Vancouver, WA Tornado Strikes City, Apr 1972

Vancouver WA  Waremart Store Ruins.JPG Vancouver WA Memorial Marker of Tornado.JPG


Vancouver, Wash. (AP) -- Six persons were crushed to death Wednesday in a sudden tornado-like storm which tore through Vancouver. Five of the victims died at the Waremart Grocery Store.
"I was shopping in Waremart when the lights went out. That was the only warning," said Army Spec. 4 THOMAS FULLER, 25, Vancouver. "I thought we had been hit by lightning."
"Then all hell broke loose. The roof began to peel off and stuff began to fall all around."
"I screamed for everyone to run to the rear of the building," FULLER said. "But the 20 or 30 shoppers in the store all ran for the front door. That's when the front wall blew down, trapping a half dozen people underneath."
JEANNIE ADAMS, 22, Vancouver, and her 2-year-old son, BRIAN KEITH, were crushed under the front wall inside the store. LUILA CLEVIDENCE, 25, Vancouver, her 5-year-old daughter, DENISE, and her week-old son died when falling debris flattened their car in the store's parking lot.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service in Portland described it as a "thunderstorm that a Weather officials refused to call the storm a tornado, although several eyewitnesses referred to it as such.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service in Portland described it as a "thunderstorm that suddenly went berserk."
Another spokesman said a meterologist would visit the site today to determine wind velocity. An official definition of a tornado includes wind speeds of 100-300 m.p.h.
JAMES D. WAKEFIELD, meteorologist for the Forecast Office, said, "To do the damage done in Vancouver, those winds had to be moving 100 to 125 miles an hour."
An observer, STEVE MAPHET of Vancouver, said, "As a kid in Oklahoma, I saw a tornado and that's what that was this afternoon. I was sleeping when I heard all the hail. When I looked out my back window, a tornado leveled two homes behind my house, and damaged several others."
PAUL PEARCE, 16, a junior at Fort Vancouver High School, about 500 yards from the demolished Peter S. Ogden Elementary School -- said he noticed a large, swirling cloud of dust in which huge timbers floated lazilly around.
"It sort of swung a wide arc around some houses," PEARCE said, "then drifted into the school."
More than 40 children and teachers were injured when the windstorm lifted the roof and blew down the walls of the school.
A newspaper reporter said as soon as the school was hit, Fort Vancouver students rushed to the scene and began helping the injured.
"Some of the students pulled portions of wall off some of the injured," the reporter said.
GERRY THORP, 53, owner of the Sunrise Bowling Lanes, lay on a stretcher in St. Joseph Community Hospital and told of fear knotting in his stomach when the lights flickered out and a strong wind crashed through the front door.
An employe of the bowling alley, EARL DALBY, said he ran to try and get the children out of the building's nursery.
"I turned around and saw one woman under the wall. We couldn't get her out. The worst part was turning around and seeing that woman -- there was nothing we could do," DALBY said.
The babysitter in the nursery, SHARON GRASER, 30, Vancouver, was killed.
One mother who rescued her daughter from the nursery said, "Someone handed me a little boy. Someone told me he was the babysitter's son. He was crying for his mother. I don't know what to do."

Daily Sitka Sentinel Alaska 1972-04-06


Remembering April 5 1972

I was in 2nd grade at Peter S Ogdon on April 5 ,1972. My class room was on the corner of the school by the play ground. I am 53 years old now and remember that day so clearly. We were reading out loud. Than we noticed outside the windows. The farms wooden crates starting to blow away down the street. Than we saw hail coming down. The hail than got bigger. So big that the windows went grey. Were you couldn't see out of them. Than bam the roof was torn off. I guess from all the drills we had to go under are desk sunk in. I remember going under my desk. Inot sure for how long, as soon as you knew by the sound it was over. It really was so fast. It felt like a dream. Being 8 years old when this happened. I remember it happen so fast that you werent really sure what had happen to be scared. Remember my teacher (i think her name was Miss Brooks)was trapped under her wooden desk, and 1 classmate i believe was hit in the head by a brick. I dont know what has happen to anyone after the storm. Went to different schools and lost track. In 1974 my family and I moved back to Seattle,Wa. I hope that all my classmates have had a good life since that day. I know i have. I spent 10 years in the US NAVY than was medically retired 1996. I think of that day all the time and though it was time to write what i remembered.God bless all of us and mostly God bless the 6 people we lost that day. Thank you
James Ruffcorn

Auntie Lu

We all love you Auntie Lu and Denise and Mark and you are all there with us when the family gets together!
Thank you for at least reporting this tragedy to keep it fresh in everyone's memories.. everyone else already gave the corrections, so I get to just say thanks :)

Great Aunti Lu and cousins

It is important you fix the spelling of my Great Aunt Luila's name. One day when I have children and they stumble upon this page they will see the importance of these people in our lives and in memory. I didn't know Great Aunt Lu or Denise or Mark and really the internet is the only thing I have no pictures, just the internet and their graves. I never met Aunt Lu but I heard she was a sweet lady, a great sister and made everyone laugh a lot. Denise was a smart girl who could count to 10 in french, her Uncle taught her. She was a cutie. All of them were and are. God bless you Great Aunt Luila, Denise and Mark. I look forward to the day I get to meet my Great Aunt for the first time.

I agree.

The specifics do matter. Don is my dad and I know how important that event was in his life. I've heard the story of how my aunt and cousins died so many years ago several times. It was so drastic infact that my little sister has the same middle name that my aunt had, Deane; My cousin was named Alan, which was Mark's middle name; And if, God willing, I have a little girl she will have Denice's middle name, LaRae. My entire family is keeping their memory alive. My Aunt was survived by 1 sister, 3 brothers, her mother, father, husband, and oldest son. She has neices, nephews, grandchildren and cousins whom she never got to meet, and still, we all know her story. The true story. From what I've been told my Aunt Luu was an amazing mother, sister, and just an all around wonderful woman. Her memory lives on in our hearts. How she died may not matter much to you, but to those who were left behind, those who never knew her and still love her, and her children, it does matter. Very much so.

It does matter in my

It does matter in my opinion. You know the truth and it has been wrong all these years its about time the mistake was corrected.

thank you

thank you for the correction, Don . As a transcriber all I do is take the material directly from the newspaper listed at the end of the article .. If they state something incorrect, unfortunately, I will have it wrong also .. Your reply informs all readers of the mistake and I know it is important to you and your family ..

tornado vancouver,wa 1972

I am the brother of Luila Clevidence and uncle of Denice and Mark. They were killed in the building not in there car, but I guess it really doesn't matter they are dead none the less