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Let’s Talk: Night of the Twisters

Written by Leslie Means

Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the “The Night of the Twisters” when 7 tornadoes hit Grand Island, Nebraska killing 5 and injuring 200.

NTV’s Kent Boughton gave us permission to use his words – and words from viewers who remember that fateful night.  Below are memories shared.  Were you there?  Do you remember this night?  If not, have you been through a tornado?  

Kent Boughton:  “I was on the air until 3:30 AM on KHAS-TV fronting video & stories from reporters returning from the devastation. This only known picture (the feature image seen above) was ironically taken by Rod Gartner who was an upper classmate of mine from GI Senior High. There were 3 F-1’s, 1 F-2, 2 F-3’s & 1 F-4 that ravaged the third city. Three of the tornadoes were rare anticyclonic twisters that moved clockwise instead of the common counter clockwise motion. 

Brenda Kucera:   I’ll never forget that night. It was the night of my bridal shower. As Mom & I left the shower on Michigan Avenue in Capital Heights, the sky was black and the tornado sirens started blaring. We drove to our house on the same street as the shower, and went straight to the basement with the gifts still packed in the car. We had picture windows on the north & south side of the house. When the tornado hit our house, the picture windows blew in and there was a big hole in the roof so there was insulation and glass everywhere. But most of our house was still intact. My Dad went out and got 3 families across the street and brought them into our basement. The house directly across the street from ours was leveled at the foundation, and then it skipped a house, and leveled the next 2 houses. I’ll never forget how eerie the next few days were, and how good that sandwich from the Red Cross tasted. I still have my restricted area pass that I had to show to the National Guard whenever I drove into my neighborhood. By the way, the wedding went on as planned, and July 19th will be our 33rd anniversary.

Shelly Andrade:  I was five and in the bath when the sirens went off. Had to hide in the closet (no time for clothes). Tornado #4 hit and picked up our house and set it on our garage. We were lucky and did not get hurt. Came out of the closet through the wall and saw a tree in the living room. Had to run down the street in the hail and glass. A neighbor took us in and gave me clothing. Still have flash backs of not being able to breathe. If it were not for my mother bracing her legs across and piling us on top, we would have been sucked out the bottom and not be here today.

Phylis Sullivan:  I remember seeing the storm move in from the north which was really strange. Then my Mom and I went out to the front yard to watch the storm and lightening struck really close as in there wasn’t any time between the flash and the boom! So we went inside. Shortly after the sirens went off. We went down to the basement coal room. I remember it being really loud and then my ears popped and it got quiet. One of the tornadoes path ended just past our house. We lost some trees and one of them landed on the neighbors house. It seemed as if the sirens would never stop. I didn’t sleep until sunrise. I was so afraid they were going to come back. Hard to believe it was 33 years ago.

Linda Waechter:  I watched them from south of Blue Hill. We were at Bible Study and since it was such a hot, sticky night we sat on the deck and watched the horrific lightning and churning clouds. We didn’t realize at the time what we were watching until husbands started calling us. This was 50 miles away and we could still see it!

Were you there?  Share your memories with us.  Read more comments from that night, on Kent Boughton’s Facebook Page.  

Click here to find out how you can help bring smiles to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado, and read more history of Nebraska tornadoes – here.  

About the author

Leslie Means

Leslie is the co-founder and owner of Her View From Home.com. She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well.

She is married to a very patient man. Together they have two pretty fantastic little girls ages 8 and 6 and one little dude born March 2017!

When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.

3 Comments

  • I was there and six months pregnant with my first child. My apartment was in a damaged area and I couldn’t go home for days and had to go through Nebraska National Guard posts to get there. We were without electricity for days. Truly, one of the scariest situations I have ever been in!