1979 Tornados

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  • On the evening of Tuesday, August 7, 1979, at least three tornadoes down in southwestern Ontario, devastating numerous farms and homes in the Woodstock area. At around 6:52 pm, a supercell thunderstorm northeast of Embro dropped a tornado near the village of Golspie. As it approached the city of Woodstock within the next ten minutes, the tornado quickly widened to over half a kilometre. As many as 300 structures sustained damage in a four-kilometre track from Ingersoll Road through Sixth Avenue to Parkinson Road and approaching Highway 401. A church and a school near the intersection of Highway 401 and Norwich Avenue were both destroyed, while the pond in Southside Park was reportedly sucked dry by the tornado, and a fourteen-foot aluminum boat was carried for almost a kilometre. After the tornado left Woodstock, it is suspected that the tornado grew to its maximum size. As it passed over the town of Oxford Centre the damage path width had reached 1 kilometre. Within two minutes, thirty homes were destroyed, along with the local church and community centre in Oxford Centre. Following the two violent tornadoes which hit Oxford County and surrounding area, over a thousand people were left homeless, 350 homes were rendered uninhabitable, and two people were dead in addition to 142 injuries. Overall monetary losses totaled an approximate $100 million in 1979 Canadian dollars. The local government and those of surrounding counties sent thousands of dollars in relief. Businesses also set up food and clothing drives for those who lost their homes. Local radio stations set up a 10-hour radio segment called Operation Rebuild which raised almost half a million dollars, a relatively large amount of money for the time. The London Free Press distributed a booklet immortalizing the disaster, aptly titled Tornado. Over 50,000 copies were sold for $2.00 each. The Government of Ontario also granted $9 million in relief funds by the end of the year.

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            Item · 1979

            The fonds consists of four scrapbooks of newspaper clippings concerning the tornados that struck Woodstock and surrounding area on August 7, 1979.

            Ross, Don