Madison, Ind. survivor remembers ’74 tornadoes


by Chelsea Rabideau

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 3 at 6:41 PM

MADISON, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Thousands of families were affected by the monster tornadoes that tore through more than a dozen states, 40 years ago. We spoke with one woman who vividly remembers the day she learned all about tornadoes.

Before April 3, 1974, Cindy Turner had never heard of a tornado. In fact, she remembers snow falling in Madison, Ind. that morning. Then 9-years-old, Turner was running errands with her father and sister after school that day, listening to WHAS traffic reporter Dick Gilbert on the radio.

“We just knew it was going to be a bad storm,” she said. “We had no idea how bad.”

Turner could hear the nerves in her father’s voice when he said they should go pick up her grandparents from a house at the top of Hanging Rock Hill on Cragmont Street.

“My grandmother had dinner on the table, ready to eat, the food was in the bowls, you know, ready to serve and she said, ‘I think we can just ride this out,’” Turner said.

Turner’s father thought otherwise, forcing everyone in the car to head back down the hill.

“At that time, the hail started and the hail was just the size of tennis balls, it was just huge…Unbeknownst to us, we had to outrun the storm. I mean, it was right on our tail the whole time,” she said.

She recalled what her father did that day.

“He never did say the word tornado. And I think that was so he wouldn’t upset my sister and I and our grandparents, but he knew it was going to be bad,” Turner said.

The family tried to make it back down the hill to downtown Madison.

“We got about halfway down and he said, ‘I don’t think we can make it any farther’ and there was just debris, trees falling around us, and I mean, it was an intense storm, I’d never seen anything like it.”

The family took shelter under the well-known hanging rock halfway down the hill.

“My grandfather is a preacher and I’ve heard him pray many times in my life. But, that day, when we pulled under the hanging rock, he got on his knees and prayed and he prayed hard. I’ll never forget that,” she said.

The storm ripped a black path through Madison, leaving 10 people dead, hundreds hurt, and millions in damage.