Windsor Locks, CT Tornado, Oct 1979

Windsor Locks CT Tornado Motel Roof destroyed.jpg Windsor Locks CT Tornado Wrecked Planes.jpg Windsor Locks CT Tornado Damage scene.jpg



Windsor Locks, Conn. (AP) -- A freak tornado described as "a big monster" killed one person, left more than 100 hospitalized and caused damage estimated at well over $100 million as it churned through north-central Connecticut.
The Wednesday afternoon twister, which accompanied a storm with 86 mph winds, destroyed a collection of rare airplanes and blew away homes and businesses through parts of Windsor and Windsor Locks.
There was no immediate count of the number left homeless by the twister. Authorities planned to search again today to determine if any victims were trapped beneath the rubble of the scores of homes and businesses crumpled by the surge of wind.
Killed when flying lumber bashed into his pickup truck was WILLIAM KOWALSKY, 24, of Manchester, authorities reported. Officials reported 118 persons hospitalized. Ten, including a 10-month-old baby, were in critical condition.
About 180 other persons were given treatment at makeshift first-aid stations or released after hospital treatment, according to DR. DOUGLAS LLOYD, the state public health commissioner.
"They wandered around saying, 'Gee, my house just blew away,'"" the REV. JAMES SILVER said of the survivors of the brutal storm. Silver's Congregational Church in Piquonock lost its roof and steeple to the winds, rare in New England.
Gov. ELLA GRASSO, who lives in Windsor Locks, declared an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in the stricken area to prevent looting and vandalism. She dispatched 200 National Guardsmen to enforce the curfew and patrol the area, a swath about three miles long and up to a mile wide. MRS. GRASSO, whose home was not damaged, said an application for federal disaster aid was being drawn up.
Bradley International, the state's major airport, was closed today, its regular and backup electrical power knocked out and the airfield strewn with the splintered wreckage of helicopters and airplanes. A collection of rare and antique military planes at the airport was destroyed.
"It looks like it's been bombed," said state Transportation Commissioner ARTHUR POWERS. Rescue efforts after the storm were hindered because most of the Connecticut National Guard's helicopter fleet was destroyed. The few available helicopters were flown in from other parts of the state to airlift the most seriously injured to hospitals while roads remained blocked by debris.

Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1979-10-04

Transcriber's Note: Another fatality, not listed in this article, was CAROLE DOMBKOSKI, 42 years old.