Community Reflects on 50th Anniversary of F5 Tornado

May 15, 2018 08:27 PM

(ABC 6 news)--It was a storm that carved a path of destruction through the heart of a vibrant North Iowa community in 1968.

On Tuesday, residents looked back as well as looked ahead.


“It was a very, very hot, humid day," Jeanne Fullard remembered.

“Kind of like Florida, Texas humid," Joe Tudor added.

And by the time the day was over, Charles City, Iowa would be changed forever.

Just before five o’clock that afternoon, an F5 tornado plowed through the heart of the city.

"13 people died, hundreds were injured and the community was completely upended," said Pastor Mike Downey of the Charles City Evangelical Free Church. He helped organize an anniversary observance.

The tornado destroyed 350 homes in Charles City and damaged more than 850 others.

"All at once the suspended ceiling come down, the windows blew out,” a long time resident recounted to several dozen people gathered for the noon-time observance in a community park.

58 businesses were destroyed, and more than 200 others were damaged.

"Everybody that was a part of it remembers the sound,” Jeanne Fullard remembered.

But the anniversary observance wasn't just about tallying up the loss.

It was about tallying-up the blessings.

"That was probably the Lord himself that was with us," Carnette Starr tearfully told the crowd, explaining how the twister struck the house she was in.

"In the worst of conditions and situations, it brings people together, and the storms of life can do that” one pastor told the crowd.

“God is still God,” Pastor Mike Downey told ABC 6. “We'll never understand why he sent the storm, we just understand to still trust him.

“That night as I crawled into bed,” Jeanne Fullard recalled. “My mom stuck her head in the door and said be very very thankful you have a bed to sleep in tonight.”


Dan Conradt

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