GREENWOOD — Next month, Greenwood residents will remember the events of April 19, 1968, when a tornado slammed into the town of 2,000. What is now believed to be an F5 tornado devastated Greenwood, toppling the courthouse that sat on the south side of the square since 1916, destroying businesses and killing 13 people.
The Greenwood Democrat has spent the past two years gathering photographs and interviewing survivors.
“We began working on this project a little over two years ago,” said Greenwood Democrat Publisher Summer Aina. “When we realized that the 50th anniversary of such an important event was coming, it was decided that we wanted to do more than just add a special section to the paper, and that is when we had the idea to print a magazine.”
On April 19, the Greenwood Democrat will unveil the “Voices from the Storm” magazine at a special event at the Greenwood High School Student Union from 6-8 pm. The event will feature a special panel of survivors who were present for the 1968 tornado and the premiere of the “Four Minutes in April” documentary, produced by the Greenwood Democrat and edited and directed by Greenwood’s own Regan Jones.
Attendees are invited to ask questions and share their own personal connection. The documentary consists of news footage and interviews.
“When I started speaking with the survivors of the storm, I made the decision to videotape the interviews for posterity's sake,” said Greenwood Democrat Editor Dustin Graham. “As time went on, we realized that there are a lot of people who would like to see the first-hand accounts of the men and women who were here in 1968.”
The “Voices from the Storm” magazine will be available for purchase following the event and can be preordered now. The publication will be a glossy magazine and will contain stories, photographs and maps that have been collected.
“We want the magazine to be a historical keepsake,” Aina said.
"Voices From the Storm" can be preordered for $12.95 at the Greenwood Democrat office at 3600 Wheeler Ave. in Fort Smith or at greenwoodtornado.com. Tickets to the event are now on sale at the same web address. Advance tickets are $20 or $30 at the door.
This project is sponsored by Greenwood Public Schools; Greenwood Chamber of Commerce; Shelter Insurance — Agent Phil Hicks; Arvest Bank; Osborn Insurance Agency; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Pizza Barn; City of Greenwood; Chuck Fawcett Realty; Greenwood Garage Door; All-Tech Machine and Tool Inc.; Walters, Gaston, Allison and Parker; and South Sebastian Historical Society.
There are still seats and sponsorship opportunities available. Call (479) 996-4494 option 1 for information or visit www.greenwoodtornado.com.