over town. You can imagine how his life changed as the provider of utilities to the community of nearly 10, When we reached the corner of Third and Grand Avenue, the steeple of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church had crashed down through the roof and left a huge hole.
It was about this time when everyone in our vehicle looked west toward downtown Charles City and we were aghast. It looked like a bomb had hit. All I remember is seeing horrible destruction, people wandering in shock and streets clogged with debris, live wires and silence…this huge mess and no noise.
Rice immediately feared for the life of her family. Some were located on the other side of the river and there was no way to walk or drive into the devastated area.
Her children had been invited to an outdoor birthday party. My father decided to drive east, then south and back west of Charles City. During the approximately 20 mile drive to travel about half a mile as the crow flies, I specifically recall another intense thunderstorm moving in from the southwest. I would guess this would have been about 6 PM. The sky was black and there was vivid lightning. It was still warm and muggy.
We reached the south side of Charles City and went to the hospital located on the south side of town. Upon arrival cars were wrecked all over the lawn, but amazingly the hospital received little damage, yet a farmstead a half mile or so to the south was flattened.
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