FLINT (WWJ/AP) – A ceremony is planned next weekend to mark the 60th anniversary of a tornado that hit the Flint area, killing 116 people dead and destroying nearly 350 homes.
A 7 p.m. event is planned June 8 at Village Conference Center, and a tornado siren will sound at 8 p.m. as part of the Beecher tornado service, The Flint Journal reported. Names of those killed will be read, and music is planned along with speeches from local religious leaders. The memorial event is open the public.
The F5 tornado touched down four blocks from the home of Diane Bayeh, chairwoman of the memorial event, and she said she remembers that day well. She said hot, June weather started with heavy rainfall, sending her into the house, before the tornado struck.
“Just as I took my shoes off, it got pitch-black out and the lights went out and it was real black and it was just pouring down rain,” she said. “All of a sudden, it stopped raining and it got real quiet and we heard this horrible noise, which was the tornado.”
The Beecher tornado gets its name from the area where it struck in Genesee County, just north of Flint. The tornado remains one of the nation’s most deadly.
“We don’t want them to ever be forgotten,” Bayeh said of the victims and their families. “They need to be honored. It needs to be remembered.”
Plans also are in the works to build a new memorial to victims of the June 8, 1953, tornado. This year, a memorial wreath is to be placed at the Beecher Tornado Memorial Monument, which was damaged three years ago when bronze plaques were stolen.
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