Former Haysville resident recalls 1999 tornado

WICHITA, Kansas – This weekend marked the 15 year anniversary of a tornado that stormed through south Wichita and Haysville.

Courtney Williams was 13 years old and in 7th grade when the tornado came through Haysville on May 3rd, 1999.

Williams says her family took shelter in their basement for more than an hour to wait out the tornado.

“I looked up, our roof came off, everything came apart, a chair came down and hit my sister in the head,” said Williams.

Her sister, Jessie, who was 15 years old at the time, wasn’t seriously injured and the rest of her family came away unharmed.

Williams says she can still remember the sounds and noises she heard in her basement as she tried to stay safe.

“It’s glass shattering, just boards breaking everything around you and literally it was just explosions and screaming,” said Williams.

The tornado flattened Williams childhood home and destroyed many of her and her families belongings.

She did manage to grab a hummingbird clock her grandmother gave her before she died.  She still has the clock in her home today.

Looking back on that day, Williams still gets emotional recalling the event she lived through.

“You just gather the strength and you just look around and your fortunate to have your family,” said Williams.

Williams says that even though its been 15 years since the tornado hit, that it’s an event herself and her community won’t soon forget.

“The May 3rd tornado affected everybody, whether your house was a direct hit, had some damage, you knew somebody that was affected,” said Williams.

The tornado that hit Haysville and south Wichita was measured as an F-4, meaning it had winds from 207 to 260 miles per hour, according to the Fujita Scale.

 

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