While he was at his family farm to the north, David McCartney’s dad was stuck in Charles City when the infamous tornado of May 15th, 1968 laid its path of destruction through town. McCartney was not quite 12 years old at the time, but recalls his dad having to ride out the damaging storm in the law firm he operated back then near the Floyd County Courthouse. McCartney, who graduated CCHS in 1974, says his dad was lucky to survive while others not so much, even though they knew the tornado was coming.
Now an Archivist with University of Iowa Libraries, McCartney says witnesses reported at least two tornadoes joining forces to create the huge EF5 tornado that killed 13 residents and leveled so much of Charles City. He also has at least one “corny” memory of the tornado’s aftermath.
This Saturday (05.15) marks the 53rd anniversary of the tornado which also went on to cause massive destruction to Elma in Howard County. In all, the tornado was on the ground for about 65 miles and at one point had an estimated width of 400 yards, which is equal to the length of four football fields.