Tornadoes roared across the Mississippi Delta on Sunday night (21 February) leaving 84 people dead in their wake.
Tornadoes roared across the Mississippi Delta on Sunday night (21 February) leaving 84 people dead in their wake. A few hours later a blizzard struck Mid-West towns such as Omaha, Nebraska, closing schools, stopping work and halting transport. The snow worsened the serious flood situation in the area and 800 people have had to be evacuated.
For this film, shots of the two disasters have been intercut, and offer an unusual contrast.
SYNOPSIS: Six townships were nearly wiped out on Sunday night when a series of tornadoes roared through the Mississippi Delta. At least 84 people died and about 500 were injured in the swathe cut by the devastating winds. The Weather Bureau received reports of more than 60 separate tornadoes in the States of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Throughout Monday people were searching the wreckage of their homes to see what could be salvaged. Damage was estimated in millions of dollars.
National Guardsmen were called in to help the rescue work. Looting was reported and Guardsmen and law enforcement officers kept out sightseers. President Nixon declared the region a disaster area. The tornadoes were the Deep South's deadliest outbreak of "twisters" in three decades. The death toll would have been even worse but for a National Weather Service alert 70 minutes before the first killer wind struck.
Trouble of a different nature in the Mid-West, where a blizzard struck Omaha and other towns on Monday. Snow-ploughs fought throughout the night and day to open roads but traffic came to a halt and airliners were grounded.
The snow worsened the flood situation along rivers in the area. More than 800 people were evacuated.
Livestock suffered and 1500 head of cattle were drowned. Damage is estimated at well over two million dollars and, with shops and businesses closed, the bill is expected to get bigger.