1926 November 26
Newspaper article from the Arkansas Gazette about a storm that struck Heber Springs in 1926.
[Page 1] HEBER SPRINGS
IS A SAD SCENE
More than Half of Town
Left in Ruins by
AT LEAST 15 KILLED
Is Believed List Will Mount to
30 When Search is
FIRE ADDS TO HORRORS
Special to the Gazette
Heber Springs, November 25. -- A scene of
utter desolation was left in this city
late this afternoon by the tornado
which struck here about 5:45, took a
toll of 15 lives and possible more,
devastated more than half the town and
injured scores before it left as swiftly
as it came.
Fire, which broke out at several
spots in the ruins of store buildings
and residentces, completed the ruin of
the stricken area and added to the
terror of the citizens, hundreds of
whome are homeless and separated
Roy Morris, wife and baby,
Ivan Parker, wife and brothers, Leo
Mrs. O.C. Woodson
Mrs. M.L. Rambo.
John Jones and wife
Ralph Wiggs and wife,
Wife of the Rev. Mr. Hayes.
H.P. Riddle's baby.
Thirty Believed Killed
The bodies of the above named vic-
tims had been identified and claimed
but it is estimated that the list of
dead will reach 30 ewhen the final ac-
counting has been made. there is so
much confusion and the wreckage of
frame buildings so great, it is impos-
sible to complete the gruesome task
of recovering bodies tonight. The
fire, whcih still rages unchecked in
some quarters, adds to the difficulty
of the task.
the family of Ivan Parker, consist-
ing of Mr. Parker, his wife and his
two brothers, Leo and Billy, were
cremated in the ruins of their home.
the sections of the town which suf-
fered most were in the vicinity of
what is known as the More & Case
addition and the Wilson addition. In
these portions only a few brick build-
ings are left standing and many of
them are damaged. All frame struc-
tures were crushed and many of the
timbers scattered like chaff.
[Page 2] Wreckage Fills Streets
The streets are littered with wreck-
age and it is impossible to move any
of the debris without machinery. The
electric light system was put out of
commission and the town is in dark-
ness save for the glow of the burn-
ing embers and the feeble llight pro-
vided by hundreds of lanters.
Volunteer workers from miles
around Heber Springs have come into
the town to aid in the relief work and
in the search for bodies. For several
miles along the roads the process of
lanters extend and newcomers are
taking the places of those who have
worked until they are exhausted.
Emergency stations for the injured
have been established in available
buildings and a corps of doctors and
nurses from neighboring towns in ad-
ministering first aid to those injured
most serioulsy. Several are expected
Storm Strikes Suddenly.
The storm struck with a suddenness
that dazed the populace. A threaten-
ing cloud appeared late in the after-
noon and within a very short time the
whole sky was overcast. Heavy drops
of rain began to fall followed by hail,
which casused considerable damage.
Then there was a low hum in the
distance and the tornado struck its
devastating blow. The fury of the
storm lasted only a few minutes, pos-
sibly five or six, which seemed like
an eternity. There was a deafening
roar and the mighty crash of timbers
being torn apart. The tornado swept
onward toward the northwest.
Heavy rain and hall continued for
some time, with a high wind blowing
steadily from the southeast. It was
impossible to ascertain exactly how
the fire started. Some contend that
it originated in a bolt of lightning,
while others declared that fires with-
in the wrecked buildings started the
The scene that followed the unex-
pected blow of the tornado was piti-
ful. Above the high wind and the
rain could be heard the anguished
walls of those who were pinned be-
neath heavy timbers. Men, women
and children staggered about the ruins
of homes, searching for missing mem-
bers of their families.
Volunteers, working feverishly, cut
away timbers and scattered embers in
their search for the dead and injured.
Bodies were laid to one side to be
identified later by half crazed rel-
atives, and the wounded were hurried
to shelter and first aid.
Hundreds of homeless persons were
given shelter in other sections of the
town, which escaped the fury of the
storm. Even in those portions there
was considerable property damage
from the high wind and the hail.
The devasted area is practically the
same territory that suffered from the
tornado of June 5, 1918, where 21 lives
were lost and 100 injured. Those who
escaped the storm 10 years ago con-
tend that this disaster is far worse
than the other.
Folk music; Folk songs
Heber Springs, Cleburne County (Ark.)
MFILM NEWS 431, Roll 208
Newspaper microfilm collection
Arkansas State Archives
"Heber Springs is a Sad Scene of Desolation," Arkansas Gazette, November 26, 1926, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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United States History
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