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Hall County Historical Society dedicates new marker at Tornado Hill 41 years after tragedy

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 10:31 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - People told stories about where they were the night of June 3, 1980 at Tornado Hill on Thursday.

The night when seven tornadoes struck Grand Island within a three hour time period, injuring 200 and killing 5.

“My sister died in the tornadoes,” said Grand Island Native Connie Lyions. “She was on South Locust, lived in a trailer court.”

If it had not been for her sister sending her to go babysit, Lyions would’ve shared the same fate.

“I probably wouldn’t be here, my kids wouldn’t be here, grand-kids wouldn’t be here, so she probably saved my life that night,” She told Local4 News.

Devastation could be seen for miles after the tragedy and there was so much debris, the city dug a hole and buried into what stands as Tornado Hill today.

“Other than this hill, there is no visual reminder of what happened to this community on June 3, 1980,” said Hall County Historical Society Vice President Michelle Setlik.

Stephanie Crosby wanted to change all that. She started fundraising for a historical marker to put on the hill permanently, so people would always know the story behind how it got there.

“It’s something that I wanted to make sure future generations knew about and the lives that were lost were remembered as well,” Crosby said.

She eventually achieved her goal. After eight months of fundraising and countless donations, the marker now sits at the bottom of the hill with the story printed in metal for people to see for years to come.

“As times go by, memories fade and hopefully this will keep the memory of those five that we lost that night,” Lyions said.

The Historical Society hosted a dedication ceremony for the marker on Thursday. Crosby hopes it will remind people that you can face a catastrophe if you come together and rebuild like they did back in 1980.

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