"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.
We Traveled Between the Two Tornadoes
Submitted by Vyv Dunlap
I was 11 years old. My family (my parents, my younger sister and myself) had been visiting family for the weekend near Muncie. I remember that it had been a warm, sunny and very humid day for April.
Our trip home was uneventful until we were almost to Goshen. The skies to the west were very dark and it had begun to rain.
At one point while still downtown in Goshen we had to pull over because it was raining so hard. (no FM radio so the static on our AM radio made it impossible for my father to understand the reports.) We continued and all the while, I had my eyes glued to the sky. I had been studying basic weather in my 5th grade science class at school and was fascinated with Meteorology. The different cloud formations were fresh in my mind and these were not the nice ones.
|Detail of Paul Huffman's infamous photo|
The next events all come together in my mind. It all happened so fast. As we are sitting there along the road, I could see the flash of transformers when the tornado crossed over the tracks although, I didn't see when it split into the twins. It just looked horrible and large, so much larger than the pictures of tornadoes in our science books. I will never forget seeing a small car pass us super fast heading right toward the storm when it was just forming! I remember thinking…Where were they going? How could they not see what was happening? And later thinking…Did they get caught in it? Were they okay?
We were only off the road for what seemed like a second before my father and other people that had pulled off all seemed to turn cutting right across the road all at the same time driving right up to a house on the other side. I could hear my mother frantically telling my sister and me to get down on the floor of the backseat but dad was saying we need to get out of the car. I was terrified. I could feel the wind right at first because it shook our car, but I don't remember hearing anything...it seemed so surreal. From the floor of the back seat, I remember looking up toward the sky and seeing "stuff" (debris) floating up into the sky as high as I could see. We were about to get out of the car to run to the house when I think he said...no, it's okay, it’s going the other way.
|Photo Source NOAA Archives|
|Click to Enlarge|
When we were just past Sunnyside in Dunlap, we ran into more torrential rain and now so much hail it looked like it was snowing! We stopped at a friend of our family's home off Oakland Avenue to get out of the storm, listen to the news and I think for my parents to collect themselves. From there we learned that there had been reports of several and there was another tornado right now on the ground south along CR 26 heading northeast. It was far enough away and moving away from us but, we were still able to see it from the kitchen window! We learned later that another family friend lost his home from this one but was uninjured.
By the time we got home that evening the news was coming in of all of the storms. So many lives lost or presently missing...so much destruction and sadness. So much...
We did not have a basement in our home. So for the next several years whenever the sirens were heard or the firetrucks came down our quiet street with their loud speakers warning us to "take cover" (no matter what time of the day or night) we would run across the street to our neighbors to get into their basement. Our life had been so sheltered and quiet before this, my sister and I were traumatized. Storms sent us into a panic. My parents were calmer but we could sense their panic as well. If we were affected I know others were even more so, especially if they had lost so much more... their home or loved ones!
|Dunlap - Palm Sunday Tornado Memorial|
I was determined to learn as much as I could about weather after that. I have calmed over the years but when I hear of someone (not referring to the scientists) trying to "outrun" or challenge a bad storm...I think back to how powerful this storm was and I sadly shake my head at what seems to be stupidity.
We were fortunate because we were not caught directly in the path of any of the tornadoes. I thank God for His protection.
As a family, we have looked back and see how close we came to the one at Midway Trailer Park...and after missing that one almost running into in the second in Dunlap. Timing wise: Had we not stopped in Goshen to look at the one passing overhead (which we learned later touched down at St. Rd. 15 & U.S. 20) we might have been more directly involved with the one at Midway. Had we not left Midway when we did...we would have been involved with the one in Dunlap, which was happening less than two miles behind us when we drove through the hail storm. We literally traveled between the two tornadoes. I shutter, even today...thinking about it. It just helps me to remind myself to thank God.....In all things...great or small...wonderful or not.
We will forever be changed and reminded of that horrible day whenever there is a storm or warning issued...or we hear news of a tornado somewhere. Although, I gained a very keen curiosity and limited knowledge of our weather and how it works...I didn't become a Meteorologist but I will always respect the power and capable fury as much as the breathtaking beauty of nature that God created.