Birmingham, AL Deadly Tornado, Apr 1956


Birmingham, Ala. (UPI) -- The death toll rose to 21 identified bodies today as rescue squads searched through 150 smashed homes for victims of the vicious storm which struck a tiny suburb yesterday. Four persons were critically inijured.
A United Press survey showed the names of 21 of the dead. Five bodies were still unidentified in Negro funeral homes, but it was not known if they had been identified earlier at hospitals.
The National Guardplaced a heavy guard on the area, requiring all persons to carry an identification card.
Col. HENRY H. GRAHAM, commander of the 167th Infantry Regiment of the National Guard, in charge of military operations, said "we are still hunting for bodies but I believe they have all been accounted for."
McDonald's Chapel bore the brunt of a 450 mile squall front that raked the Southeast Sunday. A tornadic wind slammed through the heard of the mining community of 1,000, leaving a fourth of the residents homeless.
The houses looked like piles of timber in a lumber yard. Over a wider area homes were overturned or battered.
While the Red Cross sheltered some 400 persons in a Methodist church and in a union hall at nearby Easley, Ala., dozens of other survivors walked through the debris hunting relatives.
ROSCOE D. WHATLEY, Red Cross director, said the nightlong confusion was made worse by the fact that seven of the bodies were too mangled to identify.
A crew of 50 searchers forced their way into rooms buried under debris and pried up mounds of planks in their hunt for victims. They found one body draped in a tree.
None of the survivors saw the funnel of a tornado but their descriptions of a sudden roar and the wind lifting them through the air bore out the tornadic force of the storm.
EDDIE KING, a 45-year-old Negro who with his 17-year-old daughter was injured said he just "floated out" into the yard when the wind yanked his frame house from its foundations.
Severe thunderstorms with torrential rains, hail and wind clocked in gusts at near hurricane force hit Shreveport, La., Centreville, Ala., and Atlanta, Athens and Cumming, Ga.
Several homes were demolished at Cumming by what residents described as a tornado. Gusts up to 89 miles per hour felled hundreds of trees in Atlanta.

The Delta Democrat-Times Greenville Mississippi 1956-04-16