"Death Out Of Darkness" is a public safety documentary about the deadly tornadoes of the 11-April-1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, which affected portions of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The film primarily focuses on the devastation across Northern and Central Indiana. Produced in 1966 by the Indiana State Police and WISH-TV in Indianapolis, narrated by Lt. Dave Levendoski. Video from visualarchivist on YouTube. There were 47 tornadoes in less than 12 hours. This was the 3rd deadliest tornado swarm in U.S. history. See Also: Ted Fujita


Below are personal recounts of the event. They have been submitted to us by our readers. If you would like to submit your story or photos please click the link in the upper right side of this blog.

CB Radios, a Bicycle & Horrific Tornado Damage

Submitted by Dennis Laffin

I was 17 at the time and lived on the East end of Mishawaka. I remember walking home from our church service and noticing the sky to the South was very dark and had a strange looking greenish cast to it that I had never seen before or since.

I turned on my CB (citizens band) radio when I got home and started to call a friend. Those were the days when CB radios were popular and many people used them for communications. A neighbor came on the radio and told me to stay off the radio because a tornado went through South of town and it was being used for emergency communications. I listened to the CB radio all that evening and late into the night monitoring the communications. All phone communications were down in the area so many people were relying on their CB radios to request help and to check on their relatives and friends. They were also setting up shelters for people in the effected areas. I helped relay some emergency messages myself that night. CB and Amateur radios really proved their worth during the Palm Sunday tornado by coordinating efforts, getting help into the area, and providing health and welfare information. I did not have my amateur radio license at the time but I heard amateur radio operators also did a lot helping with communications. If a similar situation occurred today I would be better prepared to help since I now have an amateur radio license and radios. VHF and UHF amateur radios can provide more effective communication and amateur radio operators are better organized than CB radio.

The next morning I wanted to see what had happened so I got on my bicycle and rode South to Woodland and Wyatt. Then I peddled all the way to Dunlap before heading home. There were road blocks up on most of the roads but I just rode around them and nobody really paid any attention to a kid on a bicycle.

Tornado aftermath at Alto, Indiana
What I saw was unbelievable and I'll never forget the sights I saw that day. I saw many destroyed houses, barns and garages. I recall seeing brick houses with the bricks removed but most of the house still standing. I saw cars and trucks that looked like they had been tossed around like toys, some sticking out of what was left of the houses they had been blown into. I saw where asphalt had been lifted off the road surface. There was debris all over everywhere; broken boards, twisted pieces of metal, remnants of furniture and appliances and anything you could think of scattered all over. I saw pieces of straw sticking out of telephone polls that were broken off. There were huge I & M electric line towers twisted and laying on their sides. I saw a destroyed grain mill with grain spread all around. I went by a woods where you could clearly see a double tornado went through. There were two large paths of devastation through the woods with trees still standing in between the two paths although most of the standing trees also had many broken off limbs. There were electric and telephone lines down all over. I saw people starting to dig through what was left of their homes and I saw many fire, police, and emergency service personnel and their vehicles in the areas I rode through all trying to help those who's homes were destroyed.

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