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Episode 33: Outbreak in Oak Lawn

Apr 19, 2017|

It is considered the worst tornado outbreak on record in the Chicago area.  At least 10 tornadoes pushed through Northern Illinois, 3 of which were later rated F4.  On Episode 33, we take you back to April 21, 1967.  It is a warm and muggy Friday afternoon.  Kids are coming home from school. ...

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is torn. Asked about one of nature's most fascinating phenomenon to share your tornado story with us by email Jenin Dan at tornado talk dot com. Yeah and can act tornado dog dot com he. Now meteorologist. Jennifer near Moore and Dan Holliday tornado Todd is on him. I Friday in an article and it really digest your head what have you survived. And they had share could have been seeing a couple of different late B Lister by the surroundings and that I survived turning else I really get by the tornado. That is Diane doors she doesn't need anything or anyone to reminder of what happened on April 21 1967. That was the day she and her family took a direct hit from a tornado on the south side of Chicago. Evergreen park to be exact and that reader's digest story. It just reinforces how lucky she was that day. There were three F four tornadoes that day in northern Illinois a trio of twisters that each had wind speeds between 206. And 260 miles per hour. It was part of a much bigger storm system that not only had a Chicago metro area that swept across an entire region of the midwest. One town is mentioned more than any other and that's because it was the hardest hit. Oakmont Illinois could certainly wasn't the only one damaged but the storm left much of the community unrecognizable. To understand how this outbreak occurred we decided to dig deep. Might argue is he warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chicago. He told us the winter of 1966. And 67 was a brutal one with a 68 point four inches of snow but. Things that kind of shifted the other direction and the week or so leading up to vehicles when he first of the area five straight days. That's to have highs in the seventy. Is happy April 13 through seventeen stretch there's even a eighty degree day in Rockford which for April is is that. Pretty rare not certainly unheard of but it but it is rare. And so. Friday which is April 21. Soledad we have noticed mild start in going to a mild start the weekend. There are lots of ingredients that have to come together in the atmosphere for a tornado outbreak. In science class they taught us warm moist air meets cold dry air but there's so much more to with a map on this April day. Everything fell into place. So we gotta circle saw coming out of this got a strong jet aloft with an upper trough that's the software northwest across the northern plains. By the time we get to the afternoon or in the warm sector with a warm front the north. Endure. Strong to severe thunderstorms that could develop early in the day across Missouri and those are racing North Sea. Through the afternoon so they they move into that. Southeast Iowa northeast and the series the west central Illinois through the early part of the afternoon and continued northeast across the northeast Illinois alternately. Brought us the tornado outbreak that that we are now remembering. You might call this severe weather setup the perfect storm or storms. There are 45 total tornadoes across five states 58 people died in northern Illinois. 33 of those and one community I'll climb and the reason the locals that lived through it still talk about it today is because since then there is never been a more violent tornado hit the Chicago metro area. Because it is. Helpful black cloud coming. So it is saying to pull into the hacking my opportunity and we go into hiding out and make bedtime. You can see the crowds that you're grown everything's back to tie things. And and really I just laid there and freed. And I looked out the things started to fly and I looked up losing the cars are people let them fly and through the I'd never seen I don't know how many guys are less than fifteen are running with people and I'm. And everything was flattened and I'm okay and in less than thirty seconds. Today yourself in the place of the victims who experience a tornadoes on April 21 1967. It's almost immensely transport yourself back to it completely different world. There's no FaceBook no Twitter no Internet no cable TV no cell phones. Just pay phones and land lines. Television was covering what happens but because commuters were heading home from work most people found out what was going on. By listening to the radio the monkeys were red hot that year. OK. Okay. This itself. The top forty station the music was playing. That Friday afternoon in the study grew dark and music will be the last thing. And anyone's mind yeah. Murdered earlier that nobody here at least it's. Out there was little reporting Lebanon feel. Nothing yet decided about the source I believe a little nagging. The Belvedere tornado did touchdown on your cherry Alley around 3:50 PM MF racist northeast. In the killing at twice for folks sick and injured somewhere around 500. Perhaps most notably thirteen of the fatalities were actually young children that were either on buses or at a high school which was. Hit directly by this tornado probably the biggest factor was. The kind of day. That timing couldn't be any worse than children being bussed home from school. According to the tornado project and this was the six the worst school death told from a tornado the F four twister was on the ground between 25 and 28 miles. Word spread about the major damage in