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Midwest tornados bring back west Michigan memories | News

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Midwest tornados bring back west Michigan memories

Alpine Township, MI (WZZM) - Coverage of the deaths and damage caused by the storms in the midwest this weekend is resurrecting memories for west Michigan residents who felt the force of the Palm Sunday tornados in 1965.

"I can relate, I can relate," says Swan Inn co-owner Jeff Spruit. 

Throughout the day April 11, 1965 a line of tornados swept across the country from Iowa to Indiana.

There was damage in several Michigan counties.

In Kent County,  the Swan Inn was leveled in Alpine township.

Houses were destroyed, vehicles tossed around and 6 people in west Michigan were killed.

"Something like that you never forget," says Spruit. "Some things you remember for life."

Ernie Homrich was driving on Alpine Avenue near the Swan Inn when the storm picked up his 1 ton truck.

"Just spun me around," he recalls.

His truck disabled, Homrich got a ride part of the way and ran the rest to his house on nearby Alpine Church Road.

"As quick as I got up the hill I saw my place was gone," he says. "I had 3 kids and my wife at home."

Homrich says he went running into the rubble, shouting for his family.

They had all made it safely to the basement.

"And they hollered," he smiles. "They were real happy to hear somebody."

46 years later, survivors of the Palm Sunday tornados say the memory of the storms is still vivid.

"I respect them," says Homrich. "I see a thunderstorm and I think right away better take cover."

"It sure brings back a flashback," says Spruit. "I was only 7 years old but there is no forgetting."

5 people in Kent County, including a guest at the Swan Inn, were killed in the 1965 tornados.

Another died in Allegan County.

Nationwide the storm system spawned 47 tornados and killed 271 people.