Anoka, MN Tornado, June 1939

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More Photos of the Anoka Tornado


Anoka, Minn. -- (UP) -- National guardsmen, police and volunteers under the personal direction of Gov. Harold E. Stassen today began clearing debris left by a tornado which struck this little Mississippi River town late Sunday, killing at least 9 persons and injuring more than 200.

A drizzling rain, which had been heavy immediately after the tornado hit, added to the problems of workers as they probed through a litter of wrecked buildings, uprooted trees and broken communication and power lines. Within a few hours after the twister struck, Stassen came here to assume full charge of caring for the injured and homeless and the work or rehabilitation.
Authorities believed all victims of the storm had been found. They said that a score of the injured were in serious condition and estimated that property damage would total at least $50,000.
Three hundred national guardsmen patroled the streets. The town, population 5,000, virtually was under martial law. A drastic 9 p.m. curfew kept the streets cleared during the night.

The tornado struck with sudden fury late Sunday near Corcoran, a village southwest of Anoka and several miles northwest of Minneapolis. It struck an automobile in which four Minneapolis persons were riding, tossed it 200 yards in a field, killing the occupants. It dipped again at the village of Champlin, killed one man and wrecked several homes. Then it swept into Anoka, killed five persons and cut a swath two to five blocks wide diagonally through the town. At least 50 square blocks felt the force of the storm.

With lessened force, the "twister" struck at Cedar, a few miles to the northeast, before dissolving.
In little more than five minutes the tornado had run its course -- leaving behind a scene of terrible confusion.

Authorities computed the list of dead as follows:
H. G. GROAT, 95, Anoka.
G. SYRING, Anoka.
LEE KIDD, 25, Ossee.
FRED ZIMMERMAN, 50, Champlin.
MRS. ANNA FREEMAN, 75, Minneapolis.
ELLEN FREEMAN, another daughter.

MRS. FREEMAN, her daughter and son-in-law were the group killed near Corcoran when the tornado crushed their car.

In Anoka, the armory, two churches, the Masonic temple, several business buildings and about 250 homes were destroyed or partially wrecked. Electric and telephone lines were a tangle of broken wires. At Champlin, eight houses were wrecked. At Cedar a church, a creamery, and four houses were destroyed, and a school was thrown from its foundation.

Immediately after the storm struck, appeals for aid were sent out via radio. Doctors, nurses, medical suppiles and ambulances rushed to the scene from Minneapolis and St. Paul. National guardsmen mobilized, and American Legionaires volunteered for police duty. Minneapolis sent two squads of police.

An emergency hospital was et up in the high school. The Anoka hospital was jammed with injured. They lay in hallways and on the floors of rooms.