The following article is from the front page of the June 27, 1974, Lowell Tribune:
TORNADO STRIKES LOWELL
Clean-Up Work Continues. . .
Damage Estimated at $1,500,000
Literally 'hundreds' of people helped after the recent tornado and it's impossible to recognize and thank everyone who gave so generously of their time and equipment. To enumerate some while inadvertently omitting others would not be fair.
Members of the Police, Fire and Street Departments, various organizations plus individuals spent a sleepless Thursday night and worked late into Friday, cleaning up and helping.
Business firms furnished manpower and equipment. Nearby communities pitched in to help. THANK YOU!.....from each and every citizen in Lowell.
By Cathleen Humphrey
Tornado is a terrifying word even for those who have never experienced such a storm. Tornado is what brings about disaster in other areas of the country, not here.
Last week, however, a tornado did strike here in Lowell and those who saw the destruction it brought, the unbelieveable strength it carried, are now saying it was worse than they had ever believed possible. No printed article or even filmed documentary could have prepared the witnesses to last week's storm for what they saw happen in their own community.
Most amazing of all, perhaps, is that there were no deaths or even serious injuries resulting from the storm. And the outpour of compassion by the community as a whole for one another is something that will be remembered long after the rubble is cleared and the town is physically back together again.
In the wake of the storm, which struck a week ago today just after 8 p.m. and caused more than $1.5 millioni in damages, six homes were totally destroyed with another 50 residences and 10 commercial buildings damaged.
Home damage was confined primarily to the Indian Heights subdivision, where the Larry Stoller home was hardest hit. Completely gone were the Stoller living room, family room, a bedroom, the garage and kitchen. Fortunately, the Stollers were visiting with friends a few miles away when the storm hit and they escaped injury.
Also in Indian Heights, the Jack Dougherty home was left in ruins. The family had gone to the basement when weather conditions became threatening and were forced to dig their way out moments later as the storm passed. The home of West Creek Township Trustee Kitchell Gorbal was severely damaged in addition, though Robert Mathews' house, which is located between Stoller's and Dougherty's homes, was untouched.
Extensive damage was evidenced at the Tri-Creek School Corporation Administrative Offices on Commercial Avenue. Though the rear of the building was completely demolished, there are reports that the rest of the building may also be damaged beyond repair. As of Monday, a temporary office was established in the old Fry's Department Store building across the street from the rubble that remains of the original offices, though there is no word on where a permanent site will be set up.
Some sources quote the damage to the building and contents at $100,000 and state and federal authorities have been contacted for directions in making the necessary financial changes. Though there has been no estimate as to the extent of damages to the old records, there is a report that the daily records which were kept in the front section of the building received little damage. The supplies which were salvaged have been moved to the various buildings in the school district, awaiting further word.
Officials with Bryan Manufacturing plant have declined to appraise the extent of damage to that building which lost a 40-foot section of roof. By Monday, a temporary covering had been placed over the hole in the roof and some of the 450 male and female workers were starting back to their jobs. It was thought that the plant could be back in full operation by this weekend. Though only maintenance and clean-up personnel were at work after the storm, pay checks were issued to workers last Friday.
Some feel it was only a miracle which prevented death and severe injury at the Apple Valley Mobile Home Park, near Interstate 65 and Route 2, where five trailers were totally destroyed. A damage estimate for that area is $150,000.
The $1.5 million damage estimate was revised from the original $250,000 figure after a survey of the destruction was made last Friday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and representatives of the federal Small Business Administration. Early this week town officials were "mum" on the subject of Lowell qualifying for federal financial assistance as the result of being declared a disaster area, though officials had been quoted earlier as being optimistic over the possibility.
A state engineer who was sent by Gov. Otis Bowen was to arrive in the community Monday before setting up a temporary office in the basement of the town hall. According to reports, future news releases on the matter of federal aid will come from that office.
Immediately after the storm, individual home owners began cleaning yards and making minor repairs. Comments such as, "This has revived my faith in human nature", "The first time my neighbor spoke to me in five years was last Thursday when he offered candles and water", "We feel lucky to just be alive" are still being heard in Lowell this week.
Assistance came from outside the Lowell community from all adjoining neighbors and from persons as far away as Illinois. Police units from nearly all of the local communities rushed to the area within minutes of the storm, including all available vehicles from the Lake County Sheriff's Police with the burglary squad and units from the Indiana State Police who set up a mobile communications command post.
The women and children of Lowell were not idle, but spent many hours doing all they could to help. More than 700 workers were fed meals which had been prepared and served by ladies from inside and outside the community.
Total restoration of electrical service was not completed until late Friday, partly due to the fact that supervisory personnel were on the job as linemen with regular crews out on strike.
Lowell's street department is credited with doing a "fantastic" job, being on the scene a few minutes after the winds subsided. Work contined around the clock until most of the debris was trucked away and the streets were passable. Main roads leading into town were closed to all but local residents and persons on official business Friday to allow the crews room to work.
Though the tornado was Lowell's first since 1948, all those who were effected in one way or another by the storm hope it will be the last. With no insurance against such disasters, however, it is heartening to know that Lowell, as a community of strong people can stand up to any crisis. Perhaps that's insurance enough.