Omahans Remember Tornado of '75

It’s been 39 years since a tornado ripped through Omaha killing three, injuring hundreds and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Many people can still remember exactly what they were doing when the sirens went off at 4:19 p.m.

The warning sounded after a brief touchdown was reported at 132nd and Harrison.

On Tuesday, the 1975 tornado was the topic of discussion at Amy’s Hair Salon. Valerie Couch was a teenager at home watching television. Paul Marek was a teacher at Ralston Middle School.

Marek said, “We knew the tornado was blowing all over the city. We got under our little kitchen table and I remember looking at her going, ‘this isn’t going to do much at all.’”

Val Couch said, “We were watching TV and all of a sudden it kind of crackled and went out. We were all angry because we just missed Gilligan’s Island so we went out to look at the sky and it looked kind of a greenish color.”

It was after the storm when both Paul and Valerie realized just how destructive that greenish-looking sky had become.

Val said, “You drove by Westgate on the interstate - you just couldn’t believe it was the same city. It was just a bunch of twigs. Everything had snapped like that. It was really incredible.”

Paul told us, “It just kind of stripped right through and hit Westgate and to have fewer people injured as what was recorded is kind of a miracle I would think.”

Paul believes it’s that miracle that makes people remember that terrible day - a day that most survived.

He said, “I think people feel like they avoided a disastrous circumstance and they were so fortunate that there weren’t those major casualties like all the tornadoes that came through the Midwest over the last few years. You just feel blessed that that didn’t happen to you. So, it’s pretty amazing.”

It addition to the tornado, 1975 also brought Omaha a blizzard to cope with when winter rolled around.

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