Belvedere Illinois but the outbreak had just gotten under way. Lake Zurich in Barrington more in the path of another F. The war there that there's one fatality and around a hundred injured and that it did affect several subdivisions. There were kind of northwest of like the domains that are of that's the power Lake Zurich time. As the think that certainly I only are completely destroyed and another 200 herself had extensive damage. There's also a school that was destroyed and and there are also some new subdivisions that were not immediately in the path but they had body damage but a lot of deeply. Was strewn in the area that didn't actually direct damage but they had this. Debris and dust might argue at the National Weather Service he's poured over details of damage in data. He talked about other tornadoes and Cook County Illinois in 1957 and 1976. But nothing like us. And to my amazement. I thought that final that horrible. Looking. Twisting turning to turn and go outside the window but the end of her uncle's tornado. Work smarter and that's important. Everybody would make me. Her name is Bernadine eerie and her description of this guide paints a picture as if this had just happened yesterday. Acela radar has lit up at 4:45 PM it was eighteen miles west northwest of Joliet Illinois. And headed for the southwest suburbs of Chicago by five. A tornado warning was issued. At 5:24 PM the first reports of a funnel was called and from 99 street and willow springs road yeah mr. lace has a little red school house made the call. He said my ears popped the building Shaq and cars in the parking lot balanced. Three quarter inch hail proceeded to cloud and a cloud was moving rapidly. Seconds later the tornado touchdowns. The twister was uprooting trees damaging homes and hurling mud into the air. It crossed the tristate hallway then headed for the starlight drive in theater between 96 and 97 stream these. He'd be up bright neon displayed from the start like movie theater. I'm 95 street just a little bit left so prevalent. That's a west Erie Bernie dean's son he was in nine years old in 1967. They lived about a half mile from the tornado's path to drive in theater was going to be opening and a half hour that the storm dance of the screen steel supports. West amber radius homeless and heads but others weren't so lucky. As the tornado moved into the heart of oak lawn he was about to roll through the busy intersection at 95 in southwest highway clause which traffic. It shoots tavern regulars have gathered to have a drink and wind down after the long week. Unaware of how bad the storm was Delores shoot was inside with her daughter Kathy and her husband came the owner. In that moment of fire was finished two doors on each side of the building and they start door open and not a big collect stories in the front perform. So I went over and well good and I I looked up. And I saw the current form and thinks long and I must have worn backwards and in seconds everything was in shambles I I was blonde. And I was knocked unconscious. And all those people who. Ended up in the tavern. I woke up my face was buried in a war and stuck. And when I woke up I couldn't move as I was very Donnan has done it. And he come and tell me picture faith movement but I was very based on. We could look up into this part of the sky that was open where there wasn't a preeminent. And there was a car that was inching forward another driving that car. It came and it was in May and I don't know how many feet away he kind of came and crushed him because he couldn't. Delores believes there were fourteen people inside the tavern. Some of which students survived a restaurant motel food market in two gas stations were also level. I remember a grocery store near the intersection of 95 and southwest highway but the concrete floor that had plumbing sticking out of the concrete floor. And most of the rest of the building was gone I remember. Seeing the suburban transit system people which was ninety history maybe. Fifty Erin piece of that intersection. Where the buses and granted they're not as large as some of the metropolitan buses now but there's so Bob is. Stacked on top of each other like Lincoln line and you know sideways and crooked and whatnot. Who run our businesses. Like this engine. It was so loud you didn't it was coming currency so blind. And then just click through and it comes here and won't book blind high school. So it can't happen. There. They always swimming team had gotten out of the pool and they're part of that tornado came down with pitchforks. Extended actually took. The water out of the pool there is little time to find shelter with a powerful tornado ripping through Joseph Klein is sixty miles per hour. Call jagr was scrambling for a safe spot to hide he was the gymnastics coach at Oakmont high school that afternoon he had been working a track meet which had just finished. Thought coming. So I don't get ran over and we'll know the stairs. There's any time get away let me introduce. And got myself just didn't finish alone he's had some movement. Person under him while Oden watching current blow up. Brand new cars just always there. And hears this Blair and for spin around drive you know to drive away. All of a sudden dorm floor room behind me and cart champ car hit me with his shoulder. So it. One family just picked up their ten year old son from cub scouts and my dad pulled out of the driveway and we started going south on NASA's site to. The barbershop which is that magnitude and that sort. And it started this case I think I might add about are those spots in the real fast or something like that and he pulled up to new