Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Kalamazoo tornado

Today is the 30th anniversary of the May 13, 1980 tornado in Kalamazoo - a day I remember well. I lived in an apartment a few blocks from downtown at the time and had friends visiting from out-of-town when the tornado hit. We were aware that a tornado warning had been issued that day but didn't take it too seriously. Growing up in Michigan we'd been through plenty of tornado warnings.

When it started to rain I headed out to roll up the windows on my car, but changed my mind when I saw the strange yellow tinge to the sky. I went back inside. "Don't they say a tornado sounds like a freight train?" My friend said, just as we heard that sound.

When the tornado passed we headed downtown to see the damage. Everything was covered with dirt and glass. Debris was still falling from buildings.

Everyone was walking around in a daze. The park in the middle of town looked like a salad of fallen trees. It was an unforgettable sight.

How eerie the ISB building looked with all it's windows blown out

The tornado killed five, injured 79, and caused 50 million dollars in damage.

I'm still so sorry I didn't grab my camera when we headed downtown that day. But here are some photos I found on a site called Vanished Kalamazoo. They sure brought back memories of what that day was like.


maggie's garden said...

I remember seeing this on the news. Looks awful...hope that never happens again any time soon. Glad you weren't hurt. Those photos probably don't even show the half of the mess I suppose.

Marti said...

I remember that so well -- I was living in Grand Rapids, but my family was in Kazoo County. We heard about the tornado but I couldn't get through on phone lines for hours. (no email 30 years ago). We had a neighbor who was in the bank 10 minutes before all the windows blew out. Heard a story about another guy who was driving his car and then - he was "parked" in the bedding department on Gilmore's 5th floor. Freaky.

G'G'ma said...

I remember seeing all that on news. WOODTV has been talking about it all week. They've had photos and people talking about their memories. Hope I never have to go through something like that.

willow said...

Oh, how awful. I don't remember this at all. I am terrified of tornados! Thank goodness you made it through safely.