April 26, 1991, Andover, Kansas Tornado

by Betty Meade April. 26, 2009 40303 views

April 26, 1991, started out as any normal spring day, with the exception that the National Weather Service had issued a warning that very strong storms could appear by evening. We didn’t know how true that prediction would be; by 7 pm, thirteen people in our town had died and 350 homes were destroyed, as a tornado, with an intensity of F5 (the highest rating), hit Andover, Kansas. .
When the tornado hit our home, we had 12 people (friends, family, and neighbors) taking shelter in our basement. Having grown up in Kansas (appropriately nicknamed, Tornado Alley), we were always aware of the damage tornados could do, but never thought for a moment we would ever be in one.
We were among the lucky ones; we escaped with only minor injuries, while only two blocks from us,13 people died. We lost our home, my mother’s home, everything we owned (except what we could dig out of the rubble), and our vehicles, but through it all, we learned what to value in life; our material items were quickly replaced, but human lives are irreplaceable. With the help of friends, family, and complete strangers we rebuilt our home. Much was learned from that fateful day…we will never again value material things, instead we value life; kindness and compassion need to be passed on to those in need. We learned to view each day as a gift..to treasure it and be thankful for what we did have. We don’t look back to what we lost, but looked at what we gained…the tornado brought out the best in people..the kindness of others got us through a difficult time…we strive to pass ths kindness on to others..

Andover Tornado [youtube.com]
This video of the tornado is amazing. The video was shot approximately 1.5 miles from our home. At 4.28 minutes into the video, you can see when it hit our neighborhood. At approx. 4.57 minutes into the video, if you look to the left of the shot, you will see a car in midair. The tornado was on the ground for an astounding 48 miles. It is truly an amazing video, but somewhat hard to watch, even after 18 years

We are thankful to our friends who took these photos.

Shot at my mother's home, looking next door to our home.

Our home..my husband is standing in our driveway. .The house standing across the street was just a shell, the back half of the home was completely destroyed.

My younger son, who was 8 at the time.

Our van and my husband's truck..Friends came following the tornado and put the tarp over the van in the hopes that we could salvage some items before the rains destroyed them..

Join the conversation
There are 31 comments , add yours!
Josephine 10 years, 6 months ago

thx God You and Your family are fine!
sorry 4 u experience :(

10 years, 6 months ago Edited
João Baptista 10 years, 7 months ago

The power of the nature!!!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Schling79 10 years, 7 months ago

That's scary. The house I'm currently living in was destroyed down to the foundation in a tornado in '79. It was an F4 when it went over my house and a total of 54 people died. I had a post about it a few months ago.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Vterezia 10 years, 7 months ago

wooow, FANTASTIC shots......

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Anaklimbongan 10 years, 7 months ago

I am really touched by your experience. It made me feel so privileged to live in my country Brunei Darussalam ("the abode of peace"), never having to experience such natural disasters....

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Shauna 10 years, 7 months ago

OMG...amazing shots, but it must have been horrible to go through.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Ines 10 years, 7 months ago

Fantastic, powerfull post and story!
Thanks for sharing

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Relee 10 years, 7 months ago

Very powerful story~amazing photos and footage, thank you for sharing.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Nancy 10 years, 7 months ago

Amazing, and that all were okay!!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Mehdi Saharkhiz 10 years, 7 months ago

OMG so sad

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Keith Flamã©E 10 years, 7 months ago

What an amazing story. It commends your character that you were able to take something so positive from the experience. Thanks for an exceptional post.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Tomie Poodle 10 years, 7 months ago

impressive nature!!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Tom 10 years, 7 months ago

Shows so much power, thanks for sharing this with the PB community

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Ania 10 years, 7 months ago

Amazing.... Very impressive!!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Amy-Mom 10 years, 7 months ago

amazing photos-so happy that your family was ok

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Cherax 10 years, 7 months ago

Wow. That's a remarkable story.
In 2003 my city was struck by fearsome bushfires which razed over 300 houses. Not mine, some some friends lost theirs, and my friend's wife and daughter were terribly burnt. The girl disfigured,and disabled for life.
I've seen pictures of people losing their houses like this, and cannot begin to imagine the feeling. Still, you appear to have fully recovered, and seem to have a refreshingly positive attitude to the experience.
You remind me of a late friend who used to say when something got broken, "Don't worry, things don't matter. People matter". Wise sentiment that I use today - but still easier to say than do sometimes.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Aydin 10 years, 7 months ago


10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Diane Davis 10 years, 7 months ago

I'm so sorry for anyone who ever went through such a thing. The video is just chilling. Thank you, I bet every April 26 is one to get through for you.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Rich 10 years, 7 months ago

Amazing to hear your story and how hard it is for you to watch the video 18 years on. Somethings stick in our minds as we go through life and somethings don't. I guess this event will stay with you for ever! Thanks for sharing such a big event in your life. I live in the UK and dont have the storms you have.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Sara G 10 years, 7 months ago

oooooh, that is so scary! Amazing footage and photos. I'm glad some good came out of it, families realizing what's really important and changing lives for the better. When people ask me how can God allow these things to happen, this reinforces what I tell them. Bad things happen with the weather, bad people too, but He is with us through it and some good is accomplished. Thanks for sharing.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Lyency 10 years, 7 months ago

it was an account that only a survivor can put in such simple and powerful words. many thanks.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Piyali 10 years, 7 months ago

I am sorry that you had to go through such a disaster and people losing their lives--it sends chill down my spine that nothing can rule over Mother Nature--glad that you were safe--thanks for sharing this with us--

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Kaitlyn 10 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Thats so sad but these are great shots.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Jon Abrahamson 10 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Powerful stuff.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Marsha 10 years, 7 months ago

Betty, I got chills reading your account...but you've certainly turned the misfortune into something positive in your lives. I remember how worried we were when we heard a tornado had hit Andover and so relieved when we heard your voices and knew you were okay. Like you said...it's the people that matter, not the things. Thanks so much for this inspirational post!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Mikkal Noptek 10 years, 7 months ago

Very impressive. It's something that you keep in mind all your life.
Thanks for sharing

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Oweena 10 years, 7 months ago

Amazing story, thanks for sharing as it's very interesting to hear a survivors side of the story as opposed to the antiseptic/sanitized version you get from the media.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Michael Sakowicz 10 years, 7 months ago

I went through Hurricane Andrew here in South Miami in 1992 and we were very, very fortunate to not have lost our home unlike a friend of ours. I too feel sorry when I see these shots and ready your story. Thankfully, as you say, you and your family were lucky. Nature really is incredible; for better, or in this case, for worse.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Laura 10 years, 7 months ago

Wow! I can't even imagine what you went through. But, as you said, you learned what is most valuable in life. Fabulous shots!

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Brian 10 years, 7 months ago

Amazing pictures. It is amazing the power of nature. Thanks for sharing.

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
Ricardo 10 years, 7 months ago

OMG =0
i feel so sorry for what happened :/

10 years, 7 months ago Edited
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