Norfolk, NE (vicinity) Tornado, May 1954

Birth, Marriage & Death Records

TORNADOES HIT IN NEBRASKA; 4 CHILDREN DEAD.

Norfolk, Neb., May 31. (AP) -- Tornadoes cut a swath across northeast Nebraska last night killing four children and injuring at least 20 other persons.
The Weather Bureau said there were two confirmed tornado reports and three unconfirmed reports in a 30-mile path. Damage to telephone lines made checks in the area difficult.
The list of dead was revised downward this morning when hospital attendants accounted for all members of the BEN KOHL family. Earlier it had been reported that four KOHL children were killed and two children and the parents injured. Hospital attendants said when the injured revived sufficiently to talk they said there were only four children in the family.
20 Persons Hospitalized.
The dead:
NELL KLAWONN, 8 years old.
CINDY CARBERRY, 4 years old.
GEORGE KOHL, about 6 years old.
ROBERT KOHL, about 8 years old.
A Red Cross disaster committee official said in addition to the 20 hospitalized, two other persons were treated and released.
He said a Red Cross survey showed three farms affected in the Newman Grove area, and possibly 10 farms south of Norfolk. He said there was no indication of any damage in the town of Madison southeast of the tornado path.
All the deaths and injuries were in an area about two miles wide and four miles long some 10 miles southeast of Norfolk. At least seven farms were known to have been hit. The area is about 130 miles northwest of Omaha.
Torrential rains ranging up to 3 1/2 inches in Pierce, some 20 miles north of the tornado area, made side roads impassable and the state safely patrol survey of the toll was slowed up.
The rains sent streams in the area over their banks; highways were reported blocked in three places.
One tornado, coming in from the southwest, apparently dipped down and hit the BEN KOHL farm about 10 miles southwest of here, about 9:18 p.m. (CST) killing two children and injuring the parents and two other children. The injured KOHL children were RUTH, 3, and RAYMOND, 4, both reported in fair condition.
Then it jumped three miles east to the WELDON RAKOWSKY farm, killing CINDY CARBERRY, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Carberry of Norfolk, and injuring 10 other persons, apparently attending a Memorial Day family gathering.
CINDY'S brother, GREG, was injured, but the parents had gone to Lake Andes, S.D., for the day to fish and missed the storm.
ED RAKOWSKY, one of the injured, took the injured son, DWIGHT, 10, in his car and drove to the home of Dr. S. H. Brauer, near by. In the hospital he kept repeating, "I saw my wife die."
Also injured at the RAKOWSKY farm were MR. and MRS. WELDON RAKOWSKY and their four children, SHARON, 15, LUCRETIA, PAM, and MARK, and BILL SALTONSTALL, all of Norfolk.
The tornado then hopped across the highway to the LAWRENCE KLAWONN farm, killing NELL KLAWONN, 8, and injuring her parents. The farmhouse was leveled.
A tornado also struck the CHARLIE BICKLEY farm, injuring BICKLEY. MRS. BICKLEY was reported to have reached the storm cellar safely. The hospitals also reported a MRS. M. BICKLEY but it was not determined whether the injured woman was BICKLEY'S wife.
Wayne Wells, news director of Station KJAG of Norfolk, said the KLAWONN farm was "the worst sight I ever saw. All the buildings were ripped out. Two-foot thick cottonwoods were twisted off like toothpicks."
Nelson Barth, city editor of the Norfolk News, said the KOHN and RAKOWSKY farms also suffered heavy damage and he had been told of two other farms damaged in the immediate area.
Torrential rains ranging up to 3.15 inches at Pierce 20 miles north of Norfolk sent streams over the banks and two highways were blocked by flood waters -- Highway 15 between Norfolk and Laurel, and Highway 35 west of Winside. Norfolk had 1.65 inches.
The Norfolk Weather Bureau went onto a flood emergency basis.
All Norfolk doctors were called out and a call went out for additional nurses.

Corpus Christi Times Texas 1954-05-31

Comments

The tornado then hopped

The tornado then hopped across the highway to the LAWRENCE KLAWONN farm, killing NELL KLAWONN, 8, and injuring her parents. The farmhouse was leveled.
A tornado also struck the CHARLIE BICKLEY farm, injuring BICKLEY. MRS. BICKLEY was reported to have reached the storm cellar safely. The hospitals also reported a MRS. M. BICKLEY but it was not determined whether the injured woman was BICKLEY'S wife.
Wayne Wells, news director of Station KJAG of Norfolk, said the KLAWONN farm was "the worst sight I ever saw. All the buildings were ripped out. Two-foot thick cottonwoods were twisted off like toothpicks."

Addition

Hello,
My grandmother died in this accident. Her name was Bernice Rakowsky and was the husband of Edwin Rakowsky. Her name wasn't listed as one of those who died and I just wanted to make sure her memory was preserved. Thank you for this article, I appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Brett Gerking