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KNSS Radio>Audio & Video on Demand>>Episode 26: December Disaster!

Episode 26: December Disaster!

Dec 1, 2016|

‘They had always said Vicksburg would never have a tornado because of the river’ – But it did on December 5, 1953.   The tornado event began around 5:31 PM just west of the Mississippi River in E. Madison Parish.  The tornado passed through downtown Vicksburg around 5:35 PM.  The total path length ...

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Hi this is Dan from tornado talked. Please take a moment to go to our website tornado talk dot com and click support the show on the menu. As you know we offer this podcast three but it is not free to produce. We accrue monthly cost including writing researching recording editing in producing. If you click the donate button on that page you can help us underwrite the cause that's tornado talk dot com. Click the support the show on the menu and you'll see to donate button and thank you in advance. Yeah this is a tornado. Asked about one of nature's most fascinating phenomenon to share your Tony news story with us by email Jenin Dan act tornado talk dot com. Yeah and dance at tornado doc dot com. Now meteorologist. Jennifer near Moore and Dan Holliday tornado touched is on you might save it 1953. Was a simpler time yeah. Yeah. Now on the new book heroes. There's doubt there have you it cereal bowl with the live takes a lot of sugar frosted like. Pour a little milk or cream. And again that's all there is too. America is drinking Coca-Cola. Children eight frosted flakes cereal Dwight. Looking back it was a simpler time. The spreading information during a time of need wasn't easy and residents of Vicksburg Mississippi found that out firsthand. On several tornados slashing their way across the south strikes historic Vicksburg Mississippi you Vicksburg has been proclaimed a major disaster area. And federal aid is being rushed. This is tornado talking December disaster he historical review of what happened on December 5 in 1953 in Mississippi. At 5:31 PM a large tornado touched down just west of the Mississippi River and eastern Madison parish. Four minutes later it had torn through downtown Vicksburg killing 38 and injuring 27012100. People were homeless. Chad on Vermont is the science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in Jackson Mississippi. He recalls the atmosphere setup that produced a series of tornadoes on a Saturday afternoon on the fifth day of December. The conditions that they were fairly typical wolf we can get in this region when there is severe weather. You oftentimes in the cooler months school's season. It's it's hard to distinguish between that it tornadic environment for. Just severe weather area that's what people would say just don't like tornadic weather but. The description of how the weather wasn't forehand from accounts or even looking at the some of the weather toward that we do you have that it was a very typical setup for. Severe weather beginning part of the blue the winter down here in the in the south. Temperatures were in the fifties and an even from the area in the forty some kinda cool because. There was a really. Strong boundary separating the the really warm humid unstable air to us out. And south of the warmth from what happens is supposed to really powerful disturbance coming out of there the mountains and that is the way it was oriented. It really helped to pull that front northward as a warm front and really push north really humid air for early December. You know a lot of times and Miro just we talk about the dew point. I think earlier that day it started off in the forties. So those are cool to mention but. Once the war front lifted north the dew points easily get into the middle and upper sixties now that's substantially higher for the month of December. Wasn't overly warm temperatures for Reno lower seventies may be the middle seventies to the few locations. But you don't really need a whole lot of really warm temperatures to key it was very humid the dew point gets really warm. To wind shifted out of you know from the east and it turned around and became the southeast and south. And with that strong disturbance kind of lifting. Out of Iraqis in and across complained that really helped developed a nice circus slow let that helped pull that formed from northward during the day ended list. To sort of northwest in the group of our region. And I just kind of set the stage for. Organizations thunderstorms and then ultimately. Into the ingredients. All came together strong wind shear. We don't have enough purse sounding to get a really good gauge of our own stable the year was you get a lot of wind energy and you had to at least efficient and stability developing. And again it doesn't take all that much when you have. Yeah I do points. At that time of year. While it was warmer than normal the last thing anyone in Vicksburg had on their mind was preparing for a tornado. There was Christmas shopping to be done for residents would lined the streets for an afternoon parade. There's also a charity football game scheduled as a benefit for jet high school's Leo packets. He was a football player who became paralyzed after suffering a spinal injury any game the event that night we never happen. Officials at the US Weather Bureau issued a statement around 130 in the afternoon alerting the public the tornado producing conditions what exist. 