originally published in
p. B-1, Thursday
August 26, 1999
|All was not lost after the tornado
by Carol Yoho
The house I grew up in was destroyed in the Topeka tornado of June 8, 1966. Shortly after 7 p.m. the storm roared around Burnett's Mound, ran diagonally through town, and finally dispersed in northeast Topeka, near Billard Airport.
Our house was centered in the storm's path southwest of Washburn University.
Our immediate family was not together at the time of the storm, so we spent the first hour trying to find each other. Finally together, delighted that we were physically safe, we were too numb to know what to do next. Then our relatives began arriving.
My dad and his brothers worked through the night. The storm area had been sealed off at dark in an attempt to prevent looting. Dad got passes allowing his family into the neighborhood. They sorted through the debris and rescued what was salvable.
Mother and I stayed with my grandmother in North Topeka that first night. By the next morning my aunts had gathered at an uncle's house and were doing loads of laundry and attempting to wash mud off furniture and other household items.
The garage had fallen on our little blue car. My uncles moved the debris. Four uncles picked up the car by the corners, lifted it, and set it down in the driveway. Dad got in and started the engine. The body listed badly to port, but the car ran. They drove it around the house twice, laughing.
The tornado twisted trees, snatched the grass out
by the roots, and covered our world in mud. Several days after the storm
I stood talking with a next door neighbor when something in the mud caught
my eye. I fished it out, and immediately recognized my mother's wedding
See 1966 Topeka Capital-Journal tornado photos.