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The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949, page 1.:
'Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District:
Many Homes Damaged;   Hundreds of Trees Ruined by Destructive Tornado Friday Evening.'

The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949, page 1.

Twister Wrecks Wilmore Business District

Many Homes Damaged; Hundreds of Trees Ruined by Destructive Tornado Friday Evening
Shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday evening, May 20, 1949, a tornado struck Wilmore, destroying property over the entire town and almost completely wrecking the business district of the town. The twister was preceded by a heavy rain and some hail fell after it passed on. In all, it lasted less than five minutes. The tornado hit with such suddenness that many people did not have time to seek shelter in cellars and basements, and many watched the progress of the storm from their homes. Some families had the presence of mind to lie falt on the floor and so escaped injury.

C.O. Masterson had been watching the threatening clouds from his home on the hill and was able to warn others of the approach of the storm.

Fortunately, no lives were lost nor injuries reported. The property loss, however, has been estimated at $150,000.00 and possibly more. Insurance adjustors arrived Monday and began their juob of adjusting the damages.

The tornado came from the south-west, following the creek and cutting a clean sweep of trees there. As it hit the business section, it leveled many places of business. Among those it hardest was the Wilmore Hardware and Implement Company. Its entire building was completely wrecked and the building material scattered over a wide area.

Richardson's Grocery and the adjoining building which houses the Richardson apartment and the former barber shop. Mr. and Mrs. Richardson were in the apartment at the time but were uninjured.

Baker's Garage and Service Station was extensively damaged and the hotel owned by Dale Goeller lost a part of the roof and the rest was left sagging and badly torn up. The Wilmore Cafe escaped with a hole torn in the front and considerable damage at the rear. Plate glass windows in the Champlin Service Station were broken and apartments in the rear were also damaged by flying cement blocks. The Snyder family were in the apartment at the time but were not hurt. Across the street, the Barnes Service Station was completely demolished.

The D-Lux Grocery suffered very little loss except for a hole blowin in the side of the store room by a cement block from the Wilmore Hardware nearly a block away.

The Wilmore State Bank building suffered damage to the roof, ceiling and chimney and the bank moved into quarters in the back room of the bank until repairs can be made. The Bowersock Lumber and Hardware in the west part of town was wrecked, plate glass windows were broken and the roof torn off.

The amount of damage done to the Home Grain Company has not been determined but the buildings have apparentlly been moved from their foundations.

Part of the roof was ripped from the Santa Fee depot and a box car damaged.

The telephone office was not hurt badly but all rural and town lines were down.

A steel bin at the Bowersock elevator was wrenched loose, a shed wrecked and smaller bins blown away.

In addition the the havoc wrough in the business section, very few houses were left untouched. The M.T. Downing residence in the southwest part of town was the hardest hit, the roof being blown off and the house moved and the house moved halfway off its foundation and windows broken out. Mr. Downing and his dog were in the house at the time. The Lester Trummel home was covered with huge limbs from the lovely old trees in their yard, with resulting serious damage to their roof. The Jess Wedel home was another casualty. Nearly every house in town showed the effects of the storm. Chimneys were blown over, chicken houses, garages and barns destroyed or unroofed.

At the Huck farm east of town both house and farm buildings were left badly in need of repair. At the Earl Ferrin farm the barn and implement shed were destroyed and large trees uprooted there and at the Wendel and Delmar Ferrin home.

The Dewey Healen trailer house, unoccupied at the time, was crushed at one end by a tree. Cars parked outside received numerous dents. Forrest Woods' car, parked east of the Wilmore Hardware building, was a total loss.

Of the church buildings, the Methodist church suffered the most, losing all its beautiful stained glass windows and receiving many holes in the roof. The other churches also had roof and other damage.

At the high school building, windows were broken and the fire escape twisted. The year-old building housing the lunch room and buses was a total loss and the buses were also somewhat damaged. Hundreds of trees all over town were uprooted and torn up, and the task of moving them from the streets and yards has been an enormous one. Before this can be finished, it will be necessary to cut down many that cannot be saved. However, the streets were cleared by Monday evening. Early Saturday morning, volunteer workers came in bringing tractors and trucks to help clear the trees out of the streets. By noon, 12 tractors and 6 trucks were busy. Several worked on through Sunday.

The Red Cross served lunch Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Wires bringing electrical power into town were down until Monday afternoon causing a shortage of lights, power and water.

Each night the streets have been patrolled to guard the wrecked buildings from pilferers. On Saturday, the V.F.W. of Coldwater relieved the local men.

Wilmore residents are still jittery from the experience, watching closely any ominous clouds. A number took refuge in basements and cellars again on Monday evening when dark clouds began to pile up in the west.

Wilmore people are grateful to the many volunteer workers who have come in and given of their time; especially to the farmers who donated their time and equipment to help in the job of cleaning up. Everyone has been so willing to help and cooperate.


The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949, page 1.

Red Cross Disaster Assistance Program

The American Red Cross Disaster Relief program includes two types of assistance -- emergency relief and rehabilitation aid. The first comes after the emergency, when all effort is directed towards meeting the immediate needs of the disaster stricken area. The second comes soon after, that of permanent rehabilitation. Families affected by the disaster who are unable through their own efforts to meets their disaster-caused needs will find the Red Cross standing by to help. Rehabilitation assistance may include maintenance, clothing, furniture and other household furnishings, building and repair of homes, farm supplies and equipment and supplies.

Basis for Assistance

The disaster caused need of a family is the basis upon which assistance is given. Some people who have lost heavily are able to stand their losses financially and therefore will have no need which they are unable to meet. However, some after taking into consideration all their resources - cash, credit earnings, insurance and other benefits - may realize that they are unable to re-establish themselves, and to them Red Cross will be glad to extend a helping hand.

