Haysville residents reflect on 15 year anniversary of deadly tornado

HAYSVILLE, Kansas — May 3rd, 1999 is a date in time that most Haysville residents haven’t forgotten.

That day, 15 years ago, a massive F-4 tornado tore through the town, leveling three dozen businesses and several homes.

Haysville resident Michael Graham was 14 years old on that day.

He says he and his family went into the basement of their home to wait out the storm safely.

Graham says he can still remember the noises he heard like it was yesterday.

“I heard that freight train sound, like there was a train coming right through, it really does kind of take your breath away when you hear that sound coming so close,”

According to the Fujita Scale, which measures the intensity of tornadoes, the F-4 tornado could have had winds anywhere form 207 to 260 miles per hour.

The massive tornado injured close to 150 people

Six people were killed in the storm.

Tom Gibson, a resident of Haysville for almost 37 years was at the corner of Main Street and Grand Avenue after the tornado had tore through the town,

“It was more like what you didn’t see than what you did see, it was gone, everything was gone,” said Gibson.

Over the past 15 years, the city of Haysville has rebuilt, but it’s a recovery process that Gibson says continues.

Destruction following the 1999 Haysville tornado
Destruction following the 1999 Haysville tornado

“It’s been 15 years for us and there are still places that we wish were in better shape than they are,” said Gibson.

Despite the tragedy, residents like Graham say it’s an event that has actually turned the community into more of a family.

“It’s amazing the growth that has happened since that day and how close the community of Haysville has grown,” said Graham.

The Haysville tornado was one of nearly 70 during an outbreak of storms in a three day period during the beginning of May in 1999.

 

 

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