June 2, 1985: Aftermath of Tornado
Pittsburgh was spared the destruction caused by killer tornadoes that struck northwestern parts of Pennsylvania and sections of Ohio on Friday, May 31st. The tornadoes were the worst to hit the state since record-keeping began in 1854. The storms demolished property, took the lives of at least 61 Pennsylvanians and injured 600.
This photograph shows Dale Kemp, a retired machine shop foreman, assessesing damage to his home on Edgewood Road. Mr. Kemp sustained leg fractures in addition to losing his home.
But he expressed hope when interviewed by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We are going to rebuild,” said Dale Kemp. And the community helped. “Some men cut through uprooted trees in the front lawn while women helped wrap unbroken water glasses in newspaper… They’re friends, neighbors and people I don’t even know,’ said Mr. Kemp.
The closest funnel cloud to Pittsburgh was sighted at 9:40 p.m. on May 31st, nine miles to the north of the city, but it never touched ground. After the storm, the community of Allegheny County was concerned about the prospects of tornado hitting the area in the future. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did not try to allay their fears. On June 3rd, the newspaper ran a front-page headline that read: “Pittsburgh has ‘no wall’ against twisters.” The headline was inspired by a National Weather Service meteorologist, who said, “There’s nothing sacred protecting Pittsburgh from tornadoes. There is no wall around Allegheny County.”
(Photo by Tony Tye, Post-Gazette)