"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.

Twin Tornadoes - Eyewitness Account

Submitted by James A. Faigh

When they announced that a tornado had touched down at the Midway Trailer Park my father and two of my siblings hopped in the car and drove to the site. My father was the sales director at WTRC and possessed a press pass. The deputy at the road block allowed us in. Sheriff Caton, who was a close friend of my father, quickly commandeered my father along with others to help the injured and retrieve the dead.

My brother and myself continued to watch the skies to the west. The clouds continued to form spirals, descending down but retracting. But soon a tunnel began to form and continued to descend. Both my brother and I alerted all that a tornado was approaching. Because there were no structures left ,alone the cinderblock utility building, the deputies ordered everyone to cross US 33 and lay in the ditch beside the railroad tracks. This was the lowest ground near. When it was apparent that the tornado was tracking south towards us we were ordered to take shelter behind the only structure still standing, a small utility cinder block building.

Photo taken by Paul Huffman
Source: NOAA Photo Library
I remember being one to take shelter first and that a group from a church bus, that been stopped and evacuated, had piled on to us. The sound was unforgettable, it was that of 10 locomotives, bearing down on us, the church patrons praying for God to save them and me, praying that several layers of people on top of me would save my fate. Moments later the deputies announced that the tornado was moving away from us. We emerged and watched the rare site of a tornado split into two and become a twin. That was the moment that Paul Huffman, Truth photographer, took his famous photograph. Incidentally, Paul misidentified the tornado as the one that destroyed Midway Trailer Court and that misinformation has been repeated over the years. To this day, Paul contends it to be true, but since I was there I can assure you that the Midway was destroyed by the earlier tornado We stood in awe, as we watched from a distance, the twins crossed US 33 into the Sunnyside addition and reapt destruction and death. Later we were able to return home to our mother who was visibly and verbally upset, but we soon discovered that it was her fear for our safety that invoked her emotions .

That week was a paramount in my life, as a student at Pierre Moran Jr High School, we were excused from classes because the gym was used as a morgue, as a boy scout, my troop volunteered to help clean up the destruction. I even have memories of a 2x4 board bisecting a VW Bug lengthwise.

When I was young I remember a "old indian saying" that Elkhart was safe because a tornado would never strike where two rivers met. Well I guess that remains true because the tornado struck in Dunlap. But I was foolish to jump into the back of my father's car that Palm Sunday afternoon.

Tornadoes continued to develop, and the only F5 tornado [later downgraded to F4] of the day occurred near Elkhart, Ind. Some accounts indicated the famous "double tornado" hit the Sunnyside subdivision killing 36 people, while other eyewitnesses said it actually hit the Midway trailer park.

1 comment :

  1. That "old indian saying" has been debunked *many* times.