The Pink Tornado - Two Nights Of Destruction

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Decatur – Two nights of fury.

April 18, 1996, and the following night, two tornadoes tore through the city of Decatur.  Nearly three dozen were injured.  Damages climbed into the millions.  Remarkably, no one was killed.

The first tornado, an F1, hit a few minutes after eight.  Nine people were hurt with damage estimates hitting $1.5 million.

On the night of April 19, 1996 a more powerful F3 touched down in Harristown and then swept into Decatur.  The Sharon United Methodist church in Harristown was demolished.  Homes along the tornadoes path were flattened.

Decatur pharmacist Wole Adeoye was in his bedroom when he heard his children screaming in their Ravina Park Road home. 

“I didn’t even know what a tornado was,” Adeoye told WAND’s Doug Wolfe 20 years later.  Adeoye says his family made it into the basement but he didn’t.  “It was too late for me.  I was blown with the tornado.  I was picked up.  I didn’t know where I landed.”

Adeoye survived and rebuilt.

Harristown Fire Chief Steve Gambrill was heading back into town when the tornado hit.

“All of a sudden I just happened to look off to my right and there I could see the tornado,” Gambrill stated.  “I’m thinking my God the church is gone and I looked over to my right and there’s a house sitting in the middle of the road.”

Gambrill says the tornado was pink.  A result of insulation being ripped out of homes in the tornadoes path.

That second tornado injured 29 people and caused $9 million dollars in damage.  The church rebuilt and was ready for use in 1997.

(Pictured: Ravina Park Road on April 18, 2016)

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