Various Towns, AL Terrible Tornado Outbreak, Apr 1974
DESTRUCTION IN ALABAMA -- HUNDREDS INJURED IN STATE.
From wire reports.
Killer tornadoes hopscotched around North Alabama during the night, one after the other for hours, leaving a wake of death and destruction which won't be fully determined for days.
Jittery residents of the northern half of the state waited this morning under an extended tornado watch and dark clouds as rescue and clean-up efforts were carried out in hardest-hit areas.
Death was extensive and widespread after a night of horror brought about by the collision of a cold front with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico.
Property damage was incalculable in the first hours after the twisters.
Communications to some cities were snapped.
The death toll was put at 72 and was expected to climb as harried officials continued the grim and difficult task of counting victims.
Hundreds more were injured.
Hospitals were crowded with storm victims having to wait in some cases for hours for bandages and other medical help.
The suffering counties were Marion, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Winston, Cullman, Walker adn Fayette, encompassing a wide area of the northern tier of the state.
Officials listed the fatality toll as 16 in Marion County, most of those in Guin; 18 in Lawrence, most in Moulton; 14 in Limestone, most in Athens; 14 in Madison, most in Huntsville; four in Winston and one each in Cullman, Walker and Fayette.
A tornado watch remained in effect until late morning in North Central Alabama and was posted for most of South Alabama until afternoon.
About 540 Alabama National Guardsmen were called out to help with rescue and cleanup work and to prevent looting in Jasper, Cullman, Moulton, Athens, Berry, Guin, Russellville, Florence and Decatur.
Thunderstorms with drenching rains rumbled across much of the state during the night and morning hours, filling streams with rushing water.
Hail fell. Dogs howled because of the weird atmospheric conditions.
Citizens all across the area became tense as the tornado warnings continued for hours and as reports of twisters piled up.
Many people in areas that were not hit stayed awake during the night listening to radios and to the wind, hoping and praying their homes would be spared.
The state Civil Defense director, C. J. SULLIVAN, and Adjutant Gen. CHARLES A. ROLLO, head of the Alabama National Guard, left Montgomery by helicopter to survey the damaged areas. SULLIVAN was to report his findings to Gov. GEORGE C. WALLACE.
One twister tore apart buildings in downtown Jasper but mercifully bypassed the residential section of the Walker County seat. The courthouse was extensively damaged. It was left leaning and was considered unsafe.
Radio announcer JOEL COOK of WARF, Jasper, said: "We can't talk to the Police Department -- it just blew away."
The Fire Department had just returned from a call when the three men in the building heard a roaring noise, ran across the road and took cover in a drain culvert.
The building was demolished, along with seven pieces of equipment.
Police and fire communications were set up in a house trailer in the downtown area, which was cordoned off.
Also in Jasper, JOHN SIMMONS said he and six members of his family heard the storm's noise and before they could take cover, their house was lifted off its foundation, banged around between two rows of trees in the yard and set back down. They all escaped injury.
The Weather Service abandoned its station at the Huntsville-Madison County Jetport at one point during the evening because of an approaching twister that minutes later destroyed several airplanes at the airport.
Huntsville itself was hit in at least five places. There was an acute shortage of blood until supplies arrived from Birmingham.
A hospital spokesman said some patients were taken to a motel in downtown Huntsville.
Near Mounton in Lawrence County, PHILLIP OWENS, his wife ALPHA and four teen-age children were killed.
MR. and MRS. AL JONES, operators of an ambulance service, drove two new ambulances toward a demolished trailer park near Athens but had to abandon the vehicles which were destroyed seconds later by another twister.
At Decatur, winds blew over a 270-foot tall stack used to burn waste gas at the Amoco Chemical Plant. Flames shot high in the air until the gas could be cut off.
Prayer services were under way at Alta Baptist Church near Jasper when a tornado hit the small church, killing the pastor, the REV. HOUSTON BRAND. About 30 people were in the church, most were hurt.
ALABAMA'S TORNADO DEAD LISTED.
By The Associated Press.
Here is the list of known dead, provided by Civil Defense and state trooper authorities, as a result of tornadoes and severe weather in Alabama:
HOWARD CALVERT, Marion County.
VIRGINIA DALE CALVERT, Marion.
MAGGIE FISHER, Marion.
JOHN EDWARDS, Marion.
WINNIE ELLIS GILMORE, Marion.
JAN BROWN, Marion.
VIRGINIA BROWN, Marion.
JOSEPH E. SHIREY, Marion.
EMMET SHIREY, Marion.
MRS. EMMET SHIREY, Marion.
WILLIAM P. TODD, Marion.
MARK TODD, Marion.
MRS. GEORGE BAIRD, Marion.
JIMMY HERRON, Marion.
MARY HARP, Marion.
PRESTON MARTIN, Marion.
BILLY JOE BROWN, Marion.
ROBERT PENNINGTON, Marion.
JIMMY SUE BALLARD, Marion.
ROSA BURLESON, Marion.
OLIVER MARK TIDWELL, Marion.
HOWARD GREEN, Marion.
VIRGINIA GREEN, Marion.
BEN F. GIBBS, Madison County.
GIBBS Child, Madison.
GOLDIE FLETCHER, Madison.
MRS. GURLEY, Madison.
MRS. NANNIE MOORE, Madison.
MRS. RUBY WILLIAMS, Madison.
MRS. PATSY LOVELL, Limestone County.
MRS. RUTH McGLOCKLIN, Limestone.
SANDRA McGLOCKLIN, Limestone.
MRS. CLIFFORD SMITH, Limestone.
MRS. NOBIE RUFFIN, Limestone.
MRS. LUCILLE CAIN, Limestone.
THOMAS L. CAIN, Limestone.
MRS. ANNAISE GREEN, Limestone.
BILLY BLANKENSHIP, Lawrence County.
MRS. LOVINIA BLANKENSHIP, Lawrence.
AUDREY SUE LATHEM, Lawrence.
PHILLIPS OWENS, Lawrence.
MRS. ALTHEA OWENS, Lawrence.
PHYLLIS OWENS, Lawrence.
JERRY OWENS, Lawrence.
GLINDA OWENS, Lawrence.
BUDDY OWENS, Lawrence.
WINFRED GLOVER, Lawrence.
MRS. MARILYN BRACKINS, Lawrence.
ELLA MAE POKE, Lawrence.
SHARON LETSON, Lawrence.
BERNARD LETSON, Lawrence.
RICKY LETSON, Lawrence.
LIZZIE GUINETT, Winston County.
JIM HENDERSON, Winston.
IDELLA BERRY, Winston.
RAY CAGLE, Winston.
REV. HOUSTON BRAND, Walker County.
The Star Anniston Alabama 1974-04-04