Evansville tornado of 2005

You’re locked in a room with your greatest fear

It’s not what’s in the room that worries me, but what is just outside wrapped in rain and clouds and deafening black.  Something that makes you lose your mind and takes all control from you.  

Something that can destroy, completely, the room. . .

In November of 2005 I lived in a small town just outside Evansville Indiana in Warrick County.  A powerful tornado had formed early in the morning of November 6, 2005 in Southwestern Indiana on the Ohio River. It was the first substantial tornado event of the month as well as the deadliest and most destructive tornado in the United States in 2005.

On the morning of November 6th, I awoke with no electricity.  My general feeling was “not again”.  My son was the one to give me the news.  He and his friends had been awake during the event.  We were fortunate.  The tornado had passed only a short distance from us.

051106-N-1755G-002 Evansville, Ind. (Nov. 6, 2005) Ð U.S. Navy Reservist, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Amy Gorman of Evansville, Ind., assists with search and rescue efforts after a tornado damaged a mobile home park in Evansville. Petty Officer Gorman is assigned to Navy Reserve Operational Hospital Support Unit Great Lakes, Detachment 23. Naval Reservists assigned to Navy Reserve Center Evansville are assisting local authorities in search and rescue efforts after an F3 tornado cut a 15-mile path through the Eastern Indiana and Kentucky region. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Joseph C. Garza (RELEASED)

“ On Sunday, November 6, 2005 at around 1:50 am CST (0750 UTC), a tornado touched down 2 miles (3 km) north-northwest of Smith Mills in Henderson County, Kentucky, near the Indiana/Kentucky border, and then crossed the Ohio River into Vanderburgh County, Indiana. Staying just south of I-164, the tornado traveled to the northeast causing extensive damage to parts of Evansville, Newburgh, and Boonville in Indiana. The tornado finally lifted in Spencer County, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south-southwest of Gentryville. According to a damage survey done by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky the damage path was at least 400 yards (365 m) wide and 41 miles (66 km) long. The tornado’s maximum wind speed was estimated to be 200 mph (320 km/h), making it a high-end F3 on the Fujita scale.” 

Tornado warnings were in effect at the time but many were sleeping as the tornado hit in the overnight hours, as was I.  Local Weather Radio transmitters experienced technical difficulties as the tornado approached leaving many unaware.

Ellis Park Racecourse (a race track between Henderson and Evansville) was the first area of destruction.  The track underwent heavy damage; 11 barns were destroyed and others were damaged.  Several racehorses were killed and 20 people lost their lives in the park that day along with numerous injuries.

Severe damage was also reported in Warrick County, where I lived.  Five people lost their lives.  Six communities were damaged in the County including Newburgh, Boonville and Paradise.  The 25 deaths from the Evansville tornado made it the deadliest tornado event in Indiana since 1974.

” But by the grace of God go I. . . ”

Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Joseph C. Garza 


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