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Caught In The Path, A Tornado's Fury, A Community's Rebirth

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Before storm sirens, before the Weather Channel, before Doppler Radar, a tornado "dropped out of a troubled May sky and twisted its way into our lives forever." On the evening of May 20,1957 three communities south of Kansas City, Missouri were destroyed by a seventy-one mile, F-5 twister. This monstrous storm left in its path five hundred injured, forty-four dead and over Before storm sirens, before the Weather Channel, before Doppler Radar, a tornado "dropped out of a troubled May sky and twisted its way into our lives forever." On the evening of May 20,1957 three communities south of Kansas City, Missouri were destroyed by a seventy-one mile, F-5 twister. This monstrous storm left in its path five hundred injured, forty-four dead and over a million dollars worth of property damage. Nothing defines a community more than its reaction to disaster. Caught In The Path is a story of fear and courage, suffering and resiliency. The hardest hit area, four year old Ruskin Heights, was the first post-war tract housing development in the Kansas City area. Like so many of their generation, its residents, mostly first time home buyers in their twenties and thirties, came to Ruskin to raise their baby-boom families with the optimism of the fifties. When the tornado scattered their dreams along its path, they came back, and changed a housing development into a community. Author Carolyn Glenn Brewer's family was among those caught off guard by the tornado. Most of the houses on her block were leveled to the foundation. She combines her story with extensive interviews from nearly one hundred survivors and period media coverage. The narrative flow of this book reads like fiction, but makes the tornado, and the summer that followed, pulse with reality.


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Before storm sirens, before the Weather Channel, before Doppler Radar, a tornado "dropped out of a troubled May sky and twisted its way into our lives forever." On the evening of May 20,1957 three communities south of Kansas City, Missouri were destroyed by a seventy-one mile, F-5 twister. This monstrous storm left in its path five hundred injured, forty-four dead and over Before storm sirens, before the Weather Channel, before Doppler Radar, a tornado "dropped out of a troubled May sky and twisted its way into our lives forever." On the evening of May 20,1957 three communities south of Kansas City, Missouri were destroyed by a seventy-one mile, F-5 twister. This monstrous storm left in its path five hundred injured, forty-four dead and over a million dollars worth of property damage. Nothing defines a community more than its reaction to disaster. Caught In The Path is a story of fear and courage, suffering and resiliency. The hardest hit area, four year old Ruskin Heights, was the first post-war tract housing development in the Kansas City area. Like so many of their generation, its residents, mostly first time home buyers in their twenties and thirties, came to Ruskin to raise their baby-boom families with the optimism of the fifties. When the tornado scattered their dreams along its path, they came back, and changed a housing development into a community. Author Carolyn Glenn Brewer's family was among those caught off guard by the tornado. Most of the houses on her block were leveled to the foundation. She combines her story with extensive interviews from nearly one hundred survivors and period media coverage. The narrative flow of this book reads like fiction, but makes the tornado, and the summer that followed, pulse with reality.

30 review for Caught In The Path, A Tornado's Fury, A Community's Rebirth

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    This storm defined my childhood as the 57 Ruskin tornado blew through what would be the neighborhood I grew up in only a couple of years later. The eye-witness accounts captured here are from the older brothers and sisters and the parents of my classmates. As a result of this storm I spent my elementary years on constant storm alert. We had more tornado drills at school than spelling tests. Even years later, community members talked about where they were when the tornado came through. It was the This storm defined my childhood as the 57 Ruskin tornado blew through what would be the neighborhood I grew up in only a couple of years later. The eye-witness accounts captured here are from the older brothers and sisters and the parents of my classmates. As a result of this storm I spent my elementary years on constant storm alert. We had more tornado drills at school than spelling tests. Even years later, community members talked about where they were when the tornado came through. It was the defining event of the community, right down to how all my Ruskin High School classmates knew that after the storm, the school sign spelled R-U-I-N.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Freda Walrod

