The 1974 tornado was terrifying, but it taught me an important lesson

When I was in 8th grade, and my sister Valerie was a junior at Ballard High School. We arrived home about an hour prior to the 1974 tornado hitting our home.

The birds stopped chirping and our family dog uncharacteristically didn’t want to go out in the yard. Our dad called home and warned of the news of storm damage in Brandenburg, it was heading our way. We saw a huge oak tree in our yard flapping in the wind like a twig .

With Dick Gilbert on a radio, we hurried to the basement just in time to feel a dramatic change in air pressure followed a loud sound like a freight train and airborne debris smashing into basement windows. The violent shaking of our house made us fear for our lives until suddenly it ended.

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