IN THEIR OWN WORDS
'I wasn't prepared for what I saw'
MEMORIES OF THE 1974 TORNADOES
Monday, March 31, 2014 11:00 AM
The day of April 3, 1974, will always be stamped on my memory.
(Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
I worked at King's Daughters' Hospital at the time, and at 3 p.m. when I got off work many of us commented on the heat for April.
There was an eerie quietness. No birds singing and no breeze. I lived in Trimble County but was directly across from Hanover.
When we heard on the radio about the tornado we looked across to the hills in Hanover. We could see it swirling and the funnel. We could even see the debris in the air.
Then we heard it had hit Madison and there was a lot of damage and injuries.
I called the hospital and they said to come in as there were casualties and injuries.
When I arrived at the hospital it was a beehive of activity. People bleeding waiting for treatment, frantic families looking for loved ones and all of the hospital employees helping to triage the injured.
At this time very few people under the hill knew of the damage on the hill, or the extent of it.
We worked until nearly dark before things calmed down. One of the nurses who lived in Dupont couldn't get in contact with her family and I volunteered to take her home. Not knowing what was on the hill.
We drove up Michigan Road Hill. We weren't prepared for the destruction. It was a battle zone. Houses in ruin. Automobiles turned over. Trees uprooted. I wasn't prepared for what I saw.
After I took her home, I knew my husband was coming to see about his brother and family, so I drove to Montclair Street where they lived. A big truck blocked the street, so I walked to their house. I found out they were safe.
My sister-in-law hid in a closet with her four young children. She said she could hear boards hitting the door and the house breaking up around them. The youngest of the children for many years afterward would hide when she heard a storm was coming.
I heard one man say when the tornado hit the switchboard at IKE, he could see the bottom of the river.
There were so many people that had miraculous escapes, but also too many deaths and injuries.
But as in all disasters the people work together and survive. The whole community showed their love and compassion for their neighbors.