April 3, 1956 – The Great Hudsonville/Standale Tornado

April 3, 1956 – Hudsonville/Standale Tornado | WOODTV.com Blogs.

Today marks the 59th anniversary of the deadly F5 tornado that struck West Michigan – especially Hudsonville and Standale – killing 17 people and leaving widespread damage.

Local Wood-TV Meteriologist Bill Steffen referenced this historic event on his weather blog today (linked above), providing a brief summary of it and posting some links of interest. I include his opening sentences and then give you two videos available on this tornado.

Today, April 3rd, 2014, is the anniversary of the strongest tornado ever to hit the state of Michigan. The strongest wind on the surface of Earth in 1956 was on Van Buren Street in Hudsonville, Michigan on April 3, 1956. There were 17 fatalities (13 in Hudsonville) and 340 were injured.

I recall being told about this terrible storm as a youngster (I was born two years after it). The lake across from which we lived for a time (Fennessy) was virtually filled with dirt and debris (still great for bass fishing though!); and the home my parents live in now, which was being framed at the time, was twisted on its foundation.

I also remember hearing about the sermon Rev.Gerrit Vos preached in Hudsonville PRC after the event, which became a meditation on Psalm 46, later published in the Standard Bearer (April 15, 1956). If you have wondered about the context of this unique meditation, now you know.

Here is the opening text of that message – powerful exposition of God’s Word and well worth your reading in its entirely (just follow the above link).

“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

Ps. 46:8, 10, 11

Our village received a very special visit by the Lord Christ.

It was a visit of the majesty on high.

What we really received is a little foretaste of the end of the world.

Some of us went to heaven in the process of that visit. Others are in the hospital because of that visit. Some of us had a brush with death. All of us were deeply impressed by that visit.

God came to us, and He roared: I have never yet heard a voice such as we heard around supper time, Tuesday evening, April 3, 1956. It sounded as though a thousand express trains were traversing the sky.

His footsteps were seen; He walked from the southwest to the northeast, skirting our village: everyone was aware of His august presence.

And we were afraid: many cowered in the basement of their homes, while God ravaged their properties (?). He flung houses and barns far and wide. Such debris was mixed with black muck and the dust of the earth. He snuffed out the lives of some of us, broke the bones and the flesh of others: they were left moaning in His wake.

Oh yes, no one can dispute it: God walked among us; His Christ paid us a special visit; He left desolation, death, pain and misery.

But also awe, the awe of the childlike fear of Jehovah.

One man said: My Jehovah was beautiful in His raging! And that man lost half of his worldly goods, and his life was in jeopardy.

Yes, I have seen Him too.

His pathway through Hudsonville was about 3 or 4 city blocks from my dwelling.


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