54 in the afternoon the first tornado touched down north of rust in Louisiana a potentially hitting the town of spears bill. Even though tornadoes can occur any time during the year most who wouldn't have expected in early December but due to an urban legend many believed a tornado we'd never hit their town. Marie you're not had lived in Vicksburg almost her entire life I had allies say that Vicksburg we're never had a torn item because the river. So nobody is. Chad Altamont the National Weather Service says miss like that one didn't die in the 1950s. They are alive and well today and really in those also continue to this day ever since I guess the weather service. Death. Worked in places that have fairly glory to rivers and people always said all of by the river are going to be protected from any any big tornado. Or any tornado warning in general and it seems like it it doesn't take her all along that there is some impact of tornadoes to news. Across the river and swipe away that does falsehood. Afternoon in 1953 to tornado survived it stripped across the river just southwest of downtown roared through Divx or railroad. Getting the warehouse company and other businesses. Rosie Coleman can vividly remember the weather conditions as a tornado approached. It was rain ended the inning with stocks. End the week came over our house still strong but he's been damaged valves. Book it was you know all in all want. So don't go son a wish and Daley was stopped raining real hawk. Indeed it would stop the mean wind will blow but. It was a very dramatic Tamil manulife. Patsy Joseph Clark to Vicksburg resident was staying with her grandparents when they heard the twisters howling winds Al. Get close to land close to land so. Got up to close them when they're voted them and they'd stay at and when I reached out to gay English. It just happened I mean it's sad that the train is gonna come through the hash out. And any just blew me back home the bay and that I wasn't heard because it's Saturday. The thing the van and neighbors OK aiming at me and a couple of minutes and then that rail plans to. It championing. Hadn't silent down my grandmother and she. Was heard bad things that man that can ask them. And my grandfather wasn't hurt. And he got ran. In the wall in the that he had a battle flags. You know eating ham flank each night to night and saying it's the end lacking in net. And you snow ran black hat and dawn. It was page Latin calling band and I. Let people in Vietnam and try and do you say others everybody. Was. Willie into hail and be it India need to plan. Please sabathia. Buford Evans says time has an erase how clearly he can picture what happened on that December as well as for us today was just pretty much an all day that afternoon. My family and that my dad my mom and my brother and sister always took place don't go wings saying grocery. Lou Chinese growth throughout history where we live we live don't farmer traded to tan. And now to grow distorted. The core farmer free and open wound which is now Martin Luther King boulevard creator what are the college. And now we were there and my dad went out to just throw cigarette out front door. And me through the cigarette he came back he said everybody get out of your compass tornado. Well. He grabbed a street kid and threw us on the floor and covered us with a trench coat and it was between one of these old. Meet. Refrigerators thank with a glass front that you could look through and pick out what you wanted and the storm. Inadequate comedy check back kind of an eyewitness account and he covered us my mother want to deceive what it was. Because she would nosy. City. Tornado came to about that time and there was a place that I have won an affront that she would consume but I just came down a couple of hours. And back in those days. Cigarette case you were. Middle class action handgun and it was nowadays it would be over a work of art but then it is a cigarette case. And she was under there. The tornadoes chef came. In the blink of an act that was no knowledge no sound and always good savers back. Everybody was milling around trying to find what was going on. We go my mom out got her to the car we were vacant. Other folks out. And they told me that there was one lady that in the end but. We didn't stay around that do anything else my dad got us and well gotten a car. We had just got actually covered usually covers only old Chevrolet. Did sit. Maine back on it she should know how to vote on the scene coverage. So she set forward we went the wrong way on Monroe street where the old mercy hospital was it's now the back of Crawford creek United Methodist Church. And now we went up there and got her hand and they took us upstairs. And I can remember. Looking out over the city of Vicksburg north. And it was like watching going with a win when Atlanta burn it we're far everywhere. And that's the memory in my mind. As the tornado left behind damage every one knew someone who have been affected. A rerun Dodd was no