Mount Clemens, New Baltimore, MI Tornado, May 1964


Mount Clemens, Mich. (AP) -- Eleven persons were killed and more than 100 injured late Friday when a tornado that roared like a giant vacuum cleaner swept across southeastern Michigan.
Gov. GEORGE W. ROMNEY immediately left the Republican State Convention at Grand Rapids on the other side of the state to go to the disaster area.
Macomb County Sheriff LESTER A. ALMSTADT, who gave the death toll, said the twister smashed area was about two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.
"There is very heavy destruction," he added.
ALMSTADT said the search for bodies had been discontinued until Satruday morning.
The tornado appeared to have hit with the most force in Chesterfield Township, a residential area that lies between the southeastern Michigan cities of Mount Clemens and New Baltimore. All the dead were believed to have lived in the township.
ALMSTADT said the devastated area looked from the air as if a giant had stamped on it again and again.
Macomb County's civil defense director, CLEM W. SKIBA, said, "for a rough guess there are at least 200 homes that were pretty thoroughly demolished," SKIBA estimated at least 300 other homes were damaged but not destroyed.
SKIBA said he saw the tornado as it swept down on the area. He said "it bounced around, up and down, moving west to east."
Gov. ROMNEY left Grand Rapids by plane with three of his aides for Selfridge Air Force Base near Mount Clemens.
The base is just off Lake St. Clair, north of here. A housing area on the edge of the base suffered heavy damage. The base is about 20 miles from populous Detroit which was not hit by the twister although the metropolitan area was swept by fierce rain and winds.
Only two of the dead were identified immediately. They were MRS. BARBARA FORTON, 29, and SUSAN WESTFALL, 7, both of Chesterfield Township.
MRS. FORTON was identified by her husband, WAYNE, 33, who said the twister demolished his home and injured four small children, though none seriously.
FORTON, a truck driver, was not at home when the tornado struck.
"I was driving home," he said. "Then I saw the destruction. I ran to my house and it wasn't there anymore.

Mount Clemens (AP) -- Here is a list of identified dead in the tornado which struck southeastern Michigan Friday night:
Her daughter, LOUISE, 8 years old.
Her son, DAVID, 4 months old.
Her daughter, TINA MARIA, 20 months old.
MRS. DONNA MAE SOLOC, 24, of New Baltimore.
Her daughter, WENDY LOU, 6 months old.
SUSAN WESTFALL, 7, of New Baltimore.
MRS. BARBARA FORTON, 28, of New Baltimore

Daily Cpaital News Jefferson City Missouri 1964-05-09


Touchdown Location

Spotting a funnel cloud while we were driving up Gratiot near Hall Rd, we saw debris begin to get spewed right up ahead on Gratiot, right in front of us. My dad pulled over. I remember seeing sparks (power lines) near the horizon, and then almost immediately, what looked like a wall of black clouds looking like smoke moving towards the right. We drove ahead to about 1/4 mile south of 21 Mile Rd where there were downed wires and debris blocked any further progress. Far as I could tell, Gratiot just south of 21 Mile Rd. was it's initial touchdown point.

I also recall that a tornado warning had been issued via radio and TV a good 20 minutes earlier (which included Chesterfield Township) issued as a result of a tornado touching down between Lake Orion and Pontiac. Supposedly a number of people in C'field fled their homes because they didn't have basements as reported on the news that night. Apparently not everyone had the radio or TV on.

The next day my oldest brother and I took a ride to go see the damage but the cops chased us out (they must've thought we were looters or something). What I did manage to see was terrible damage.

May 64 Tornado

Yes I would be intereted in your sister lived on Jefferson then...wanted to show her kids

Anchor Bay tornado

Interested in those photos you have please email them -

Path of the tornado

My parents lived on Harbor Drive and was on my way home from college when the tornado went down my parents street. It touched down in a field at the northeast corner of 21 Mile Road and I-94 then crossed the fields to the Selfridge Air Base housing project on Sugarbush then across the Anchor Bay Harbor Subdivision to the shore line of Anchor Bay the it followed the shore till it passed into the lake at the north end of the Lottivue Subdivision. Margaret Roberts the sister of the owner of Garndernelick Funeral Home in New Baltimore lived with us at the time. She said it looked like it was going to storm and sent my sister to the back of the house to close windows then looked out a lake window and all she could see was what looked like a large cloud rolling towards the house along the lake shore and everything in it's path was being destroyed. I have many stories I can tell of that late afternoon the days that followed.

Updated email address for Steve Wolf


1964 Tornado

I was about 15, and my brother and I were home along. I suppose our parents were at work. I was ready to head for the basement, but my brother wouldn't come in the house. He stayed in the yard, shouting back to me that he wanted to watch the tornado. It passed close enough to take out our old apple tree, which was probably about 50 yards from the house. We lived near the corner of 21 and Sugarbush. Many of the homes along Sugarbush had their walls (facing the road) torn off. It was like looking at museum tableaus, with the rooms appearing to be in complete order, but no wall. What an experience! Thank goodness Mr Trinity's Library was spared -- it was my haven.

1964 Tornado in New Baltimore

Hi Cindy,

I actually do remember you. I tried to contact you via FaceBook, but wasn't able to do to your restrictions. Please contact me at the email above.

My Best,
Sara Riggs

1964 Tornado in New Baltimore

Sara aka Diane Coulter.
It was so nice to see your posting. I remember you so well and think of you often. You were my best friend! I received your email and have responded. Call me when you can.
My Best,
Sara Riggs


No I'm not. I did make contact with 2 other members of the family. I was in 2nd grade at the time of the tornado. I was just trying to find out more about Nanette Riggs, who was in my class. But I don't want to cause anyone emotional distress. Thanks.
stevencwolf at comcast dot net

I was in the AFB housing

I was in the AFB housing development directly behind the Forton homes and farms. our home was partially distroyed but the tornado lifted up just as it impacted our home. My mother, Sister and I survived in a inside bathroom of our duplex listening to the twister pull the roof shingles and cladding off.