The WESTSIDE TORNADO OF 1953 hit the westside neighborhoods of Cleveland on June 8,1953. The tornado was first spotted around 9:45pm crossing the northwest corner of CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. The Weather Bureau’s new tornado watch system had alerted radio and television stations before the tornado struck, sending the message around 8:55pm.

The tornado touched down along a route from the airport to the lake at E.40th St. The worst hit areas were the neighborhood of WEST PARK, neighborhoods between W. 117th and W. 130th Sts. south of Lorain Ave., and around FRANKLIN CIRCLE. Numerous downed trees made it difficult for fire trucks and ambulances to get around and fallen trees and utility poles trapped streetcars and buses. Mayor THOMAS BURKE called for the National Guard and summoned his Cabinet to an emergency session. Policemen and firefighters searched the rubble for any survivors. An emergency shelter was set up by the Red Cross at Sts. Philip and James Catholic Church on Bosworth Rd. They sent out mobile canteens through the area with food for rescue workers and the homeless. The resources of the Red Cross were depleted, as 1953 was considered one of the worst tornado periods in history. The next day, 115 people died in Flint, MI and 90 people died in Worcester, MA. when storms struck those cities.  In Greater Cleveland, the tornado killed nine people, injured three hundred people, and left more than 200 homeless.

Vinod Sardesai

Article Categories