Milton, FL Tornado Strikes, Apr 1962

SAVAGE FORCE OF FLORIDA TORNADO SEEN.

Milton, Fla. (AP) -- The tornado which ripped through Milton and killed 15 persons may have been one of the most powerful ever to strike in this state.
Gov. FARRIS BRYANT and a group of city and county officials toured the stricken area Sunday and saw first hand how completely the Saturday twister devastated a residential area in this northwest Florida town.
BRYANT said he was appalled at the violent force of the winds, which in one area blasted a group of houses so thoroughly that the foundations couldn't be found.
For the width af about three blocks, the twister swept down every house and ripped every tree to shreds, leaving only bare tree stubs.
BRYANT said federal authorities were expected to begin assessing the damages today for possible assistance. The civilian defense organization and highway patrol have fixed a preliminary damage figure of $1.5 million.
The State Road Department planned to move in to clear debris from the storm area.
BRYANT flew over the seven-mile-long strip of wreckage in a Navy helicopter, then toured by automobile. He was high in praise of rescue operations and the feeding and housing of the refugees.
An estimated 1,200 relief workers, including 250 National Guardsmen and several hundred Navy men from Whiting Field, took part in the relief work.
The Guardsmen and highway patrolmen closed off the storm area to keep out sightseers and prevent looting.
Some residents returned, sad-faced and weeping, to poke through the ruins for small items of sentimental value.
The task of burying the dead gets under way today and will continue through the week. Individual funerals will be held except for GERTRUDE JOHNSON, 50 year old Negro woman, and her three children -- RICKEY, DEBRA and JESSIE -- who will be given mass burial Wednesday.
Some improvement was noted Sunday in the condition of RONALD HELMS, 25, and his 17-month-old daughter DEBORAH. They are in a Pensacola hospital. HELMS' wife and son, RONNIE, JR., were killed when their house was flattened.
Milton is about 30 miles northeast of Pensacola. Its. population in 1960 was 4,000 but recent annex ation upped that to about 10,000.

Stevens Point Daily Journal Wisconsin 1962-04-02