Tornado Memories Still Alive 70 Years Later - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Tornado Memories Still Alive 70 Years Later

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy: Bice-Ferguson Museum Courtesy: Bice-Ferguson Museum

Even though nature has healed, the memories of the 1944 Shinnston Tornado are still alive.

"You heard the noise and boom you got popped, the storm was there and then it was gone," explained Shinnston resident, John Rice.  

Pauline Reed said, "the next day we went down and I saw them bringing bodies out of the river, bloody muddy bodies."

John Rice who was 6 at the time remembers that day all too well, “the oppressive heat, it seemed like that day there was no air moving. Everything was still, you’d didn’t hear the birds, you almost didn’t hear the river run.”

The Shinnston Newspaper reported, "No more than ten houses were left standing in the Pleasant Hill addition to Shinnston, while South Shinnston was entirely wiped out"

“People didn’t stop and think, they didn’t stop and ask do you need, they just did." Rice said, "I know the next day I helped my Dad carry bandages and things like that to the basement of the First Methodist Church. That was set up as an emergency clinic, and then it became a morgue.”

The tornado left more than 100 dead and a wind fear in many.

Reed said, "now when the wind blows very strong, you kind of get scared."

Shinnston residents worked together to rebuild the area, but they will never forget that early summer evening in 1944. The community has found meaning in the tragedy allowing them to move on stronger than ever before.

“When your neighbor is in need you don’t ask, you don’t worry about the outcome, you don’t worry about do I have the money? " Rice said, "You just do what you have to do and in this country that’s what we do."


Powered by Frankly