Belvidere, Oak Lawn, IL Powerful Tornado Devastation, Apr 1967
DEATH-DEALING TORNADOES CLAIM AT LEAST 47 LIVES.
OVER 1,500 INJURED AS TWISTERS DEVASTATE VAST AREA IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS.
By The Associated Press.
Three death-dealing tornadoes that turned heavily populated sections of northern Illinois and western Michigan into a nightmare claimed 47 lives Friday, and searchers feared more bodies would be found in the rubble today.
More than 1,500 persons were injured in the twisters that left vast wastelands in their wake.
The tornadoes killed 24 persons in Oak Lawn, a suburb or Chicago; 20 in Belvidere, Ill., a town of 13,000 about 65 miles northwest of Chicago; 1 in Chicago; 1 in Stone Park, another Chicago suburb, and 1 in Hillsdale County, Mich.
The Chicago Weather Bureau said the tornadoes "appear to be the worst since March 28, 1920. An when the final report is in, it may be the most devasting[sic] tornado on record in northeastern Illinois."
Hardest hit as the tornadoes twisted through scores of Illinois communities was Oak Lawn. Among the victims there were a number of young skaters at a roller rink which was demolished.
A big supermarket in Oak Lawn, which had been jammed with Friday evening shoppers, was reduced to rubble. Authorities feared casualties there could raise the death toll.
Nine victims at Belvidere were students. The twister hit as students boarded school buses at Belvidere High School. Some victims, however, were elementary school students who had been picked up earlier by the buses.
Buses Sent Sailing.
Buses were sent sailing through the air like leaves. Others were bounced across the ground and flattened.
One bus was carried more than a mile from the school. Hours after the storm a woman rummaged through the wreckage of a school bus, looking for her son.
"I haven't found my son yet," she said. "All I've found is his cornet case." Sheriff JOSEPH I. WOODS of Cook County ordered Illinois National Guardsmen activated to guard against looting in debris-strewn Oak Lawn.
"All looters .... will be shot on sight," he said.
FRED DUMKE, village president, said Oak Lawn is "in a state of terrible emergency." Eatlier the sheriff's office declared the village a disaster area and ordered outsiders to stay away.
DUMKE reported "quite a few lootings" on 95th Street in the suburb. "I know Sheriff WOODS had issued orders to shoot on sight anyone who is caught looting."
"I think it's a good ruling," DUMKE continued. "Anyone who would loot at a time like this ......." His voice trailed off as he walked into a temporary morgue in a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.
In the hall's meeting room, rows of bodies were lined up against the west wall.
People stood in clusters, talking and consoling each other. They walked by the bodies, lifted sheets and shook their heads. A few fainted.
Outside the hall and for blocks around it, all was confusion Friday night. Red, white and blue lights flashed from police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.
Bull horns blared from police cars: "Get off the streets."
Some 200 homes, apartment buildings and garages in a six-block area of Oak Lawn were leveled or left with only fragments of walls standing. A witness said it looked like a war zone.
Dozens of trees were uprooted and twisted into grotesque forms. Autos had been crushed by the trees. The sound of power saws and axes could be heard in the darkened streets into the early morning hours as 1,500 workmen attempted to clear the area of debris before dawn, as promised by Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago.
In Belvidere, Police Capt. FRANCIS WHALEN stopped his car in front of the Belvidere High School as the twister approached. He dropped to the floor.
"I said a few prayers," he recalled. "I wrote an Act of Contrition on that floor. When I got up, the bus in front of me was tipped over. The house beside me was off its foundation. I knew a lot of people were hurt. The whole area was flattened."
When the twister struck, many students still were in the school. Teachers and pupils rushed into the library and cafeteria.
BILL COLEMAN, 17, a junior at the school, said he helped take 200 other students to the cafeteria.
"We were unaware of any damage while we were in there," he said. "Then we got out and looked and there was a bus halfway through the wall."
As the tornado neared the high school, other terrified students huddled against the library walls. The force of the wind smashed the library's windows, injuring dozens, police said.
Before touching down at the school, the twister hit a new Chrysler plant, the Highland Hospital and five subdivisions.
"We could hear it go over," said KAREN SMITH, 22, a Chrysler employe. "You could hear the hail hit the building. Your ears popped like you were going up a mountain."
Damage to the Chrysler plant was confined to the exterior, a company spokesman said. But 250 to 300 cars in the parking lot were mangled, overturned and smashed against each other, he said.
The Highland Hospital was evacuated after it sustained extensive damage, a hospital spokesman said. One patient was reported injured.
Authorities at Belvidere and Oak Lawn worked through the night, sifting debris for bodies and survivors. Dozens searched the ruins of 200 structures in Oak Lawn for survivors believed trapped in the basements covered with debris.
"We have all kinds of areas to the west of here where we haven't even broken ground yet," DUMKE said in Oak Lawn.
Elsewhere in Illinois, there were scattered reports of damage from tornadoes, high winds and thunderstorms in Lake Zurich, Waukegan, Libertyville, Barrington, Orion, Moline, Rock Island, Harvard and scores of other communities.
BELVIDERE TORNADO VICTIMS.
Belvidere, Ill. (AP) -- The following victims killed in the Belvidere tornado Friday were listed today by Coroner ALBERT WHEELER:
LAWRENCE EUGENE DECKER, about 40, Belvidere.
HAROLD C. GUSTAFSON, about 68, Belvidere.
THEODORE NELSON, 15, Caledonia.
JACK N. STOALL, 23, Cherry Valley.
JOHN TATE, about 10, Belvidere.
KRISTINE LUTZOW, about 10, Belvidere.
PAMELA HAINES, about, 16, Belvidere.
GILBERT JULIN, about 65, Belvidere.
MARY JEAN HAMRE, 67, Belvidere.
DAVID WAYNE POE, Belvidere.
MICHAEL BATES, 8, Belvidere.
MRS. NORINE WYCH, about 80, Garden Prairie.
PHYLLIS VAN BROCKLIN, 13, Caledonia.
VICKY JO SMITH, 10, Poplar Grove.
BARBARA ANN JOHNSON, Garden Prairie.
DWIGHT DAVID SHAW, 12, Caledonia.
CINDY DAY, 8, Belvidere.
BECKY VOGELSANG, Poplar Grove.
KENT FERGUSON, 12, Caledonia.
BRUCE LINDLEY, 13, Caledonia.
OAK LAWN TORNADO VICTIMS.
The following are victims of the Oak Lawn tornado:
EDWARD J. BURMAN.
HAROLD F. CODY.
PATRICK ANDREW GOLDEN.
WILLIAM R. JACKSON.
JOHN T. MARTIN.
JOHN W. MOBLEY.
ALBERT J. SEMAITIS.
CATHERINE M. ZENNER.
Appleton Post-Crescent Wisconsin 1967-04-22