intersection 96 and assets like and it looks. To his rights and that was right when the tornado was hitting the ninety's it was southwest highway intersection where. A large majority appeal on that senator Kirk. It and that's when you protect our reverse pulled up alongside of building and told us all get down that's tendons heal if you hear their war approaching. And the what I remember most societies wars as Constance flashes of light. Come on I don't know where that was lightning flashes or our flashes from what you know but like holes coming down. And out Tulkarm moving up. And then. Sudden here's a large boom. And the car went back down. My dad and laid down in the front seat across much of sisters. And here we scored that when the storm it's happening he looked the window. Any Solomon and kitchen taking entry kind of a copycat. And that's when the law down. And they weren't seriously hurt in that in that apartment but there were walls installed on top of our car. And brought it back into the ground. And so whenever we know upstate tornados to hit it up and so on that somewhere in there and walk kept it. You know underground network nature's fury had spun right die remember sticking my head up to my house and yelling for help you figure upcoming album block. Troops from other process. So you actually saw workers at a nearby beauty salon and a whole lot of the car and also lessons and they're on there. Meanwhile my dad and my grandfather and and went down a lot to check my mom were still in the house. And we stayed there and beauty salons or not my bit before my dad and grandfather came back with my mama we knew that everybody's okay. The tornado was still on the ground at the half was starting to narrow. Was at the ends for would there be more. Just down the streets broadcast seeding grabbed his tape recorder and was watching this tornado approaching. We hear his actual firsthand audio after the break. Hi I'm Joan Lunden if you're worried about your parent or loved one living alone like I wise and you want reliable senior care information. Didn't call placed from mom and nation's largest senior living referral service. Finding an apartment that was on the court Eric with a view of the trees this year the tax to stream decree all of that. That was what I needed you'll get free information on assisted living and alzheimer's care nursing homes even important financial information here's the number. Speak with a local senior living advisor call plays for mom and 804797632. That's 804797632. Up. Place for mom is a free service and you can trust them they help you so if you're struggling to find reliable senior living information there's a place for answers a place for moms. He quit the local senior living advisor called plays for mom and 804797632. That's 804797632. A deadly tornado that appeared to weekend would take on a nightmarish forms. He was far from over the twister hit a roller rink claiming more lives but Cicero in 92 street. Just three blocks south. Robert key had taken his reel to reel tape recorder out door and. Okay. Okay. It's. He and it. Little did he know his practice recording for class to become a treasured piece of audio history hometown Illinois is a post World War II community of frame houses and duplex news. David Mets live Baird was about to have dinner with his parents. And I looked and there was this huge funnel cloud I remember very good to your car of any errors don't have a strange. Block stray cats end irons frozen. I was gonna say something about the power remember words Jesus Christ taught he snatched me. In wheat ridge across states. And I kept thinking it was closed up against Iowa where he is over because we always had trouble there. I just please. We give them their their mother was pregnant with my sister and brother was. It and we got close he. He closed he later and almost certainly hurt us. Creek. Ski class. It's just it's too deep into it was so intense. And your ears. Pops our rules it is true world but it. We heard things falling and it didn't it was quiet. The clock in hometown said 5:29 PM City Hall had been damaged. Just Isa 200 monuments were destroyed at Saint Mary's cemetery and nearly the tornado continued on to another cemetery an ever green we get. I think their run outside to get into duty to call eight. Maybe thirty seconds later it hits aid granted German shepherd and my irons and I get and I in my arms and I totally 100 car based. He could barely get a little door all the things. You know heat struggle it's maybe play eat we went into I looked nothing like dirt and metal content vendors won't outdoor signs treatment. Diane George was a student at south point high school in 1967. She and her family lived at 88 in Albany in evergreen park. Then I'm gonna hit having she had a concussion and cuts Lleyton. Might get a cut and hand from opening their speech next door. I had volley everything's German shepherd in mines aren't aren't asking to get as well did your case. And I fell onto a relaxed too nice for that had been chopped in half. And it went into my thought on that night and pretty fiery end and I realized if I had gone outlined what it would have gone into my dad and my heart tells luckily ET. It went my bottom. I planted blew us. And I went terribly lasted about. Two minutes. Dairy dairy donkey I get help your heart is correct it's when it was over there and how much crying and I realize I'm bleeding. He and Mike and opens it through the door it's really cold on the front nine innings. Electric flag to light electric wires are trying Oliver. He finally get out to enjoy relay how to craft threw it on our next story route its kind and not get