Flint, MI Tornado, Jun 1953

Flint, Mich.: June 8, 1953

Less than a month after the Waco tornado, another F5 monster ripped through portions of greater Flint, Mich., on June 8, killing 116 people and injuring 844 along a 27-mile path. Named the Flint-Beecher tornado, it is memorable for being the last tornado in the United States (as of this writing) to claim more than 100 fatalities. The Flint-Beecher tornado is rated as the ninth deadliest twister ever recorded in the United States.

This tornado was one of ten that hit southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio that afternoon and evening. The others caused a total of 26 deaths and 449 injuries with damage stretching from Alpena, Mich., on the western shore of Lake Huron, to Cleveland, Ohio.

Severe storms developed over southeast Lower Michigan in the afternoon, when a moisture-laden warm front moving from the Ohio Valley collided with a strong cold front moving east across Wisconsin. The Flint-Beecher tornado touched down at about 8:30 p.m. (CDT) two miles north of Flushing, Mich., and tracked eastward across Genesee and Lapeer counties to about two miles east of Lapeer, Mich., clipping northern portions of Flint. The tornado destroyed approximately 340 homes and damaged 260. An additional 50 farmhouses and businesses were destroyed and 16 damaged.

At its greatest intensity, the tornado path was more than a half-mile wide, obliterating all homes for about a mile on both sides of Coldwater Road in Beecher. Of the 116 deaths, 114 occurred in this four-mile stretch of the damage path. As in Waco, the Weather Bureau issued severe weather bulletins highlighting the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, rather than today's tornado warnings that provide details about tornado location and movement. Damage from this monstrous storm was estimated to be about $19 million ($127 million in 2002 dollars).


The 1953 Flint-Beecher Tornado occurred on Monday, June 8, 1953 and ranks as one of the top ten single deadliest tornadoes in United States history. Rated as an F5 on the Fujita Scale, the tornado touched down in Genesee County, Michigan at 8:30 p.m. and continued on a 27 mile (43 km) path causing 116 fatalities, 844 injuries and an estimated $19 million (1953 USD) in damage. Most of the casualties and damage occurred in the unincorporated community of Beecher, a suburb on the northern edge of the city of Flint, Michigan. The tornado was one of eight tornadoes that touched down the same day in eastern lower Michigan and northwest Ohio. It was also part of the larger Flint–Worcester tornado outbreak of severe weather that began over Nebraska and Iowa, before moving east across the upper Great Lakes states and Ontario, and on to New York and New England causing more deadly tornadoes.



Your storm picture

You might try the Flint Journal(still in Business as the only daily newspaper covering the area) and establish how far back their microfilm records go. There were also several other weekly newspapers published by small towns in and around the Flint area.

1953 Flint Michigan tornado

I was three years old at the time, but I do remember the air being very heavy and dead, and the sky a very weird dark purplish green just prior to the storm. My father and the next door neighbor had shared expenses and built a storm shelter near the back hill of the neighbors's property because both modest homes were built on crawl spaces, and they were concerned about the pattern of severe storms in prior years. In those days we lived in a small community of around 2,000 in the northern part of the county. When the storm hit, my parents,baby brother, and the elderly neighbor couple all went down into the coolness of the shelter and listened to the details of the storm on the radio. We stayed underground for a few hours listening to the reports of the devastation on the radio. You could not get into the Beecher section of Flint because of the devastation. Years later, one of the survivors that was found alive and pulled out from under the rubble of his home there happened to be employed by my father. He recounted his perilous encounter with near death much to my fascination as a teenager. The storm, or actually the series of storms that took place over several hours that day blew debris from Michigan all the way into Canada.

INFO about tornado June 8, 1953

I have a an picture from a newspaper story of the aftermath of that storm, The picture of my mom holding me as an infant. My Mother is standing next to a very large tree that went down in the storm and just missed the house with my mom and other siblings. I would love to know what the article said, I don't know what newspaper though.

1953 tornado

the tornado of 1953 hit Colunbiaville on Peters Rd. My family lived there and we lost everything we owned. We lived 1 miles from grandparents and they they never knew we were hit. It also hit east of us in Lapeer County.

