At age 18, Leonard Brush was at his girlfriend's house 15 minutes before they heard the wind pick up, saw the hail come down, watched trees be uprooted and felt the windows shatter.
That's when they hit the ground and the last time Brush, now 78, saw his girlfriend, Pat Fender, alive.
It's been 60 years since the Beecher community's lives were turned upside down, but Brush said the memories are vivid and always in the forefront of his mind, according to The Flint Journal.
On the evening of June 8, 1953, a F5 tornado ripped through the Beecher community, killing 116 people and destroying nearly 350 houses. The tornado remains one of the nation's most deadly.
Brush, a 1952 Beecher High School graduate, had been dating Fender, a 1953 Beecher High school graduate, for more than a year and a half. In his mind, she will forever be 17.
"When the windows blew out, we just hit the floor. We didn't know what was going on. We could see the wind. We could see a few trees blown over. That was last conscious moment, laying next to her on the living room floor," said Brush, who now lives in Pennsylvania. "We were there together and then I got knocked out and she got cast away somewhere."
Brush woke up roughly 30 minutes later, lying on a mattress about 100 feet from where the house once stood.
By then it was about 9:15 p.m. June 8. His right leg was broken and it was very dark, he said.
The victims of the Beecher tornado ranged from 5 months in age to 80.
Until that day, no one knew what a tornado was, Brush said. And no one knew how to prepare. But years after that, with every storm Brush was an emotional wreck, he said.
"The force of the wind was so strong that it just blew things into your body. I had a sensation of glass under my chin for months and months. The wind had blown sand right into my skin," Brush said. "That thing came down and stayed down so long that there were people all over the place that were affected by it. ... It was real devastation. What you see on the TV about the Oklahoma tornado (that raged through the city of Moore May 20 killing 24 people and leveling blocks). The Beecher tornado was that and then some."
And with every storm, survivors talked about how memories coming flooding back. With four tornadoes touching down in Genesee County the night of May 28, their eyes were on the sky.
Diane Bayeh, 70, of Mount Morris Township said her first thought when the storms rolled into the Beecher area last week was "Hey, don't let this happen again."
Bayeh was 500 feet from the destruction in 1953 when she was 10 years old. She and her family sprung into action 60 years ago, and she did the same thing when another tornado hit Tuesday, May 28.
"Oh absolutely (memories come back). The first thing you think of is 'Dear heavenly father don't let this happen. Keep people safe,'" she said.
Virginia Timm, 85 , of Burton said she thinks about the Beecher tornado every time there's a bad storm. When it gets windy, she immediately goes to the basement.
"It kind of scares ya," said Timm, who saw the destruction of the 1953 Beecher tornado after it went through.
Doug Morris will never forget the freight train-like sounds followed by a deathly silence.
Morris, 86, will never forget the destruction, the families trapped under roofs or the residents who didn't survive the deadly 1953 Beecher tornado.
Even though it's been 60 years, Morris remembers it like it was yesterday. He remembers lifting up collapsed roofs and sides of houses to rescue families hiding in their basements. He remembers carrying residents who didn't make it to his pickup truck.
"We did find straws and shovels and handles embedded right down in telephone poles, so the wind was terrific going down there," said Morris, who was a volunteer Mount Morris Township firefighter in 1953. "It's something I'll never forget."
Many people still talk about it today. Some say it's something they will never forget.
Maria Anderson, now 77, and her family experienced the destruction first hand. Days after the storm, gravel pieces would be falling out of her scalp in the shower, she said.
After the tornado hit, Anderson and her sister rode in the back of truck to the hospital, along the way taking in more and more passengers. She remembers a classmate being handed to her sister, dying in her arms.
She was 17 at the time the tornado hit, freshly graduated from Beecher High School. Sixty years later and the memories are still fresh.