Michigan’s Worst Natural Disaster: the Flint-Beecher Tornado, 1953
June 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of Michigan’s worst natural disaster: the Flint-Beecher Tornado.
This tornado was massive: eight hundred yards wide, winds over 200 miles per hour, and kept a path of destruction going for twenty-seven miles through Genesee and Lapeer Counties. This beast was the most brutal out of eight tornadoes that swept thru Mid-Michigan’s eastern half that summer evening. It was Michigan’s worst natural disaster and the last to kill over one hundred people in a single tornado storm. One hundred and sixteen people died and another eight hundred and forty-four were injured. The town of Beecher got the worst of it along with Flint - the towns being just seven miles apart.
340 homes destroyed
107 had major damage
153 had minor damage
50 more buildings were annihilated including businesses
$19,000,000 in damages – adjusted for 2023 would be around $210,000,000
116 people perished
55 of them were under 20 years old
The National Guard Armory was turned into a temporary morgue; when relatives arrived to identify family members, they were warned that what they were about to witness was extremely gruesome.
All available National Guard crews were on duty and the Red Cross fielded over 12,000 calls from worried friends and family members.
The Flint and surrounding communities raised an admirable amount of funds and rebuilt the town of Beecher, with one of the country’s biggest “building bees” ever seen with neighbors, strangers, and other volunteers arriving to help bring the town back to life.
It was Michigan’s all-time worst natural disaster – commemorating 70 years in June 2023.
Michigan's Worst Natural Disaster: the 1953 Flint-Beecher Tornado