does this site exist?", you may ask. This site is the
result of my interest in a few things:
- Not all history, just certain things
- Not quite sure why, but I will read them like a book
- The shear power they possess
- My ancestry and family history
of these items come together with the history of my uncle
being a victim of the Omaha tornado of May 6, 1975. Here is
Keith, was born into the Hayden family in Omaha, NE in 1940.
After serving in the United States Navy, he settled in California
in his early 20's in order to start a new life out west as
a fire fighter. His mother (Doris), his three brothers (Harry,
Bruce, and Kenny), and his sister (Gwen) continued to reside
in Omaha. In 1966, I was born in California and have lived
here for my entire life.
I was only nine years old. On a typical spring day, we received
a phone call from Omaha. My dad's oldest brother, Harry Hayden,
was traveling home when he was caught in the tornado.
30 years, this was the extent of my knowledge of the event.
Oh, sure, my family traveled back to Omaha the summer of 1976,
but much of the ruins were gone and/or rebuilt. Not having
been to Omaha since I was two years old, I had no recollection
as to any place that may look different from either being
destroyed or rebuilt. We drove around and my relatives pointed
out various sites, but it meant nothing to me at the time.
Besides, we had just spent a week on the road, driving from
California to Nebraska, so, it was just another Anytown, USA
in my eyes.
of September 8th, 2001, my grandmother (Doris) celebrated
her 90th birthday with a family reunion. My sister (who was
also living in California) and I weren't in the position to
be able to join the festivities. We decided to have our own
get-together at my house on September 9th. We barbecued great
food. Our kids played on the swing and in the pool. We videotaped
nearly the entire event, introducing Grandma to our spouses
and our kids with a series of silly skits. Our plan was for
me to edit it together at the small TV studio at which I work
and send it to her as a surprise. Two days later, the World
Trade Center was attacked. My entire outlook and priorities
changed. I literally completely forgot about the tape.
passed and I finally remembered the tape. I finished it and
of 2003, we decided we would make Omaha our family vacation
location for the summer of 2004. That summer, we flew back
to Nebraska. My son (Michael) was almost eight years old and
Grandma was going to be 93 in September.
lives in in-law quarters attached to her oldest son's (Harry)
house. Now, an interesting thing about Harry, is this. In
1977, a year after our summer visit, and two years after surviving
the tornado, while at work, Harry fell from some scaffolding
and broke his neck. He has been paralyzed from the neck down
ever since and confined to a wheel chair during his waken
visiting, Michael's curiosity got the best of him. He started
asking Harry about the wheel chair, his condition, and basically
what happened. Harry, being the high-spirited person that
he is, didn't hesitate to tell him. Then, someone volunteered
(and I am not sure who... it could even have been me) that
Harry had also been in a tornado. He acknowledge, looking
at Michael, "That's right!"
at him and said, "You know... I never really have heard
about what happened. Do you mind sharing?"
has since taken the time to enter his
story into the computer so I may post it here.
listening to his story, I was fascinated. When we returned
to California, I started trying to research the event on the
internet. I could turn up very little. What I did find at
Weather Service Central Region Headquarters Site was a
map and damage photos. After studying them in more detail,
I realized that the tornado passed within a quarter mile of
the house, in which we had sat, while Harry had told us his
story. I was also amazed that, 30 years later, I recognized
some of the damaged buildings in the pictures, as we had driven
by them a few months ago. While visiting, we stayed at a hotel
near US 75 and Cornhusker. Although not the quickest route,
we traveled north on 72nd from Cornhusker to Grant/N 75th
and south on route 85 from Interstate 80 to Cornhusker, just
to see the area. On the day we were to fly home, we stopped
by Grandma's house to say goodbye. When we left, we traveled
north to Maple/Route 64 where we headed east to Eppley Field.
I had no idea at the time that we were driving along or through
many of the areas that had been hit by the tornado.
the map geek that I am, I decided to create a detailed map
of the tornado path. Once I began, I was shocked at how many
streets were actually hit along the path. This drove me to
take it a step further. I began to create an overlay of the
tornado's path onto the most recent satellite aerial photos.
I was awe struck. This really put the size of the tornado
and distance traveled into perspective. I thought to myself,
"I should share this with others.... This is the kind
of information that I would want to see if I were searching
for this on the web... I should start a web site...."
In searching for more information,
I stumbled on his web site, http://www.gottschfamily.net/
because on the 10th
Gerneration Page, it contained the following:
"Note: The Mau family home
was destroyed in the May 6, 1975 tornado in Omaha."
being a result of my internet search. I backed out to the
root directory and found an email address for the webmaster.
I emailed him and he put me in touch with Cynthia. As it turns
out, Cynthia (Cindy) lived five blocks from my grandmother's
house. For a while, her mother and my grandmother worked at
Lucas Hall. Her mother remembers my grandmother and Harry.
What a small world. We began sharing more stories and I told
her what I was planning on doing. She has contributed by providing
photos and her story
of the event.
began creating the web site. And, that... is my story.