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Residents remember the horrific Beecher tornado on its 60th anniversary

Damage from the Beecher, Michigan tornado of 1953

Today is the 60th anniversary of the tornado that ravaged the small community of Beecher, Michigan. According to Jake May at MLive, the F5 tornado killed 116 people and destroyed nearly 350 homes.

Check out a video created by the Flint Journal that documents people’s story from the tragic event:

Blake Thorne of MLive wrote a dramatic account of the tornado with testimonies from people who watched it happen:

Nobody saw it coming. It was a calm and uneventful evening until 8:30 p.m. on June 8, 1953. Then, without warning, a tornado touched down by a drive-in theater near Coldwater and Linden roads. As it made its way down Coldwater Road, John Turbin's whole house began to shake. The most violent tornado so far in American history was heading their way. Turbin watched a fully grown maple tree spin and twist out of the ground like a screw and fly away. Boards were falling from his ceiling. He tried to open the front door. "A giant hand" pushed him back, sending him flying back into the kitchen and against the stove. The noise was picking up now, louder and louder, deafening. The house could fall apart at any minute. Turbin looked to his wife and sister sitting at the kitchen table, his brother in law, Chris, in the dining room. "Let's get out of here!" he shouted, and he grabbed a 2x4, smashing a dining room window.

Read Thorne’s full article here.
And check out MLive’s timeline of the event and a “then and now” photo slideshow.
The Beecher tornado remains one of the nation’s most deadly.
- Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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