Striking with terrific force and without warning, a tornado swept through the western side of Greenwood shortly before ten o'clock last night, completely demolishing three residences, several Negro cabins and outhouses, and doing more or less serious damage to a score or more houses in its path.
No one was seriously hurt in the wreckage, though several miraculous escapes from death or serious injury occurred.
The twister came from the southwest, striking first near the home of J. R. Shurden, south of the C & G railroad tracks, and sweeping with its full force a path some fifty feet wide and with lesser force some 150 feet in width across Leflore Avenue, Strong Avenue and River Road. It continued across the Yazoo River and apparently lifted from the ground before reaching the Tallahatchie River.
The heaviest force of the wind was felt south of Leflore Avenue. The J. R. Shurden home, across the tracks at the foot of Sixth Street, was completely wrecked, leaving nothing but the brick pillars and a pile of debris to tell that a house once stood in that spot.
A freak of the storm saved the lives of the Shurden family. Mrs. Shurden and two children, aged seven and four, awakened in the rain some twenty feet from where the house stood, still in their bed. Ten feet to the right of them lay the floor of the house, picked completely from its foundation and deposited almost intact on the ground. A few feet to the left of the bed in which the three were sleeping, the roof and walls of the house were piled. No debris fell on the bed and neither of the three was injured. Mr. Shurden, sleeping on a davanette, was blown with his bed some forty feet from the ruins of the house and was also uninjured.
Striking the railroad track, the wind overturned a camp car on a siding, and the car was left in a barrow pit with its wheels high in the air.
The home of Walter Shurden, on Sixth Street, was crushed by the wind; the rooms and walls falling inward, covering the occupants, all of whom escaped unhurt. The Walter Shurden house was torn from its foundation and dropped twenty feet away and piled against the residence occupied by Mr. and Mrs. J. V. Ricks. The Ricks home was knocked from its pillars, the walls falling inward. Mrs. Ricks was knocked unconscious, but revived and her escape from the wreckage.
At the J. R. Shurden home, furniture and clothing and all household effects were scattered over a wide area by the wind. At the home of Walter Shurden and Mr. Ricks, everything was buried beneath the caved in walls and roofs.
Rising slightly from the ground, the wind tore the roof from the apartment house owned by Max Williams on Leflore Avenue and occupied by J. A. Atkinson and his family. The heavy rain, which followed the wind, poured into the house to complete the wreckage.
Across the street from the Atkinson home, the home of Mrs. J. E. Cunningham was unroofed, the porch blown down, and the house twisted and torn by the wind. Several other houses on either side lost chimneys.
A roof torn from one of the demolished buildings was deposited on a garage in the rear of the residence of Frank Gardner, which also lost a chimney and sustained considerable roof damage.
Front porch pillars were torn from their places at the homes of T. M. Curry and S. S. Wood on Strong Avenue, and garages and servant's houses in the rear were blown down.
On River Road, garages in the rear of the homes of Albert J. Brewerton, Dr. W. E. Denman, and Dr. R. B. Yates were demolished, a car turned upside down, and the homes were damaged. At the Brewerton home, windows were blown out and the furniture strewn around.
At the Denman home, the roof was damaged, and a heavy plank blown through the window of the bedroom in which Dr. Denman was sleeping. The Yates home sustained heavy damage to the roof.
Shrubbery was uprooted along the path of the storm on the south side of the river, and wires, alive with electricity, were strewn about the streets, rendering early checking up dangerous. The streets were littered with debris.
The path of the storm crossed the river, striking with full force a Negro cabin west of W. C. Peel's home, and leveling it to the ground. The Negroes were not at home. A cottonseed house back of Mr. Peels' was blown down, and damage was done to outhouses at the home of W. E. Lott. The garage of Fred Deupree was blown over in North Greenwood.
The wind had begun to lose its force in North Greenwood and wreckage carried was deposited over a wide expanse of territory.
A tin roof was picked up from a gin south of the C & G railroad tracks, and pieces of it strewn for over a mile. Many houses were pierced by boards borne by the wind, and trees showed twisted limbs. Houses, which showed no other damage, found chimneys leveled and a front porch column was blown from the two-story Kimbrough apartment on Strong Avenue.
Property damage was estimated at $100,000.
Some minor injuries were reported, but nobody was seriously injured. Mrs. M. G. Peart, Strong Avenue, was cut from glass from a window, and Mrs. Ricks was slightly hurt in the collapse of her home.
Freaks of the storm were apparent when daylight came. One electric light pole showed the effects of a board having been blown through it. At the Brewerton home on River Road, a rocking chair from the front porch was carried through the house and left upside down in a side room. A piece of the tin roof from a gin was found wrapped completely around a pole in the air, and at the home of Frank Gardner, a pile of gravel was dropped through a hole in the roof.
The wind was followed by a terrific downpour of rain, which flooded the damaged houses.
The storm struck without warning and was past in a few seconds. The downpour of rain drowned the sounds of the wind and people a few hundred feet from the path of the wind were unaware of their narrow escape.
From The Greenwood Commonwealth, March 31, 1933