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Published August 30, 2011, 08:25 AM

Survivors recall lesser known 1956 tornado

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When you think of tornados and Fargo, the storm of 1957 comes to mind. Many have forgotten the year before on this date in 1956, another strong tornado ripped through some of same part of Fargo as the '57 storm.

When you think of tornadoes and Fargo, the storm of 1957 comes to mind. Many have forgotten the year before on this date in 1956, another strong tornado ripped through some of same part of Fargo as the '57 storm.

In 1956 a strong F3 tornado with winds over 250 MPH came across this spot from the south less than a year later an F5 with winds over 300 MPH swept across from the West. Today on the 55th anniversary of the first storm we talked with some of those who lived through it.

Virginia Schwartz – 1956 Tornado Survivor: "All of sudden I got thrown out and I hit the closet doors. And then I'd go back again. I was thrown around

Virginia Schwartz lived in a trailer located here on 22nd St just south of Main Ave right around where the tornado touched down.

Virginia: “I was screaming too. I remember my throat really gave me trouble for about 2 or 3 days after that.”

From its touchdown the storm moved north across Main Ave north hit the Fargo Tank Company blowing pipes around like toothpicks. This Quonset Hut survived the storm. Moving further north and crossing 7th ave it hit the Ackerland house. Richard Ackerland, who was visiting his aunt, was injured in the storm and ended up in the hospital for weeks. 55 years later he is in a hospital bed again fighting a pancreatic illness. The memories of his mother's and aunts action during the storm are still fresh.

Richard Ackerland – 1956 Tornado Survivor: "Putting their weight against the door and they couldn't get it to shut. And all of a sudden it was just kind of a big poof and the house went up and I just remember pushing our way through the debris.

The next year his family would lose there own home to the 1957 tornado. For that storm his Dad drove them out of town. After going through two tornados in a year a young Richard found an upside.

Richard: “We thought it was kind of near because we had Red Cross trucks all over and you could go drink all the chocolate milk you wanted. “

The severe damage from this powerful storm would likely be the stories of legend had not it been passed by the complete devastation of the ‘57 storm.

Interestingly this spot where two such devastating storms crossed is right near Sandbag Central were so much has been done to stop devastating flooding.

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