difference. My husband fall color. Was trapped in the Mississippi hardware company. Which was right damn straight out of the corner of Washington as south strike. And I think she's was not risky until about a 30% that night I don't recall ever being a private storms before the tone. Changed drastically after play holly sites and her boyfriend had planned a Saturday night out on the town I was a student nurse at Lutheran hospital. School of nursing. And the hospital it's located Fineman Norah are straight. The nursing home. Backs up from cherry street almost a month round. I was taken a shower getting ready to go and date with my boyfriend. And someone came in the back door that nursing home instead. Every one report to the hospital immediately. The lights all announced it was dark is sickening. And we all started running down the little LA and then someone from the hospital screened out or from barrier. Notice to go back and put our uniform sounds so we went back and invest in uniform and when we got today's hospital. Doctor Kirk steady case Kirk's was done. Already triage and every one that was injured. And he sips. It's different students to different areas in gave him a responsibility. And I remember so clearly that we had six. Young people it's with acute polio and they were in an iron on all the electricity was gone homes. By the time we got to the fourth floor where they were. Men had coming in to the emerging agreement brought injured in everything. And they were people land up to keep those kids a flat. And it. We had. Co long layoffs we had a few. Kendall. And they operated doctor when NH Parsons operated all night long. Doctor mobile or fixed a lot of broken bones that night and it was the most. It's awesome. Thing for me to see as a very young student and ours how these gentlemen who were doctors. Could be so calm and it can do so much for those that were injured that was for audience. One of the children of the singer theater with Stephanie Mitchell her tenth birthday was on December 5 1953. Since her sister also had a birthday in the coming days their parents invited the girls and their friends to see the movie but need day. After dropping off the kids her father George returned home while Lily and her mother who is seven months pregnant would stay at the theater. The singer was located directly in the twisters pass. As a tornado got closer power went out to an along collapse causing the ceiling and strain to come crashing down and five children all under ten years old died inside the theater. The Mitchell family got out alive and Lillian she was taken to an attorney Warren richest three days later she gave birth to a baby girl. It is hard to imagine how those inside the theater wouldn't have known a damaging tornado was headed their way. Chris on jamaat the National Weather Service says the technology in 1953 was nowhere near what it is in the modern era. We live in the in the world now where we always have information right from this and everything it's it's it's kind of hard for us to gauge just. 4057. Years ago how much different. Communication on this end and injustice. People talk about what we didn't expect anything coming. So much different than we're used to now let's at that time news. Weather forecasting. And especially to have forecasting severe weather and tornadoes it was a at its infancy. Nowadays people are very very rare tornado watches and tornado warnings and I didn't clear warnings didn't exist that you had some bullets in the blues essentially like a tornado watch that something more familiar with today but so they. At radio was a major source for news and information that evening and make comments it was a senior car central high school and on the air at WQBC. As an announcer. I ATM emergency power had been restored to their equipment. And they stayed on the air day and night for the next four days to keep people today it's Buford Evans and his family were listening. There's a lot of places in Vicksburg if we're. Destroyed my and I am mile course of the corps of engineers. And he in my hand who are barely five feet tall when move radio portable radios if you can column portable then because it probably weighed as much as she did. To help everybody pulled together I heard a lot of harsh storage. Different things and different people around half. Part one of the yeah. People who live. Down the road from when we first food Vicksburg. Had Paris twins and one of the twins was killed in the old Sanger theater. And they tell me that it only jacket one year to today. The other twin mr. we'll have been a nightmare. Many many harsh George isn't. For the longest time after that Monday it would grab us as Scott turned dark you grab us and we go to the basement of the post office which is safe it's pretty safe place. And what did it from it was. Make me hate to run. Away and pageant. If you were to estimate the damage in today's economy he would equate to about 200 million dollars in losses. Chris on Vermont the National Weather Service says a tornado was classified as an F five. The worst he retraced the tornadoes beginning and. Again you know initial we have it's starting. Based on all the accounts is it it's just kind of southwest of the city of