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On April 3rd, 1974 people in Xenia saw black smoke rising, like a wall, and then the wall started turning in.It was an F-5 tornado. There were twisters all through Ohio and in other states- 148 were confirmed that day throughout the United States and Canada.The tornado that struck Xenia killed 32 people and injured over 1000. Two National Guardsmen also died fighting a fire. Hundreds of homes were shredded into bits and downtown was demolished.As part of an oral history project, staffers from the Greene County Public Library interviewed people who were in Xenia that day. And those voices make up our series.

Remembering the Xenia Tornado: Donna Otneal

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Alan Staiger

When people tell the story of the April 3, 1974 tornado, it begins with small details of the afternoon- letting the dog out, going for pizza, watching TV after school. The Andy Griffith show was interrupted by the WHIO TV weatherman with a warning to take cover.  Donna Otneal shared her memories of that day with our series producer.

Donna Otneal was interviewed by Alan Staiger of the Greene County Public Library. Tomorrow April 3rd, there will be a gathering at the Tornado Memorial, at the corner of N. Detroit Street and E. Market Street, in Xenia -at 4:15pm to commemorate the victims of the 1974 tornado.  A reception will immediately follow at the Xenia Community Library.  More information is available here. 

For more on the Greene County Public Library's Voices of Greene County series, click here.