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book has been on my shelf for quite some time, and I've skimmed through it more than once, but the 60th anniversary of the storm prompted me to pick it up and read every word. On a warm and windy May evening in 1957 a tornado dropped from the sky near the small farming community of Williamsburg, KS. As it moved in its persistent path of destruction, it killed at least 6 people in 2 counties in Kansas before slamming into southwestern Jackson County, Missouri. Likely an F5 storm by today's s This book has been on my shelf for quite some time, and I've skimmed through it more than once, but the 60th anniversary of the storm prompted me to pick it up and read every word. On a warm and windy May evening in 1957 a tornado dropped from the sky near the small farming community of Williamsburg, KS. As it moved in its persistent path of destruction, it killed at least 6 people in 2 counties in Kansas before slamming into southwestern Jackson County, Missouri. Likely an F5 storm by today's standards, as it passed through small and historic towns and communities it destroyed homes, businesses, and lives. The hardest hit area was the young post-war housing tract of Ruskin Heights, made up of families in new homes prepared to raise their baby-boomer children. Shopping centers, schools, and homes added debris to the monster that travelled 71 miles, leaving 39 dead in the first 48 hours, and 5 more in the following years. This is the story, told in the survivors own words, of the horrors of that night, and more importantly of the generosity and support as neighbors banded together to help each other and rebuild their community. I was not directly affected by this storm, in fact I hadn't been born yet, but I've heard stories about it all my life. These days, all of my family live in homes that would have been very near the path of the tornado, within a couple of miles of Ruskin Heights. I frequently drive by the memorial that was built to honor the ones who died. What saddens me more than the story of loss during the storm, is the fact that it is no longer a close community. Rather it is a crime ridden neighborhood where nightly gunshots have become the norm, and less than 30% of the houses are owner occupied. The only reason this didn't get 5 stars is that it was hard to keep track of who was who as the parts of the book progressed, and I was hoping to relate locations more to current places and landmarks.

  3. 5 out of 5

    pianogal

    I didn't love this one. There's no narrative. It's like reading 140, cut and paste, newspaper articles. There's no continuity between sections. There's no clarification about who the people in the stories are talking about. This one had the potential to be really good, but the author did nothing with all the information she painstakingly gathered. For me, it just needed more love to be shaped into a story, instead of being chopped into this mess. I didn't love this one. There's no narrative. It's like reading 140, cut and paste, newspaper articles. There's no continuity between sections. There's no clarification about who the people in the stories are talking about. This one had the potential to be really good, but the author did nothing with all the information she painstakingly gathered. For me, it just needed more love to be shaped into a story, instead of being chopped into this mess.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Rucker

    I read this for the first time as a kid. I had heard the tragic stories as a kid being passed back and forth from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents ( who moved to Ruskin Heights the year after the tornado.) I read this again a few months ago, and just could not put it down. A moving account by families and people who my mother grew up And sent to school with. I will have to say that this book did spark a weather fascination and obsession that I still have. Can't wait to read her second I read this for the first time as a kid. I had heard the tragic stories as a kid being passed back and forth from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents ( who moved to Ruskin Heights the year after the tornado.) I read this again a few months ago, and just could not put it down. A moving account by families and people who my mother grew up And sent to school with. I will have to say that this book did spark a weather fascination and obsession that I still have. Can't wait to read her second book about the small children affected.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    An emotionally heart-wrenching and poignant account of the May 1957 Ruskin Heights tornado. If you're a storm fanatic as I am, this is one to read and remember that it's not just about the storm, but it's more about the human cost.. An emotionally heart-wrenching and poignant account of the May 1957 Ruskin Heights tornado. If you're a storm fanatic as I am, this is one to read and remember that it's not just about the storm, but it's more about the human cost..

  6. 4 out of 5

    George

    Very good account of the 1957 Ruskin Heights, MO tornado. Could've been a bit more narrative as opposed to jumping around amongst various recollections but that's only a minor distraction. Very good account of the 1957 Ruskin Heights, MO tornado. Could've been a bit more narrative as opposed to jumping around amongst various recollections but that's only a minor distraction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David White

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  9. 4 out of 5

    Evan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ashton Kellogg

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Kay

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  14. 4 out of 5

    Peter Brewer

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gunspurs

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Filip

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jo

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jacquelynn Nessmith

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  23. 5 out of 5

    Art

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adonia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Cheng

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Poff

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mike Serrone

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stacie

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