Beecher Tornado of 1953

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Tragedy often tears a city apart. One disaster in Flint, however, brought the community together.

Around 8:30pm on June 8, 1953 a tornado struck without warning. The twister cut a path of destruction along Coldwater Road between Clio Road and Dort Highway. Within minutes 116 people were killed or fatally injured, 300 homes were destroyed and 250 more suffered major damage.

Community response to this tragedy was immediate and overwhelming. Unsolicited donations poured in. G.M., U.A.W. and numerous businesses made generous donation to a disaster fund. Hundreds of local workers gave through payroll deductions. Within a few weeks over $900,000 was collected.

In late August, 8,000 volunteers participated in a weekend building bee known as “Operation Tornado.” In 90º heat, people from all walks of life gave more than 80,000 hours and built 193 houses.

For its efforts, Flint was honored as the “All-American City of 1953.”

2013 marked the 60th Anniversary of the Beecher Tornado.

Documenting the Disaster

Not only did the Flint Journal and other local and regional media cover the damage and reconstruction of the community, many locals also brought out their personal cameras to document the disaster.

One local family, unfortunately anonymous to time, captured two small snapshot booklets of images. Found in an attic, these images show the reality of the destruction in the Beecher area.

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