Flint Disaster

I rember my mom telling us about this, Now i know why she still fear's storms to this day!! She also told us that my Grandpa- James D Sheppard, Electrician at General Motors volunteer his time to help family's restore there electric.

1953 Flint-Worcester Tornado

This was the same tornado, my mother-in-law also lived in Attica and tells the story of how their farm was also a victim of this tornado, it took out their barn and the roof of their house. The Zehr farm was located between Force Rd. and Lake George Rd. on Newark. She tells the story of how debris from Flint was found on their farm.

6-8-1953 Flint Tornado {Beecher District}

I lived on a dairy farm near Columbiaville, near Klam Rd & Mt Morris Rd. All of our buildings were destroyed. We had a basement barn built into the side of a hill and so our cows were saved and my Dad, Everett, and my Uncle, Maurice Taylor were doing the milking with our electric machines. I was almost four yrs old and remember it vividly. We had never gone to the basement before, but my Mom, Genevieve [Jerri] heard a couple weeks before, that the tornadoes come up 'tornado alley' and had her spot picked out in her mind in the 1/2 basement.

It had been a very hot & humid day and we, Connie & Cheryl [sisters], and Aunt Dorothy, cousins Lynn, Sue, and baby Lee had gone swimming at Bronson LAKE. My sisters, and my Mom & Aunt and my cousin, Sue were all in the dining room visiting. Lee was asleep off the dining room in my mom & dad's bedroom, and Lynn was asleep on the couch in the living room.

The wind started blowing and then the lights went out and my mom said in an "I knew something was serious" tone of voice, "Dorothy , I think we'd better go to the basement!". The hail or debris started breaking the windows. We headed for the inside basement door just inside the kitchen, right next to the upstairs door and Sue & I were in front of my Mom, and Sue was afraid of the dark and a strange house. I said to her, "come on, we've got to get down to the basement!", through the flashing lightening.
My two sisters were right behind my Mom and the 5 of us dashed over to the corner where our new jet water pump had just been installed. The big solid wooden door that lead up to the outside had blown open( and afterward my mom had a few scratches from debris coming from the crack where the hinges attached to the basement, stone foundation of the house. As she leaned over us kids to protect us, I remember she kept yelling for "Dorothy, Dorothy" because we couldnt see or hear only the loudest horrendous roar of the tornado.

Aunt Dorothy had gotten up from the round oak dining room table and dashed in the bedroom to get my Cousin Lee, and then went t across the dining room to the front room [living room] and tried to get Lynn awake; and, Aunt Dorothy started toward the basement stairs but Lynn had turned around and gone back to lay down on the couch. Aunt Dot went and grabbed her and ran through the dining room to the kitchen and reached the basement door and couldnt get it opened because of the sudden atmospheric pressure change. She later said she finally yanked the door opened and grabbed Lynn by the suspenders and pushed her down the stairwell and she, holding Lee in her other arm, just managed to get down a couple of steps when the whole house, floors and everything went ! I was standing by the heavy wooden door and remember the looped door handle and thinking, "whatever THIS is, I'm going to want to remember this !" ;and, I opened my eyes to try to see but there was too much dirt and sand blowing around and it was dark too. I remember hearing the wind blowing through the water pipes many of which were just installed since we were installing an inside bathroom. The roar reminded me of hundreds of freight trains that I used to wave at the conductors up on the knoll up from across the road maybe 150 yds from our front yard, as the old steam/coal locomotives went back and forth from Lapeer.

After it passed, I remember looking up out of the basement and it was still storming and I could see our refrigerator wrapped around a remnant, twisted broken tree. All the big trees in our front yard that we had played hide and seek behind, and had swung in the swing in and played in my sand box under the shade were just twisted and stripped bare of leaves and bark uprooted and broken twigs.
Uncle Maurice and my dad were running trying to warn us and my dad got hit in the back of the head with a beam and got knocked out. Uncle Maurice went back and slipped in the manure in the barnyard and lifted the beam off my dad. He couldnt lift it the next day and he was a strong Marine that had spent 4 yrs in the Pacific in WWII. They continued on to the house and I remember seeing Uncle Maurice's outline against the flashing sky and he saw that the house was gone and thought all of us were gone too.

