Tornado of ’85 damages Wheatland’s industry

Tornado 85: Wheatland Damage

The business district in Newton Falls was certainly damaged but not like the industrial district in Wheatland.

The 1st day of June in 1985 in Wheatland was a beautiful one, who would of imagine the last day of May could be so horrible. The tornado struck with fury in this small Pennsylvania burrow. They ripped apart the industrial base. Totally destroying several industry buildings.

There Helen Duby says the destruction totals 98% of the community’s industry. That equals about 500 jobs. As for the people, they spent the day cleaning up what was left.  Between 40 and 50 homes were said to be completely destroyed.   While the homes are gone, the memories of what changed the lives of so many will never leave.

PHOTOS | Tornado of ’85

“Somebody went to the door and said, ‘the tornado is coming, the tornado is coming!’ and right then my boss called. I said everyone get to the doorway but everyone scattered. So my girlfriend and I were both bartending, I brought here in the doorway and the phone rang and it was my boss and said what’s going on I said, ‘the tornado was coming’. Then everything started knocking us on the floor, I still had the phone in my hand saying ‘help me, help me’. Everything was falling down and hitting us. Picked us up. Like the wind was gonna take us. The beer fell down on us. Trees flew by. And when I got up, we had stuff all over us. I had to dig her out. There was mud and dirt all the way up and mud in our mouths.”

“I couldn’t find the hotel. I kept screaming for her. Start picking up the rubble. Somebody told me she got out alive, I don’t see how.”

“I don’t believe this many people lived as once did.”

“Do you think the community can ever rebuild to where it used to be?” “Oh definitely, Wheatland is a fighting town they’ll come back.”

95% of Wheatland’s industrial base was out of business. But the tough town is fighting back. Indications are that at least 70% of the companies destroyed have either started to rebuild or are planning on getting back into business.

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