Forrest City AR Tornado, June 1974


Forrest City, Ark. (AP) -- A tornado ripped through this east Arkansas town of 12,500, killing at least four persons, injuring more than 100 and causing widespread damage.
There was still some confusion early today over the number of persons killed. Officials feared the number would rise as rescue workers combed through the shoulder-high debris that remained of a 45,000 square foot Gibson's discount store and a 25,000 square foot supermarket, both of which were filled with shoppers when the tornado struck Thursday evening.
State police said they had confirmed four deaths. Forrest City police and the St. Francis County sheriff's office said at least six persons were killed.
State police also said they confirmed that 48 persons had been admitted to Memorial Hospital at Forrest City and that 17 other persons were admitted to hospitals in Memphis, Tenn. In addition, more than 50 persons were treated at the Forrest City hospital and released.
A spokesman said most of those hospitalized at Memphis were in critical to severe condition.
State police also said 150 to 250 homes had been destroyed. Earlier reports said 350 homes had been destroyed and as many as 2,000 suffered at least minor damage.
Hospital officials identified two of the dead as INEZ
SPEARS, 19, and LOYCE JEAN SMITH, 17. Both women were found in the Gibson store debris.
About 150 of the city's homeless were being housed at the Washington Street Community Center.
Lt. Bill Lawson of the state Military Department said Gov. Dale Bumpers had ordered 50 National Guard members from the Forrest City area to go on duty to prevent looting.
A junior high school was heavily damaged and an elementary school was reported demolished.
Power lines were knocked down but electrical service was generally restored in the city within about one hour. A Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. spokesman said about 1,100 telephones were out of service.
Kersh Hall of the Forrest City Times-Herald said three churches were destroyed and some two-story
townhouse apartment buildings were left with only the ground floor intact after the storm.
Sam Smith Junior High School was reported heavily damaged and Alta McDaniel Elementary School was demolished. School Supt. Bill Irving said only the gymnasium was standing at the junior high school.

Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1974-06-07


Forrest city tornado June 1974

My dad was on his way home from the Pump Station in Marianna that was being built. He saw the tornado hit and could tell that it had hit one of the shopping centers. He w went back to work and got a crane from the jobsite and an operator, They walked the crane to the shopping center to help remove debris to rescue people.

I survived!

I survived a direct hit from this tornado on Village Street. Thank you God.