Manson, IA Tornado Damage, June 1979

Algona IA Circa 1945 View Of Town.jpg Manson IA  Early Main Street photo.JPG


Manson, Iowa (AP) -- Tornadoes that raked the Iowa Plains wiped out neighborhoods and forced evacuation of a small town where two tanks holding a toxic chemical ruptured. Four persons were killed and about 70 others injured, authorities said.
About 40 twisters spotted Thursday night uprooted trees, knocked out power and telephone lines and ripped through homes and businesses in six communities in northern and central Iowa, officials said.
The National Guard was called out to help the two hardest hit towns, Manson and Algona, which had been preparing to start a week-long celebration of its 125th anniversary Saturday.
Tornadoes also were reported Thursday in Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado and Arkansas. Some damage was reported in those states but no deaths or serious injuries.
Four people were killed and about two dozen injured in Manson, officials said. Some 24 businesses and 100 homes were reported destroyed or heavily damaged.
Police Officer JOHN EWING said no homes were life in the area from downtown to the southeast edge of town. "It's just gone, clear out to the edge of town," EWING said. "The houses are gone."
HAROLD RICKLEFS, of rural Fort Dodge, rushed to Manson and had to dig his mother out of the rubble that was left of her kitchen.
"It's a mess, I'll tell you," RICKLEFS said as he surveyed damage in the farming town of 1,900 people. "It just flattened houses. The streets are all blocked."
In Algona, 40 miles to the north, twisters heavily damaged a shopping center and a 100-square block area. Ten persons were hospitalized with injuries and 35 others were treated and released, officials said.
Also hit by a twister was Renwick, 30 miles northeast of Manson. Some 420 residents were evacuated when two tanks holding anhydrous ammonia -- a fertilizer -- ruptured and released toxic fumes.
One tank later sealed itself and a second 25,000 gallon tank was sealed. The residents began returning home early today, the highway patrol reported.
Lt. Gov. TERRY BRANSTAD, National Guard, State Patrol and Disaster Services officials were to visit the area today. A spokesman said Gov. ROBERT RAY may be called back from Romania where he is on a tour with the National Governor's Association.
Police in Webster City, 30 miles east of Manson, reported that several farms were destroyed in a tornado path 10 miles long just northeast of the city.
Damage was reported in houses in Dawson in central Iowa. A half dozen trailer homes were destroyed in DeSoto in Dallas County and a supermarket was destroyed in Goldfield.
Tornadoes destroyed three homes and damaged 19 others and a church in south-central Minnesota and left the town of Mountain Lake cut off with roads closed and power lines down.
A tornado damaged homes, barns and downed power lines in Arkansas. The state's Highway 95 was closed for several hours after high winds littered it with tree limbs and power lines.

Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1979-06-29


I lived in Manson when the

I lived in Manson when the tornado hit. I remember it was very hot and humid. I took my 4 year old daughter and 2 month old son to the water tower park hoping for some cooler air. We walked back home, when my mother in law called out to get in the house a tornado was heading our way.I just about didn't believe her because there was no rain,hail or even any wind.Her fright was enough.The tornado hit the town, the sound was terrible.The air was non existent through it, as if the tornado sucked all the air away.The grain elevators in the center of town temporarily seemed to stop it from getting to the other side of town. It just lifted and went over our block and hit the cemetery.Watching the tornado leave it was white and with the sun shining,there were things glittering inside of it, and things were dropping all over.I remember all the damage to the town. One wall still stood for the gym with a clock on it from the middle school.Many houses were just leveled.It looked like a war zone. I thank the heavens we made it through safe, I know others did not. My nightmares still happen, just not as many.

My dad had almost died here

My dad had almost died here