A brother of the Birch sisters across the road and up the hill, came down with a big flashlight and he had a big wide-brimmed hat and he carried me as he held the flashlight for the rest of my family to step over the live wires that were down. The tornado destroyed their barn and clipped the edge of their kitchen and that part of the roof was gone. All of us kids had to go to the bathroom and several of the girls were vomiting. [Apx. 1989 I attended a high school graduation of Cass City High School which was about 8 1/2 miles from our second dairy farm and my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs.Murphy didnt remember me so much but commented that she remembered both my sisters because 'they would get sick everytime it stormed at school'] ( I still have 24 hr nausea when there is a bad disaster event even at times sixty years later). Neighbors came down to the Birch's house and took all of us to the Columbiaville Gymnasium where the floor was covered with the injured, including my dad and people trying to deal with the shock of what had just taken place. My Aunt Dot had an injured knee where a board with a nail had hit it and she had Lee and her kids to care for. [My mom and her brother, Uncle Maurice, were over in a corner of the gym, and my mom was helping him change out of his manure jeans, and the shock and stress overcame them and they started laughing hysterically ]. I remember then going back to where my dad was lying on the gym floor and laying down beside him.

Mr. Little from Cass City had a hearse/ambulance that he drove my dad and my mom and myself up to Cass City Hospital. We went to my Aunt Dorothy & Uncle Maurice's inlaws, Art & Phoebe Klinkman where they lived next door to my aunt & uncle. The power was out there though the storm was some 60 miles away. Sue and I only had on underpants and that was all that I recovered from the tornado.
We farmed and did dairying for another 10 years and then sold that farm after the Kennedy assination in 1963, and moved to Southern California. I live in Dublin in Northern California, Connie married her gradeschool sweeheart, Marv Smith and they moved to California, and Cheryl before we did in 1963. He formed his own furniture company and eventually moved it to High Point, NC, along with my folks in 1995. Dad passed in 2006 at 90, and then Connie & Marv retired to Palm Coast, FL in 2010, and moved my mom near them at her independent living facility there. Mom just celebrated her 91st birthday in April and is holding her own. Cheryl met her love at church in Southern Calif., Doug Farmer, and he became a pastor in the late 60's and after spending over 6 yrs pastoring a small Baptist church in Hauula, Oahu, they missed their kids (4) and 9 grandkids, and have been pastoring at Newman Baptist Church, in the San Joaquin Valley for the past 10 years. By coincidence, my bro-in-law, Doug, was born in Flint as was I, but he is 16 yrs my senior and moved from Flint to Southern Calif., when he was 1 year old. Lee Taylor, my cousin, became a pastor and he pastor's a baptist church at Whitmore Lake, MI.

I have a few pictures of the tornado havoc and aftermath and I think my sister has the Flint Journal Special that someone else mentioned. [I do not know how exactly to scan and load to my computer, but could possibly do so]. My dad tried to save The Flint Journal Special, and put it in plastic fillers, but I think the acid has deteriorated it more. I did some micro film research at a library when I was there in the late 80's, and the film was catalogued wrong. There were pages missing from the Journal, and some were duplicated, etc., I did find reference to my dad, Everett G Sheffer, and Aunt Dorothy Taylor as being among the injured. I can be contacted at [email protected].

1953 Flint Tornado

It was my parents graduation day from St. Michaels in Flint. They were on their way to dinner that evening with my mothers parents and drove through the devastation shortly after it hit. They were pulled off to the side of the road as the tornado passed and they said the noise level was so loud, they could not stand it. The destruction they saw after was incredible they say. They were all lucky to have not been hurt. They witnessed death all around them and the area looked flattened. They picked a few people up along the way who were injured and took them to the hospital. It was a very emotional time for them all.

Beecher tornado of 1953

I remember this well. I was a child and lived south of Flint. We spent the night in our basemenst along with a young neighbor couple and their kids...they didn't have a basement. The Flint Journal put out a special edition, all stories from the tornado. I have a copy somewhere. Couldn't put my finger on it at the moment but every now & then I run across it. You could probably acess their archives . Carol

Flint Tornado 1953

Would like to know what areas of Lapeer county were impacted by this tornado. My Dad always talked about a tornado in the 1950's that hit near the Hunter's Creek road area near Attica and caused a lot of damage there and northward toward Flint and Lapeer, itself. Wondering if it was the one in 1953.