70th anniversary of Waco’s most devastating weather event: May 11

Posted at 10:41 AM, May 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-12 07:30:18-04

WACO, Texas – Thursday marked 70 years since the most devastating weather event in Waco history.

In 1953, more than a hundred people would be killed after a tornado leveled downtown.


You can still see the scars left behind — in some of the surviving buildings here.

If you've been to the Dr Pepper Museum, you've seen the scars.

But not far from here, the Alico Building was spared.

Now, a look back at those who saw the destruction -- with their own eyes.

May 11, 1953, a thousand buildings wiped out.

More than a hundred lives cut short by a monster F-5 tornado.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Cullen Smith, one of the lucky ones. "I was in the law library."

The former lawyer tells 25 News back in 2018 about witnessing the unbelievable power of mother nature -- from the iconic Alico Building.

"I went over to my office – and there was debris coming through the sky everywhere,” Smith said. “It was not just a little bit of trash. It was all kinds of things and it was moving horizontal, not falling."

Days later, Smith would return to the Alico Building – one of the few still standing today.

"I was the first one allowed in our office,” Smith said, “and it was exactly like it had been when we left. The typewriters, the electric typewriters were running. You could hear them running – and they had the middle of documents that the secretaries had been typing on. They were in the typewriter and the motor was going and it just stopped like the world stopped right then."

Seven decades later, it’s still hard to believe.

Cullen Smith passed away in 2022.