Washington, KS Tornado, Jul 1932 - Buildings Crash


Half of Business Section of Washington, Kas., Reported Wrecked

Washington, Kas. - (AP) – Scores of persons were homeless here today, victims of a Fourth of July tornado which struck in southeastern Nebraska and Northern Kansas, killing at least four persons, injuring approximately fifty others, and wrecking more than 100 buildings.

The storm swept into Washington late yesterday, razing homes within a few blocks of the city park, where several thousand persons were assembled for an Independence day celebration.

Washington – (AP) – Tornadic winds hedge-hopping across southeastern Nebraska and northern Kansas have killed at least three persons, injured more than a score and brought great damage to the town of Washington.

Citizens of Washington and numerous visitors from nearby towns observed the sweep of the storm clouds near the close of an all day Fourth of July celebration. Gov. Harry M. Woodring, who was to be the principal speaker, cancelled the engagement because of fatigue after his return yesterday from the Democratic national convention at Chicago.

Crashing buildings killed Peter Gillette, a retired mail carrier and Garland Hubka, about 20, of Nerka, Kas. The city of approximately 1,300 persons immediately was thrown into complete chaos. Reports that two additional persons had been killed could not be verified early today.

Eight of the more seriously were taken to a Clay Center, Kas., hospital. Attaches of the hospital said today that none was in critical condition.

List Injured
These injured included Alma Green, 15, Fairbury, Neb.; Alva Sinnitt, 19, Washington; Harry Frazer, Washington; Vatlor Houska, 75, Washington; Mrs. Joseph Houska, 68, Washington; Ruth Fleming, 20, Washington, Mona May Tay, 14, Linn, Kas., and Mrs. Roy Pitcher, 29, Washington.

Immediate attempts at rescue were started after the tornado struck, but such efforts were seriously hampered by a downpour of rain.

The rain halted later in the evening, but complete darkness added to the uncertainty of rescue operations. All electric light service was halted. The wind also wrenched aside the municipal water tower and the water supply was interrupted.

Virtually half of the business section of the town was wrecked. Damaged buildings included the town's two school houses, the courthouse and the city hall. The Burlington railroad station was blown completely away.

Emergency medical stations were established in a hotel and the telephone office. Many persons, other than those taken to the Clay Center hospital, received treatment for more minor injuries.

Numerous motorists fled to safety before the approach of the storm cloud. Parked automobiles were undamaged in residential sections of the town.

Mayor Edgar Bennett estimated that 50 business buildings and 75 residences either were leveled or partially destroyed.
“It just tore up the entire town,” he explained.

Ruth Fleming, one of those taken to Clay Center for treatment escaped the wind unhurt, but slipped and seriously injured her back during the later excitement.

Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton, WI 5 Jul 1932


Merle L. Eastwood

My wonderful Mother-in- Law Mrs. Merle L. Eastwood ( Meitler) was on duty at the phone company when the tornado hit Washington, Kansas on July 4th 1932. She was noted in the newspaper for having stood her post during the tornado, and keeping comunications open. She stood her ground even as she saw the Court House torn apart, the Court House is katy corner from where the phone company was at that time. My wonderful Mother- in- Law has gone to her reward this morning at the young age of 100 years 5 months and 5 days, you will be greatly missed MOM , Love David and your daughter Sandy