Hanover College Triangle on
George Lihvarchik, "One experience parallels others," Triangle, 26 April 1974, 4.
Good morning world. It’s nice to know that you’re still here. I realize now that last night’s tornado was not a dream but rather a real and devastating nightmare. I’ve just received word from Gary (Gary Green, a student at Hanover) that another victim was found in the rubble of the Hanover tragedy.
I didn’t sleep in my room last night I couldn’t. There is a tree reaching five feet into my room through the remains of what used to be a window. Broken glass decorates the floor, beds, and dressers.
I spent the night in the room of two of my close friends. Bart and Peanut; and went to the window almost instinctively when I awoke. Directly in front of me was a pile of rubble with Hanover’s characteristic ancient oak trees uprooted and dismembered. They used to form beautiful rows that accented our new multi-million dollar library. The library still stands, but without the expensive copper roof which was visible in different junk piles across the campus. The campus has changed, too.
All of that propaganda and promotional jargon about Hanover College being the most beautiful campus in America, well, I believed it. The place had started to grow on me and I frequently took evening walks out to the point (overlooking the Ohio River) where I wondered how it must have been fate that I wound up in such a beautiful environment, and good fortune that I would graduate from Hanover, but several things have changed.
Residence halls, essentially the Theta and Phi Mu sorority houses were deroofed. Parker Auditorium has lost part of its bell tower and virtually every building on campus became the final resting place for giant trees. Where there used to be greenery and trees now exists hollows where trees as tall as a water tower have been pulled up by the roots and replanted somewhere else.
Parker Auditorium is now visible from the Hanover entrance, where before all that could be seen was lofty tree tops. (I hear an ambulance or volunteer fire department siren blaring again; they’ve been relatively quiet for a while after screaming constantly last night.)
The estimated loss according to President John Horner is $8 million. Everyone is preparing to go home. We all wonder what happens next. The town of Hanover, like Madison and many other towns along the Ohio River has been practically leveled.
National Guardsmen and a security force at selected Hanover students have been guarding the campus all night from looters. The campus center has been turned into an emergency free food line to aid villagers, faculty, and students who have been involuntarily evicted from destroyed
dwelling places. The food is being rationed. One cup of milk and one cup of coffee is allowed each individual per meal. There is a minimal water supply. No showers, no washing up or flushing toilets. A ditch has been dug behind Wiley Hall for sanitary excretory purposes.
They are asking, no pleading for student volunteers. I think I’ll stay for awhile and help. A reconstruction of the actual tornado event should explain why.
A fellow track runner Gary Green, from Jennings County (Indiana), came to my room and pulled me away from my typewriter about 3:15 p.m. to run a track workout. We went out the to run five miles around the Hanover countryside. It started to pour rain about midway through the workout, and we decided to finish our workout with some 220 intervals on the track out at the stadium.
We had just started our first 220 when we heard the alarm go off at the Hanover Volunteer Fire Department and as we rounded the curve we looked off into the West and saw a not too distant funnel touch down and stir up a mass of dust smoke and wood.
The storm visibly was approaching fast so we decided not to attempt to dash to a house that was about 300 yards away. Rather we sprinted to a ditch which ran parallel to the track and tennis courts. Both Gary and I lay flat in the ditch and grabbed hold of metal post sticking out of the ground. As we lifted our heads, I shouted “I don’t believe it, look at it.”
I jumped to my feet and stared sprinting in between the tennis courts and baseball diamond, with Gary following. He grabbed my arm and ordered me to get down in a nearby washout where there was a water main sticking about two feet out of the ground. It was just about big enough for the both of us, and we jumped in it, lay down, grabbed hold of the pipe and watched the approaching funnel.
We watched open mouthed as the funnel with its whipping tail ignited explosions of brown smoke and large splintered fragments. It continued on down the main street of town resembling an old fashioned stream engine churning up huge billows of smoke and fragments while following its uncharted course. Gary and I watched the funnel jolt toward the stadium and as the tail touched down at the front of the trailer court outside the stadium, I buried my face in the mud, my one fist clenched tightly to the water main right below Gary’s and my other arm trying to shield my head.
My body tensed, and I started to pray. I could feel the wind swirling around me so I lifted my head to see what was happening. Directly above my head was a swirl of large fragments. Behind me, the 10 foot storm fences covered with canvas wind breakers swayed back and forth like a wing in the wind. Suddenly the fence collapsed backward to the ground staying in chorus with the teeth grating sound of the metal posts being wrenched from their cement foundation.
Gary turned my attention to the trailer court. His face reflected the agony of the disaster. No trailer was left untouched. Most were crumpled like tin foil. Others were overturned and twisted one end over the other. We hurried to offer help.
Suddenly a van with a service station insignia on the side streaked into the trailer court and screeched to a halt in front of an overturned trailer. The driver jumped from the van and ran to the pile where he bulldozed his way to the top of his ex trailer. Flinging rubbish haphazardly and with a horrified look on his face he screamed for a child he believed to be buried there. A neighbor assured him that his child was okay, but a lady in the last trailer in the court wasn’t as fortunate.
Gary and I watched about six men pulling her from her trapped position beneath a trailer wall. A young lady (mid 20’s) despairingly dropped her arms to her knees and then shielded her face as she cried. “That’s all we have. That’s everything.” The twisted trailer resting on top of her car.
I returned to my room a couple of hours after the storm had subsided. My clock was stopped at 3:53. A tree limb reached into my room through the window and pointed to broken glass scattered about my room. There on my desk was my typewriter where only a few hours earlier Gary had interrupted me from typing a critique of Moby Dick for a literature class. I scanned the line of print to the point where I had left off, and felt a cold chill come over my body as I read the last few words I had typed before the tornado hit. “It is significant that Ishmael survives because Ishmael see himself as related to al me and especially in a deep bond with Quequig. It is through the tool of his friend (the coffin) that Ishmael is saved once again emphasizing that human relatedness is essential to human survival.”
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