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Anniversary of deadly tornado that hit Hamilton and Boone Counties

CINCINNATI (Scott Dimmich) -- Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of one of the biggest tornado outbreaks ever recorded in this country, and it happened here.

April 3rd, 1974 was a history making, deadly day.  It was just mass destruction.  April 3rd is a day synonymous with tornadoes.  11 tornadoes were confirmed in the tri-state 40 years ago Thursday, including the only F5 tri-state tornado on record cutting through Ohio, Boone, and Hamilton County.

Bill Rolland of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said, "I could see the tornado going across the sky, and it was absolutely huge.  And I was sitting there thinking how neat this was.  And then it dawned on me: This thing is really tearing up stuff."

Harvey Pelley, former fire chief of the Hebron Fire Department, said, "There had been one tornado, and they split into two. As they got a little past the area at the I-275 at North Bend Road interchange, you could see where they merged."

The F5 tornado that tore through Boone County and Sayler Park that day killed 3 and injured over 200.  But despite the damage, there was hope.

Jim Dolwick, former Kentucky State Trooper, said, "There was a lot of mental stress at that time; I know I was pretty stressed out.  But people just got out there and helped one another."

Carl Biery, a Red Cross volunteer, remembers, "When they called me, I felt like I was needed.  What I take away was I helped people. It really gave me that warm fuzzy feeling that somebody needed help."

Technology and disaster plans have improved dramatically since 1974, but in a simpler time people still worked together.  I think we'd be more prepared from the standpoint of sirens and alerting system that's in place today.  At that time, disaster agencies, the Salvation Army; everything fell into place. It worked out quite well.

The deadliest tornado of the April 3rd outbreak hit Xenia, Ohio.  36 people were killed and more than 1,100 were injured.

Watch video HERE


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