The April 3, 1956 Tornado Outbreak

The Aftermath

Damage from April 3, 1956 TornadoThe response to the disaster began as soon as the tornado winds abated. People climbed out of their basements and checked on their family members and neighbors.

Hospitals began receiving a steady influx of injured. From the hardest hit areas of Hudsonville, the injured were brought to the house of a local doctor named Hagar and were quickly examined and sent off to various hospitals from there depending on the extent of their injuries. Despite many serious injuries, only one fatality was recorded after April 3rd, a testament to the prompt care given to many of the injured.

Damage from April 3, 1956 TornadoThe large scale recovery efforts also began that night. The search for the victims continued through the night and into the next morning. The National Guard was activated immediately after the tornado moved through. Civil defense, Red Cross and Salvation Army efforts began that night and would continue for many days as the recovery and rebuilding process began.

Damage from April 3, 1956 TornadoAlong the path of the tornadoes, people began to rebuild. The debris, which used to be homes and buildings, but was now reduced to kindling scattered across the countryside, was gathered up and burned. Homes and farms were repaired and rebuilt.

Damage from April 3, 1956 TornadoEven the devastation that was the business district of Standale was cleaned up and construction began almost immediately. The job was monumental and roadblocks were maintained to prevent traffic jams in the affected areas. Only residents and construction crews were allowed to move through. Special passes, signed by the sheriff, were required to enter the hard hit areas where the bulk of the rebuilding occurred. Traffic jams of sightseers often resulted as soon as roads were opened to traffic.

Pass required to access damage sitesAs spring turned into summer, the rebuilding progressed, the injured healed, and the shock of the storms slowly wore off. But the landscape, and dozens of people’s lives, had been deeply scarred and in some cases shattered.

Fifty years later, many people still have vivid memories of the event and still feel uneasy when the storm clouds build and the sky grows dark.

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