Anniversary Of Deadly Tornado Outbreak
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the deadliest tornado outbreak in Iowa history. Two F5 tornadoes caused millions of dollars in damage to some northeast Iowa cities, killed 16 people and injured hundreds more.
Just a few minutes before 5 PM on May 15, 1968, one of the deadly twisters touched down just southwest of Oelwein. The tornado carved a path of destruction through the middle of town, destroying 51 businesses and 68 homes. Among the debris were two churches, an elementary school and a middle school building.
One person died of her injuries in Oelwein.
That tornado moved northeast to Maynard, flattening the west side of town, and killing two people.
Just minutes before the Oelwein tornado, another F5 twister hit Charles City. The Floyd County tornado killed 13 people and destroyed 372 homes. Also destroyed were 58 businesses, along with eight churches and three schools.
Total damage from the two tornadoes was estimated at more than $50 million.
In all, five tornadoes touched down in Iowa that day -- part of an outbreak of 39 tornadoes that struck 10 states. Then-President Lyndon Johnson declared the state of Iowa as a disaster area.