Cedar County, Iowa
Community News


Taken from the North Cedar Press dated April 15, 1965
Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, April 9, 2015

    Farmers along a 12-mile strip through Fairfield, Springfield and Massillon townships—where a tornado cut a path 200 yards wide through the northeast part of Cedar county—are going ahead with the task of cleaning up from one of the worst winds of Cedar county history.

     The tornado, which struck shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, took only a few minutes to lay waste to 2 dozen farms. This week neighbors, friends and relatives are assisting with the work of clearing up and repairing smashed homes, barns and farm buildings.

     The sound of chain saws started early Monday morning followed by the smoke of fires as farmers began burning the debris from the twister.

     A devastating tornado ripped through northern Cedar county Sunday afternoon, critically injuring a Clarence farmer and causing more than a half-million dollars damage to farms in the Clarence-Lowden area.

     In serious condition at University hospitals is Richard J. Dircks, former member of the county board of supervisors, who was carried in the wreckage of his home from its foundation to where it was smashed to splinters more than 50 yards away.

     Dircks is in the intensive care ward at University hospital where he is being treated for head and internal injuries. He also has a broken arm.

     Dircks, 65, was pulled from the wreckage by his wife and son Dewey, who were able to get to the basement before the storm struck. The Clarence farmer was in the living room of his 2-story home as the tornado hit.

     Dewey Dircks said that he saw the storm coming from the west and hurried to a window on the south side of the farm home. He said, “As I looked out, I saw the machine shed door disintegrate.” He said he shouted “tornado” and followed his mother to the basement. His father did not reach the basement before the tornado struck.

     Dircks said that they had to “hold-on in the basement or we would have been blown away, too.” The couple was next to the east wall after the storm had blown over. Mrs. Dircks receive several bruises and her son escaped injury.

     Among the 11 buildings demolished were 3 large barns, a 4-car garage, hog houses, machine shed and a small storage shed. Three automobiles were also damaged.

     Nearly two dozen other farms were damaged as the twister took a half-mile wide path for nearly 20 miles in Fairfield, Springfield and Massillon townships between Clarence and Lowden before lifting.

     The near straight southwest northeast route of the winds included serious damage on the Arnold Wenndt farm a mile and a half west of Lowden and a farm belonging to Mrs. Werner Kruckenberg north of Lowden. All of the farm buildings on both farms received extensive damage and both houses were damaged, but remained on their foundations.

     Wenndt said that the sky turned gray as he was gathering eggs about 1 p.m. and he went to the house. He noticed the twister crossing Highway 30 about three-quarters of a mile away and told his wife to hurry to the basement.

     “In less than 5 minutes, all 16 of our farm buildings and our house was hit,” Wenndt added. It demolished a car and pickup in addition to several pieces of farm equipment.

     At the Kruckenberg farm, Hugo, his sister, Dorothea, and their mother, Marie, were all sleeping as the funnel leveled their farm buildings. The house received heavy damage and all three occupants were thrown to the floor as the wind hit.

     Other farms in the Lowden area receiving heavy damage included those of Julius Conrad, where 2 large barns were downed; Albert Nieting, roofs ripped from barn, corn crib and house; Lawrence Stolte, large barn flattened as the storm passed between other farm buildings and the house. `

     William Pasold, top quarter of barn ripped away and 2 other large buildings damaged. Large 2 story house extensively damaged as trees and debris blew into it; Harry Hamdorf, hog houses and corn crib destroyed on a vacant farm; and Herbert H. Kroemer, extensive damage to farm buildings.

     Farms in the area south of Highway 30 hit by the storm included Hugo Schroeder, where 2 large barns were hit; Fred Kahl, top of barn destroyed and less serious damage to other buildings; Lester Rowald, 2 large barns destroyed and minor damage to house and other buildings and Raymond Hasenbank, Tipton, received damage to a large barn.

     The twister also struck the Bert and Charlie McDermott farm, east of Massillon. Part of the roof of the house was blown away.

     Also hit was the Charles Caes farm northwest of Toronto in Clinton county, where a 50 by 60 foot barn was destroyed, along with a machine shed and milk house.

     On the north shore of the Wapsie river, two of nine cabins in the Milota cabin site were wrecked. A cabin jointly owned by Carl Ruprecht of Lowden and Charles Wentworth of Toronto were wrecked.

     The twister hit the cabin site and then moved on to the Caes farm.

     More than a dozen head of cattle were killed in the storm. Nine head were killed on the Wenndt farm and at least 4 head died on the Kruckenberg farm.

     Two houses near Toronto were reportedly damaged by the winds and Pete Pazour, Anamosa Iowa Electric Light and Power company official, said that power in the area was restored by late Monday.

     Crews and equipment from Anamosa, Maquoketa, DeWitt and Wheatland were called in to repair the damage in the Lowden area. Crews from the Mt. Vernon office went to the area south of Clarence. The town of Toronto was without electricity as were most rural customers in the Lowden area.

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