Tracy, MN Tornado Causes Death And Damage, June 1968
TORNADO DEATHS, DAMAGE STAGGER MINNESOTA TOWN.
MANY KILLED, INJURED AT TRACY; NEARLY HALF OF HOMES DESTROYED.
Tracy, Minn. (AP) -- A tornado smashed through this southwest Minnesota town Thursday night leaving at least 13 dead and 11 critically injured.
Red Cross officials on the scene said 16 other persons were hospitalized and at least 60 homes were destroyed by the twister. Many persons were still missing and feared dead as rescue operations continued today.
Seven bodies were recovered in the dark hours following the powerful twister, and three were discovered this morning as National Guardsmen and Civil Defense workers began search and cleanup operations.
The bodies found after daybreak included that of a man found near town in an open field, near his car, and two persons in another vehicle.
Some of the demolished homes, nearly half the dwellings in the community, had vanished except for their concrete front steps and foundations. Some homes had plumbing intact, but little else. Two boxcars lifted from railroad tracks had blown over the rooftops and smashed down three blocks away in the area of destruction, so cluttered it resembled a large junkyard.
Streets were bulldozed of debris, to permit workmen to get through. Tracy's mayor ordered the town sealed off from sightseers, with entry permits granted to persons with valid reasons to be in Tracy.
The Tracy hospital said 72 persons were admitted and 22 remained overnight. Eleven were listed in critical condition.
The twister, powered two miles through this town of 2,800 in Minnesota's southwestern farmland. It ravaged a block-and-a-half wide path, then skirted into the countryside, clawing an occasional farm building before it dissipated five miles out of town.
Tracy was without electric power, water and phone service for serveral hours. The hospital was operating on emergencey generators.
Water was brought by tank trucks from nearby Marshall and Slayton.
The death toll would probably have gone much higher if the town hadn't been warned by a farmer, who telephoned the volunteer fire department as the twister approached eight miles to the southwest. The town siren wailed in the early, eerie dusk.
Fire Chief BERNARD HOLM said, "This saved many, many lives." The farmer had phoned his alert at 6:55 p.m., seven minutes before the hospital clocks stopped, denoting power circuits were broken.
HOLM saw his greenhouse across the street collapse at the twister's edge, then he ducked into his basement. His house had very little damage.
Gov. HAROLD LaVANDER ordered 150 National Guard troops from Tracy and Marshall to assist and secure the area. He also directed the state Highway Department to bring in portable electric generators.
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune Missouri 1968-06-14