Helena, Centerville, AL, SC (Other Towns) Tornadoes, May 1933

TORNADO TOLL IN ALABAMA IS 22, MANY HURT.

REHABILITATION GOES FORWARD, WITH NATIONAL GUARD AND RED CROSS ON DUTY IN STRICKEN AREA.

SOUTH CAROLINA'S DEAD FIXED AT 18 FROM STORM.

VICTIMS OF YESTERDAY'S CATASTROPHE TELL OF EXPERIENCES AS WINDS DESCEND.

(By The Associated Press)
Storms and tornadoes lashing Alabama and South Carolina yesterday claimed 40 lives, injured scores and left hundreds homeless. Deaths in three Alabama counties reached 22, and in South Carolina where a wide area was swept by a storm, 18 died of injuried.
Rehabilitation went forward in the storm-swept area in Alabama today, with the national guard supplying tents, cots and blankets for the homeless, and the Red Cross administering food, medicines and clothing.
More than 100 are under treatment in Alabama hospitals, and nearly that many in South Carolina.
Deaths from storms in the South since the middle of March are nearly 200.
The storm struck at Demopolis, where two were killed; at Centerville; at Brent, where three were killed; at Union Grove, Adamsville and other small communities. Coalmont, four miles from Helena, was reported to be practically wiped off the map. Leeds reported one person hurt and 20 houses wrecked.
Only a few houses were left standing in Helena and most of the town's population huddled in the muddy streets, half dressed and hungry.
One of Helena's dead, MRS. N. D. THOMAS, wife of a deputy sheriff, was found high in a tree several yards from the house where she had been sleeping, her body badly mangled.
All three of Helena's churches were destroyed; the winds wrecked boxcars parked in the railway yards there, and twisted power and communication lines into a wreckage that left the section without communication.
The storm swept over an area a mile and a half wide and four miles long and left little standing before it.
Many dead chickens were scattered about the town, while others, crippled and without feathers, were being put out of their suffering.
Fate played a cruel trick on C. B. DAVIS and his family. Early in the night, MR. DAVIS said he and his wife and baby, alarmed by high winds, went to a neighbors storm pit and remained there for an hour or more. As the wind subsided he then returned to his home and went to bed. Continuing the story MR. DAVIS said:
"We were awakened about 2:30 a.m. Friday by the howling of the wind. My wife and baby and I dressed and sat on the bed listening to the wind and wondering if it was going to blow the house away."
"Suddenly came the answer. First a window of the house was carried out. Then as the wind filled the house the walls were carried into space. Three of us were left sitting on the bed."
"I covered my child's body with my body when suddenly bricks from the chimney began falling on me. However, the wind was so terrific that it blew the bricks off me taking them into space. It was lucky that I covered my child or else the falling brick would probably have killed her."
Four houses and a Methodist church were blown down at Union Grove, two miles from Adamsville in Jefferson county and a man and a boy were injured in Adamsville.
The storm, which weather authorities say was probably two or three tornadoes, came roaring up from the southern part of the state along the western border, dipped at Centerville, Brent, Helena, Adamsville, Union Grove and probably struck other sections of Alabama that had not reported early Friday.
Furniture was strewn everywhere and when the first ambulances arrived around 5 a.m. Friday they were greeted with cries of distress as injured ones tried to care for the numbers of their families who wer more seriously injured.
Entire families were swept from their beds by the force of the wind. The survivors said they were aroused before the twister actually struck as it roared its way about the doomed city.
Residents said after they were disturbed by the roar of the wind they stood helpless waiting for the storm. Many remained in their bed and were swept into the streets. Some were carried across the street only to fall in other beds. In many cases walls were leveled and yet the inhabitants uninjured.
Reports from Brent and Centerville, in Bibb county, were similar. Residents were awakened by the heavy roaring of wind the crashing of timbers and falling of trees.

The Dothan Eagle Alabama 1933-05-06