Your Letters: It went right over us! by Chris Thompson

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(SUBMITTED) - My husband at the time, our 18 month old daughter, my sister and I were at the service station at 21st and Randolph when the sirens started going off. We was planing to go to Sedalia, Mo. to my grandmother's. They had blown the sirens several times in the days before and nothing had happened so I was sure nothing was going to happen. I decided we would go home to Oakland and get our luggage and be on our way to Sedalia.

We made it about half way through town when it started raining and hailing. We were on 6th street in front of what was then the Santa Fe Hospital. The rain and hail suddenly stopped and the car radio went silent. It was dead still. I was in the middle of the front seat and my sister was in the passenger side. She started screaming and I looked at my husband and knew he was scared. For some reason he turned right onto Jefferson street in front of the Capital-Journal building. I thought I could get him to go around the block and then take the river road into Oakland. We got to the first corner and I got him to turn left and then another left at the next corner. Now we are behind the Capital-Journal building. I looked to the West and it was coming right at us. I got him to stop the car and we got out and laid on the ground with the baby under us.

It looked like a big black wall coming at us. I could see appliances and all kinds of things in it. It went right over us. My sister kept trying to get up and run and we had to hold her down. My husband was 6'2" and weighted about 200 lbs and at one point something hit him in the hip and pushed him about a foot against me. His head went down and I thought he was dead. But his head came back up. The best way I know to describe how it felt is like a huge fan blowing a lot of sand on you.

When it finally stopped we got up and our daughter had blood running down her head. We thought she was hurt so we were going to take her to the hospital.

We got to the car, a beautiful '62 Ford convertible, that he was so proud of. My sister and I got in and he walked to the drivers side, opened the door and started shoveling glass out of the seat with his hands. He said"Oh look at my car" and we realized we were sitting in about an inch of glass. All of the windows were blown out and the head lights were broken. The top was a mess.

We were the first ones to get to St. Francis Hospital. We were covered with mud. They got us to an exam room and cleaned my daughter up and she didn't have a scratch. They started looking at us for injuries and my sister had a cut on her head that had bled down on my daughter. I had a small cut on my shoulder and still have a scar. We had welts all over our bodies from dirt and sand hitting us. It was weeks before we got all the dirt out of our hair. It was like it kept coming out of our scalps.

They wouldn't let us leave the hospital because of the power lines and trees down so we were there until morning. Oakland was hit so we had to go to the fire station and prove we lived there. We got home and there was some shingles blown off of the roof but the house was fine. We had no lights or phone though. The national guard was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the house. I had a sister-in-law in Carbondale and we wanted to go there but the national guard wouldn't let us leave. About the third day I looked out and knew the guy walking up and down in front of the house. I talked to him and he let us go. We stayed in Carbondale for about a week until things were better.

It was ten years before I could stand rain and I still don't like hail. It is a night I will never for get and I hope I never have to go through it again.