Cindy (Mau) Gottsch, contacted her old neighbor that still lives in the same house as he did when the tornado hit.
Vogel lived two houses south of the Maus.
I will always remember Tuesday, May 6th, 1975; the day of the Tornado of ’75!!
I arrived home from Roncalli High School about 3 p.m. The sky was an eerie gray, very humid, and no wind.
My uncle, Fr. Charles Buckley and my brother, Steve, were going to leave for the Ak-Sar-Ben horse races at 3:30 p.m., but my mom advised them not to go just in case as they may, later on, get caught in the storm. A tornado watch had been issued for the area earlier in the day.
My dad arrived home from work about 4 p.m. and all of us watched the television stations about the severe weather reports outside the Omaha area. At 4:15 p.m., the tornado sirens sounded and all of us, except my uncle, went to our rec-room in the basement. My uncle was from Oklahoma where they always had tornado warnings, so he was not as impressed with this one, neither.
At 4:29 p.m., the tornado touched down at 96th & Q streets as we listened to the accounts on TV and radio of its path.
At 4:45 p.m., we had heard on the radio the tornado was at 72nd and Pacific. At this time, the sky outside was totally black and it was raining hard. My uncle finally came down stairs and joined us in the rec-room. My dad looked out of our basement window and saw lots of debris in the air. At 4:47 p.m., the tornado was at our house.
It was the loudest sound I had ever heard, but for some reason, it didn’t hurt my ears. For 30 seconds, I could not see my hand in front of my face; it was that dark as the tornado passed. Lots of noises like wood cracking and windows breaking were heard as we all crunched behind our couch and table in or rec-room. In a moment, it was over. Luckily, the house was not blown off the foundation.
After all of us got over the initial shock of the tornado’s devastation, we tried to get upstairs from the basement; we couldn’t open the door. A single 2x4 had lodged itself into the door and made it impossible for us to open it out. At that time, a fireman had stuck his head in our broken basement window and wanted to know if everyone was OK. We said, “Yes”, and then he told us not to light any matches, as there were lots of gas leaks in the area.
We finally pried the door off its hinges and came upstairs to find it raining very hard. We had our roof torn off and two sides of our house were ripped away.
We were one of the last families to come upstairs from the basement because of us being stuck in the basement. As I looked around the neighborhood, I saw lots of devastation; houses flattened, lots of trees uprooted or completely gone. Our two cars, which were parked in front of our house, were now 1 house and 3 houses away, totally destroyed. Our neighbors, the Mau's, had a car in their basement – we found out later Colleen Mau and the 4 girls were sent to the hospital with cuts and scrapes. I walked over to Bakers Supermarket at 72nd & Blondo because they had the only phone that was working in the area. The line to make a call was very long, so I came back to the neighborhood.
Our family spent the night at my brother-in-law’s house about 5 miles away. The next morning and the next few days were warm and with clear skies. We spent the rest of the week cleaning up and salvaging what we could from our house. In the light of the day, we say how strong and powerful the tornado was. We had to show our identification every time we entered the neighborhood as the National Guard was patrolling the neighborhood.
We spent the summer of ’75 in Lake Forest Apartments at 114th and Maple as they rebuilt our house. We finally moved back in October 1, 1975. I still live in this house 30 years later and there are 6 other families that are still here in the neighborhood. To this day, I listen and react to the tornado siren diligently.