Waco, Texas, is the site of many interesting historical happenings, but one that locals still talk about is the F5 tornado which hit the downtown area on May 11, 1953. It is the 10th worst tornado in the nation. The irony was that an Indian legend held Waco was immune from tornadoes because of the surrounding bluffs of the Brazos River. Most of the locals believed the legend, and so were not alarmed when the weather began to deteriorate and throw the small city into eerie darkness. A geology professor at Baylor University did research on the situation after the fact and found that the opposite is true. Waco sits upon a geological formation which actually makes the town more vulnerable to deadly tornadoes.
Through the years I've heard stories from two friends about the tornado that fateful day when 114 people lost their lives, 597 were injured, 600 houses destroyed, along with 1000 other buildings, and 2000 vehicles. One was a Baylor student who went his friends to the downtown area which was where the tornado hit to pull people out of the rubble. He tells of extricating bodies of those who perished as well as the injured.
Another friend tells about her father who was on the upper floor of the medical buildings which was hit and rode the building as it fell and emerged unhurt.
Another interesting story emerged of a dentist who was working on a patient with a radium needle used to treat mouth cancer. The dentist was injured and when he woke up in the hospital, he immediately inquired about the needle. A team of
physicists from Baylor University took a Geiger counter and went to the ruins of the building to search for the dangerous object. They did find it in the rubble of the basement and took care of the problem.
The destruction of the 1953 tornado in Waco was one of the primary factors in developing a nationwide severe warning system.
We now live in Waco, and in the eight years we've been here I would say that every tornado season we do have several instances of tornado watches (conditions are favorable for a tornado), and of tornado warnings as well (tornadoes have been sighted -- take cover!). I have lived through one tornado, but it was not here in Waco, but in East Texas, north of Tyler. We were running a conference center at the time, and the twister hit the dorm, jumped over our house, and moved on. The devastation to the dorm was stunning ... bunk beds and mattresses thrown into the woods, but the hymn book was still sitting on the piano. We were grateful to God nobody was hurt. Have you ever experienced a tornado first hand? I would love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!
Although a multi-published fiction author, Golden Keyes Parsons’ first published non-fiction work, Spiritual Spring Cleaning, (BoldVision Books) just released in April 2015. Her series, Darkness to Light, (Thomas Nelson) chronicled the journey of her ancestors in 17th century France and was a finalist for ACFW’s Debut Author of the Year in 2008. Her fourth novel, His Steadfast Love, a Civil War novel, was a National Readers Choice finalist. Parsons has also written a biblical fiction series entitled Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels (WhiteFire Publishing). Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine. www.goldenkeyesparsons.com