a lot of windows time. But in our candidate. Okay contenders. Culture we know it's an independent carrier piece she doesn't mind he moved to Italy game and that. Real I think in terms had been hit and timely kids to unite and ambulances come down any time three barely did get down. So we jumped into the ambulance and Cellini Airways. Kate they accompany their hospital. What seems like forever was only minutes and seconds. It was 532. And I size 35 this tornado crossed the Dan Ryan expressway hurling debris onto the roadway. It would be closed for hours four minutes later that tornado began the weekend. More damage had been done at a water filtration plant at 78 and the Lakefront. Meanwhile everyone affected by the twister was distraught some lost their place to land others had no way to travel and worse. Fearing their loved ones might not have survived. Back issues tavern anchor to volunteer firefighters had rescue Delores. But she was separated from her family she held out hope they might be in the hospital. And I'm looking for my husband and I am looking for my daughter. Had fun my husband he was. In a body hair. And then I have time. My daughter. Arizona for none of for Ford Explorer. And I saw this aids in an area. She hit a lot at him on hand she's so we'll check that China will want to this school girl I couldn't it is my daughter's mind. And her daughter Cassie was their lives but critically injured. Two days later. Kathy passed away. And Diane George. She needed treatment for her injuries to have. Those crazy it would setting up a tree action. And they're little kids getting all of rare bleeding in their race with roller skate and remembered the most. I had a great big dish towel shoved in my act I get out of my skirt. And standing and I felt you know lake and let it go and I. But originally released sad to see other people lenient crying and non helping nurses helping Italy it was wild. In the streets in vocal on a total chaos everyone's lives have been turned upside down. Never ceases to amaze me how. You're able to do anything. Organization. Functional organization. Capsule and added it's. People were showing up you know work. Seminar on the wall doing something. Everett states with the Oakland building and zone director. With power poles down everywhere he put a major strain on rescue efforts to him. I'm the messenger and for a change. Whenever he. Generators. What. Northern Africa must invest. He had thousands you know dance well. We had no electrical power halfway homes. Could be gasoline out of so by 1230. When all the senators supplies were full details. Oh and the telephone. Ross vice president standard oil on the kind of bad and explains what our travel wise and we were desperately need ample. Regular apple canceling or all of our way. As our squad cars starting around while the ambulances was right on the fire trucks which. I mean you hit a song. With the NRA Pena daddy. And I'm ready insurer. With no power panic and a push for information. Everett had another duty the worst of all accounting for those who didn't make yes. You can count the whole. But periodically. What pieces. Try to manage. Multiple hole. Be able to get extra people. And yeah. Stayed. Wild fire department was going through rubble looking for. Survivors. Scheduled. People right next to them gun sales moving. Buildings simultaneous. Part of this happens. People who were ordered. Can lose sight. Radio station newscasts were echoing the police wouldn't tolerate looting. There was too much pain and too much lost to bear anymore remember the owner of the choral theater Robert key who would capture that audio recording of the tornado. He had a large family at home and had no idea if they were okay. What sort. Absolutely unbelievable. Its. It's total. OK. Okay. I'm coming possibility would be for me going to finish but trying to. Something different story. And through some. Right well. We're still down. Kind of no it. It's. Completely it's. A beautiful world. This track all the way from the southwest suburbs all clear across the dense population. I've been yourself suburbs of Chicago through the farce southern part. The city and hopefully out over the lake and and kept going before it dissipated. All that and of course about fifteen or twenty minutes which is pretty impressive. 1967 is still considered northern Illinois worst tornado disaster yeah. There are those things in life that you never forgets. The space shuttle. But of course you're looking very carefully that situation. Obviously later malfunction. 9/11. Oh my goodness of god there's another. Oh my goodness there's another thing CB on purpose oh my goodness you and now it's obvious I think JFK's assassination of the flash apparently official. President Kennedy died at 1 PM central standard time. And if you lived in Illinois on April 21 in 1967. And a tornado outbreak is ads in your mind. Forever ice. I get to realize that I think I can make it do just about anything. Even that tornado like it wasn't afraid he just didn't had to do need to pace yourself and take care of everybody eat and care about everybody. Now I acknowledge everybody you know I think people are more afraid of tornados back and I do feel like I have like ten cents an hour. When no real tornado kind of common lunch and I guess just. Feel like I know what it what it is like. Tornado talk is written resurgent produced by Jennifer Barrymore and Dan Holliday. Audio courtesy of the Oakland library and WC FL. We explore and investigate nature's most fascinating phenomenon on every episode of tornado time. Catch up on past episodes by Vincent listening anytime online at tornado talk dot com.