Individual Consideration

Each case is considered separately to determine the essential needs. Each appicant will be asked to supply certain information in order than an investigation may be made and the facts presented to a local advisory committee which will make recommendations to the National Red Cross. Of course, all information is strictly confidential. When a fair and adequate award is determined, the amount allocated for goods or services is a gift, not a loan, to the applicant from the American people who give each year in order than Disaster assistance may be rendered.

Disaster Headquarters

Red Cross Disaster Headquarters have been established at The Wimore State Bank since that is centrally located in the area most affected. Mrs. F. H. Moberly is acting as local representative there. However, Bill Brewer may be contacted in Coldwater. Either Mrs. Moberly or Mr. Brewer will be glad to discuss disaster problems and to accept applications for Red Cross assistance between May 27 and June 3.


The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949, page 1.

Emergency Service of Red Cross at Wilmore

Comanche County Chapter of the American Red Cross swung into action as soon as it was aware of the plight of the town of Wilmore. County Chairman M.E. Haun, after surveying the damage, made an official report Saturday noon to the National Red Cross and that complimentary meals and coffee were served all day Saturday. In the evening, Misses Rowena Seaman and Elaine Barber also assisted in making and dispensing coffee.

Late Saturday afternoon Mrs. Clarence Coles, secretary of the chapter, made plans with Mrs. Moberly for a Sunday canteen consisting of hot soup, beans, sandwiches, coffeee and cake to be served at the Baptist church. Mrs. J.P. Griffin, Mrs. Bernarr Seaman, Mrs. W.M. Kennedy, Mrs. Howard Brass, Mrs. Oscar Barber, Mrs. Muriel Gregg and Mrs. Lester Fry assisted in the soup warming, coffee making and serving. Contributions of pies and sandwiches came in from many women in the surrounding country. By Sunday evening everything had been devoured except a few beans.


The Wilmore News, May 27, 1949, "Locals" news items:

Forrest Wood, of Big Lake, Tex., came Friday to attend commencement exercises. His sister, Shirley, was a member of the graduating class. Forrest's car was badly damaged by the tornado, Friday night, and he was unable to return to Texas, Sunday.


Marvin Downing, whose house was wrecked by the storm Friday night, has moved into the residence of Mrs. Carrie Nickerson.


Not many hours after the tornado struck Friday evening, a long distance call came from Mrs. Paul Ungles of Glendale, Calif., to her sister, Mrs. C.V. Lott, to learn whether all of the family were safe. On Sunday, Richard Wood called his mother, Mrs. J.P. Griffin, from San Diego, Calif., after reading of the storm in a California newspaper.


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Also see:

The Wilmore News, June 3, 1949:
"Town Cleaning Up After Tornado Damage"

Tornados in the Wilmore, Kansas area
A story about the tornado which hit Wilmore on May 20th, 1949, written by Wendel Ferrin and illustrated with photos by John Edward Schrock.

Aftermath of the Wilmore Tornado, May 20, 1949,   photos by J.R. & Gloria Cline


Photos of the Wilmore tornado wreckage by John Edward "Ed" Schrock

A flooded bridge over Mule Creek at the northeast edge of Wilmore. Tornado wreckage of May 20, 1949. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Tornado wreckage of May 20, 1949. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. This is a view of a flooded bridge over Mule Creek at the northeast edge of Wilmore.
 

Tornado wreckage of May 20, 1949. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Tornado wreckage of May 20, 1949. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. This is a view looking north across a flooded bridge over Mule Creek; a view from the opposite direction appears immediately below.
 

 Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Tornado wreckage of May 20, 1949. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. This is a view looking south towards downtown over the flooded bridge over Mule Creek which is just north of the railroad crossing from Main Street.
 

A train car damaged by falling trees in the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. A train car damaged by falling trees in the May 20, 1949, tornado which hit Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

Wendel Ferrin on his tractor on a flooded street in  Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, while helping to clean up damage from the tornado which hit the town on May 20, 1949. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Wendel Ferrin on his tractor on a flooded street in Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, while helping to clean up damage from the tornado which hit the town on May 20, 1949.
 

A house damaged by falling trees in the May 20th, 1949 tornado which hit Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. A house damaged by falling trees in the May 20th, 1949 tornado which hit Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. Wreckage of the May 20, 1949 tornado, view of the downtown area of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

View of the trees on Alcana Ferrin's lot blown down in the tornado of May 20, 1949, looking towards the Schrock house. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas. Photo by John Edward (Ed) Schrock, used with permission of Janet Schrock Hubbard. View of the trees on Alcana Ferrin's lot blown down in the tornado of May 20, 1949, looking towards the Schrock house. Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas.
 

Topographical map of Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, showing how Mule Creek encircles the city. Should you wonder if you've been looking at photos after a tornado or a flood, you've been looking at both. On the topographical map of Wilmore, Kansas, at left, note how the north end of Wilmore is on low ground within a horse-shoe bend in Mule Creek and note how many smaller streams feed into Mule Creek.

A lot of rain fell with that tornado and it caused Mule Creek to flood.
 

Mule Creek flash flood in Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, September 4, 1949.  Photo copyright John Edward Schrock 1949, used with permission of Janet (Schrock) Hubbard. Another Mule Creek flash flood hit Wilmore, Comanche County, Kansas, on September 4, 1949. This photograph of that flood is also by John Edward "Ed" Schrock.

The Wilmore News, September 9, 1949:
"MULE CREEK AGAIN FLOODS IN NORTH PART OF WILMORE"


 


Thanks to Janet (Schrock) Hubbard for providing the above tornado damage photos by her father, John Edward Schrock. (None of them were published with the news article in The Wilmore News about the tornado.)

Thanks to Shirley Brier for transcribing and contributing the above news article!

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