Pittsburgh on the other side of the river. A little community called delta. And that's really where the only population was in it if you can follow old further back you know looking at the map. These two have been following the track that we do have. Essentially there's this thing take it could have been on the ground and in started. Much further back it just but he went for such a rural area who knows exactly you know how much of the track was miss but essentially when inserted impacting. People was around the community of delta in in Louisiana just west or southwest of Pittsburgh on the western side of the Mississippi River are crossed. The Mystic River and basically made a direct hit into downtown Pittsburgh. And lifted in it was kind of moving into north north east. Fashion and lifted right through downtown. It did lifted before it crossed highway 61. There was really essentially kind of concentrated. Right around the city there overall that the path. It based on the documentation is is seven miles long. And it was it was a pretty wide tornado property George. It back in the majority of the building were well do brick structures and when did you ever really powerful tornado go through that and and you can just look at some of the pictures we did we found that have posted. I mean it really. Cause significant damage to you know to Horton. Who will be town there. Straight image of many years to to recover and in you know and build those things back up. I'm in here it's a life changing event in the anytime you lose one like that the community and unfortunately they're meant tornado that works. No 38 brutalities it be in early December before the holidays very content of that region. Agencies and organizations from across the region came to Vicksburg how Ollie Sikes as a response was enormous when the National Guard. Our gaming and never about 200 album we had raised about sixty assigned to our hospital. Had they set up a field hospital outside. By the emergency room. And while that morning the next morning called we had to serve our patients and there were a lot of Chilean on the floor in the hallways everywhere. But coast area. And that's what we surf coast Syria with sudden they have until they already out assistance was. Also needed for those affected by another tornado nearby that would do F three damage to beat minute Montrose tornado that was their three combat wounded impact. And some. Parishes in a county in our our service area essentially it's an area it's there just sort of northwest of the big bird and bat when it occurred a little bit before. I don't know beat you didn't deter tornado the big men. Montrose tornado looks like it started around 5 o'clock. In the afternoon. We in the Pittsburgh one story that 530. So lit into this is pretty typical with. With a big tornado the events that you'd you'd have multiple storms could produce big tornadoes in the can be very. Close proximity in timing. And minutes seem to be chase. You know that particular day. David Dabney was eleven years old on the day it is expert took a direct hit from a tornado down he and his family one is to do anything they could to help storm victims turns out western union didn't have enough workers to deliver telegram's. David said he plastered over western union sign on his bicycle and spent three days taking between fifty and 100 telegrams to those in the devastated areas. Volley Sykes is thankful she chose the line of work she did because it allowed her to provide help. During one of the most critical times of her life. I didn't save my husband borrow our my boyfriend for about four days because we were Berkett. Fourteen hours yes you know it's always hate and job. Eight have so many stories of the detail because he was down they're big in those kids out for one thing. That job. Park I was so impressed with the depression that I had chosen me as how well it worked. Those who witnessed the tornadoes say they'll never ever forget ads. 11 man who nearly lost her life was forever changed the grateful to be alive and she was Buford evans' mother the doctor should it. She was the worst curtain on an incarnate that survived that she was crushed and in the period of the next. Point five years. She had 38 surgeries. And her face was distorted and but she didn't it didn't bother getting letters short path and for those who were just children at the time he feels like December 5 1953. Was just yesterday. And he guys shears was nine years old that day. It was an expression changed his craft itself do you see. Colombo are going through prayer used to treat coach who want to bear and ultimately got so dark and provide. We like to thank the National Weather Service in Jackson Mississippi for providing us he's personal accounts that were gathered in 2013. Am. For the sixtieth anniversary of the expert tornado. Next on tornado topped the greatest gifts anyone can provide in time of tragedy is love and support. The story of one organization and he turns the thrill of tornado chasing it into aid and recovery for victims and their past. Plus the 2015 around Lance and Garland Texas late December twisters. Texas tornadoes on episode 27 of tornado shock.

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