May 4, 2003 Tornado Outbreak: Community of Stockton, Mo. remembers victims of deadly tornado

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 5:03 PM CDT
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STOCKTON, Mo. (KY3) - On May 4, 2003, the Ozarks was hit with multiple tornadoes, including one of the strongest and longest-tracked tornadoes of the day that hit Stockton.

The high-end F-3 tornado moved through the town square, leaving behind a destruction trail that tracked 83 miles. Almost two decades later, the town still bears the emotional scars of the storm, but its people are pushing forward with hope.

F3 Tornado hit Stockton
F3 Tornado hit Stockton(ky3)

Wanda Cassell, who has lived in Stockton for almost her entire life, is one of the many survivors who recall the tornado outbreak vividly. She lost her home, barns, fences, and part of her cattle. Her most significant loss and hardest goodbye were much more than a possession.

“I was able to get to the basement, but I couldn’t carry my husband, and he was not well, so he was blown away. My grandson found him in the field,” Cassell recalled.

She and the Stockton community worked tirelessly to rebuild the town over countless months.

Cassell finds positivity in the rebuilding process, saying, “The fact that our community held together, and we rebuilt - and we’ve done a much better job rebuilding, and I can see lots of positive things about it.”

Sheriff James McCrary of Cedar County considers it a blessing that there were only three fatalities in the area, considering the extent of the damage.

“I figured we would be, you know, retrieving bodies all night long, but that wasn’t the case. And I’m thankful for that,” Sheriff McCrary explained.

The tornado outbreak left an immense mark on Stockton’s small but humble town.

The community has rebuilt the Square and surrounding areas since and continues to move forward, even as they remember the horrid sights of that fateful day.

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