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Mount Clemens, New Baltimore, MI Tornado, May 1964


Mount Clemens, Mich. (AP) -- Eleven persons were killed and more than 100 injured late Friday when a tornado that roared like a giant vacuum cleaner swept across southeastern Michigan.
Gov. GEORGE W. ROMNEY immediately left the Republican State Convention at Grand Rapids on the other side of the state to go to the disaster area.
Macomb County Sheriff LESTER A. ALMSTADT, who gave the death toll, said the twister smashed area was about two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.
"There is very heavy destruction," he added.
ALMSTADT said the search for bodies had been discontinued until Satruday morning.
The tornado appeared to have hit with the most force in Chesterfield Township, a residential area that lies between the southeastern Michigan cities of Mount Clemens and New Baltimore. All the dead were believed to have lived in the township.
ALMSTADT said the devastated area looked from the air as if a giant had stamped on it again and again.
Macomb County's civil defense director, CLEM W. SKIBA, said, "for a rough guess there are at least 200 homes that were pretty thoroughly demolished," SKIBA estimated at least 300 other homes were damaged but not destroyed.
SKIBA said he saw the tornado as it swept down on the area. He said "it bounced around, up and down, moving west to east."
Gov. ROMNEY left Grand Rapids by plane with three of his aides for Selfridge Air Force Base near Mount Clemens.
The base is just off Lake St. Clair, north of here. A housing area on the edge of the base suffered heavy damage. The base is about 20 miles from populous Detroit which was not hit by the twister although the metropolitan area was swept by fierce rain and winds.
Only two of the dead were identified immediately. They were MRS. BARBARA FORTON, 29, and SUSAN WESTFALL, 7, both of Chesterfield Township.
MRS. FORTON was identified by her husband, WAYNE, 33, who said the twister demolished his home and injured four small children, though none seriously.
FORTON, a truck driver, was not at home when the tornado struck.
"I was driving home," he said. "Then I saw the destruction. I ran to my house and it wasn't there anymore.

Mount Clemens (AP) -- Here is a list of identified dead in the tornado which struck southeastern Michigan Friday night:
Her daughter, LOUISE, 8 years old.
Her son, DAVID, 4 months old.
Her daughter, TINA MARIA, 20 months old.
MRS. DONNA MAE SOLOC, 24, of New Baltimore.
Her daughter, WENDY LOU, 6 months old.
SUSAN WESTFALL, 7, of New Baltimore.
MRS. BARBARA FORTON, 28, of New Baltimore

Daily Cpaital News Jefferson City Missouri 1964-05-09


1964 Tornado

Dear Linda,

I read your comments. I am related to Donna and Wendy. My uncle was Joe and Margie Soloc. He had 40 acres and they lived somewhere on Sugarbush across the street from military housing, if I remember correctly. They had a son named Joe, who was married to Donna. Donna and Joe had 3 children Joey, Allan and Wendy. When the tornado struck, I was just 9 years old and lived in Livonia. We caught it on the news.

About a week after Donna and Wendy's funeral(s) my family brought out bedding, clothing and food to my uncles house for Joe and his boys Allan and Joey. Allan and Joey were still in the hospital. I can remember the rubble from the road was heaped up on the shoulder. Everything else looked like it just happened, cars laying upside in fields, houses all ripped up, trees broken and uprooted etc..

My uncle took my dad and I for a walk all around his property explaining everything that happened on that dreadful day. We eventually walked toward the back end of his property and went through some woods and came upon a piece of concrete with pipes sticking out of the ground. That's where Joe and Donna's house once stood. Their house was near the end of a dead end road, that was connected to another road, not Sugarbush.

It's been 35 years since I've been out there. I'm working on a family tree and it has brought me to this point of seeking out our family history. I'm trying to figure out what 2 cross streets did my Uncle Joe live between on Sugarbush, and secondly what street did Joe and Donna live on. Last I'm trying to find my cousins Joey and Allan.

Your help would be appreciated.


Hi Steve,

A colleague of mine came across this site. Nannette Louise was my sister. I'm Sara. Do you have any school pictures of Louise? I have none due to the storm.

My Best,

Sara Riggs Holbrook

Mt Clemmons, Tornado 1964

Hi Stu,

My mother, two (2) sisters and brother perished in this disaster.

Her daughter, LOUISE, 8 years old. (Nanette Louise)
Her son, DAVID, 4 months old. ( David Joseph)
Her daughter, TINA MARIA, 20 months old.

A colleague of mine came across this information and sent it to me. I did not go to the Memorial because the loss was too great to revisit even at that time. I would like to contact my gym teacher with your help. He came to my hospital and visited me many times, raised money and when I got out of the hospital, sent me on my way with savings bonds for a new future. Can you help?

Sara Riggs Holbrook

1964 tornado

I was 4 and a 1/2 at the time and remember it well.
My grandparents lived in Chesterfield Shores, and
I was staying with them while my parents were out
to an adoption meeting (which resulted in adopting
my sister 5 months later).

I remember my grandmother pushing me under the
bed and laying down next to the bed while praying
(in German). There home was undamaged, but it hit
less than a mile from us. I remember the sound -
never forgot it!

1964 Tornado

I was 12 years old and living in the Selfridge AFB Capehart housing, going to the junior high school. Stepfather was a navigator on KC-97s (SAC). I remember the incredible sound of the rushing wind, my Mom calling my sister and me to get into the bathtub, and watching my bicycle fly across the street. Our home wasn't damaged badly, but houses two doors away lost their roofs.

Chesterfield Tornado

Yep! I was there and 4 years old. My mom just missed it by seconds on Jefferson Rd. coming home from the laundromat in New Baltimore. My dad didn't believe her and said it was all to the west of us, but guess what, we lived on Cotton Rd. and watch the whole thing roar past our home, missing us completely. We stood there with the back door open and things were flying everywhere. How lucky were we to not get hit! Many of our families friends lost everything. I remember the lake the next day was full of debris. We use to play in a field right in back of our house and could see where the path of the tornado went for years after that. My dad's friend was a sheriff and I think he was the one who found the baby. We have 8mm film of the next day but my sister in CA has the films. Anyways, it was a day that has never been far from my mind!

New Baltimore Tornado 1964

I was 4 years old, my mom just got back from New Baltimore laundromat missing the tornado by seconds on Jefferson Rd. When it hit we stood outside the back door and watched it roar past our house missing us completely. We lived on Cotton Rd. and had no idea this was coming. There was a field in the back where we would play and for years after that you could see where the path of the tornado went. We have 8mm film of the day after but that is it. Many of our friends and neighbors were effected and injured. One of my dad's best friends was a sheriff and I think he found the baby that died stuck in the mud. He also saw a chicken running around with no feathers! I believe also there was a farm down the road from us and they lost some cows, they were never found. The day after Lake St. Clair was littered with debris and I remember how choppy the water was. All and all it was a day that will stick in my memory forever.

email is

Tornado 1964

Last i heard Joe was living in North Carolina,not sure where Allan is. They lived on Forbes and the grandparents lived on Sugarbush between Cotton and Dean A. Naldrett school. Hope this helps....Lori

1964 tornado

Hello Lisa,
I used to play at your house almost daily unless you guys were at my house. I remember your mom and dad fondly. I have some pictures but mostly what my grandmother gave me and of what was left of our house. Unbelievably, I bought a house about 3 years ago and it DOESN'T have a basement. I guess I got tired of fearing storms, LOL.
I have some newspapers that my girlfriend's mom gave me. I would be glad to share them with you.

article | by Dr. Radut