BRISTOL — Susan Briner looked at photos of the destruction from the tornadoes that hit Elkhart County 49 years ago on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965.
The photos and newspaper accounts from The Goshen News, The Elkhart Truth and South Bend Tribune were on display at the Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol.
Briner attended a Palm Sunday Remembrance event Sunday afternoon.
“We lived at Midway Trailer Court in Dunlap and we lost our home,” Briner said. “If we were at home, we’d be dead. I have no doubt about that.”
The tornadoes destroyed the trailer court.
“Things can be replaced and people can’t. I’m thankful we were OK,” Briner said. “My son Michael (Worgan) was 6 months old at the time. We found two pairs of his pants and they were filled with tiny little holes like sand had got them. That was an interesting time.”
Museum Curator of Education Patrick McGuire had a moment of silence for the residents of Elkhart County who died in the tornadoes on Palm Sunday.
He shared with the audience that Elkhart County was among the hardest hit during the storms and the tornadoes were rated at a F4 scale, which meant the winds were clocked at 207 to 260 miles per hour.
McGuire said that 11 days after the tornadoes happened, a plastic bottle with a Goshen address on the label was found 60 miles away in Sturgis, Mich.
“It was the first warm day of spring, a rather warm day and it wasn’t until 6 p.m. when the first warnings came out and the tornadoes hit near Wakarusa at 6:15 p.m. and ended near Middlebury,” McGuire said. “It destroyed Midway Restaurant that was at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Ind. 15. The only things that remained standing were the stools that people sat on (inside the restaurant). It shows the craziness of the tornadoes.”