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April 9, 1947 - Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornado

152 KILLED, 85 IN WOODWARD
1,000 INJURED BY TORNADO.


Furious Storm Smashes Four State, Texas Towns

Woodward East Side Is Leveled

The Tornado struck the southwest corner of Woodward.

   Traveling northeast, it devastated the area west of the Katy tracks and south of Main street. Hitting the highschool building at the corner of Oak and Ninth, the storm angled east to Fifth street and north to the North Canadian River.

   Included in the area was the west end of the business district which was destroyed. Every store on Main street was damaged as far east as Fourth

The entire industrial and wholesale area was heavily damaged and much of it was destroyed.

   The twister hit at 8:42 p. m. By 9 o'clock rescue crews were searching the piles of broken lumber that housed over a third of the city's population less than half an hour before.

   Thursday morning Woodward was a stunned city. At noon residents were just beginning to see what has happened. The morgues were full and additional dead were being brought in as they were found in the debris.

   Estimates of injured ran well over 1,000 but no definite check had been made. Many injured were rushed to hospitals at Mooreland, Shattuck, Fairview, Watonga and to Oklahoma City. Some were taken to Clinton or Elk City over mud-covered roads.

   Work of identifying dead and injured was slow. Many were badly disfigured and lack of water made it impossible even to wash the injured.

   A 17-year-old youth entered a funeral home in this tornado stricken city Thursday.

   "Have you got my daddy?" he asked the attendant. They looked and found daddy - A. J. Warriner - among the dead.

   The lad straightened his shoulders, "Thanks," he said. "Now all I've got to do is find my mother."

Summary

   An estimated 152 persons were killed, more than 1,000 injured, and millions of dollars in property damage was caused by a tornado that ripped the northeastern Texas Panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma Wednesday night.

   The toll by towns:
WOODWARD, OK. - 85 killed, 1,000 injured, guards set up to prevent looting. Fire followed tornado, but torrential rains helped firemen extinguish flames. Power, light failed, and emergency generators used. Red Cross mobilized. Streets of town (population 5,500) littered by debris. One-third of town levelled.

HIGGINS, Texas: - 24 killed, 150 injured. Town (750 population) levelled except for telephone exchange, bank and school building, all brick. Two blocks of business district destroyed by fired, brought under control early Thursday. Rubble blocks traffic, bulldozer sent to clear streets.

GLAZIER, Texas - 8 killed, 40 injured in village (200 population), only one building left standing. Injured being treated at Canadian. Vigilantes formed.

WHITE DEER AND COBURN, Texas - also hit, but no death toll.

Doctors, Medicine Flown to Leveled Area:
Mighty Wind Cuts 100-Mile Path


   Death snatched the lives of 152 persons as it rode a tornado path 100 miles wide thru the world's richest wheat and cattle country Wednesday night.

   More than 1,000 were trampled, twisted, and broken by the force of the furious wind. Estimates placed property damage in the millions.

   Bulldozers and rescue crews Thursday combed the wreckage left in Woodward, hardest hit of three Oklahoma and as many Texas cities, and the know dead in Woodward reached 85 at noon.

   Gage reported 2 dead; Higgins, Texas 24, and Glazier, Texas, 8. Shattuck, where many of the dead and injured were taken, was said not to have been struck by the storm.

   Early estimates indicated at least 100 square blocks of Woodward either were leveled or so badly damaged as to be unsafe.

   In sharp contrast to the blackness of the storm, which struck at 8:40 p. m., Thursday's sun beamed brightly on the scenes of wreckage, while frantic survivors hurried from hospitals to aid stations and mortuaries seeking word of missing children, relatives and friends.

   Planes bring Doctors and medicine. By noon, the scene had become orderly as the methodical search for dead and injured went on. Airplanes roared overhead to bring in doctors, nurses, medical and food supplies. Highway machinery was clearing streets. Scores of ambulances moved with screaming sirens to carry their burdens of injured to hospitals in other cities. The Red Cross was feeding rescue workers and homeless from field kitchens set up throughout the city.

   The writhing, twisting tornado first dipped near White Deer, Texas, and roared northeastward through Glazier, population 200, and Higgins, population 750. Then it crossed the Oklahoma line to strike Gage and Woodward before lifting.

   Stunned residents of the Texas and Oklahoma cities had almost no warning of the approach of disaster. It was first a deafening roar, cut by brilliant lighting flashes which illuminated grotesque forms of lifted buildings before they were blown apart in midair, their debris twisting and whirling with the shattered limbs of uprooted trees.

   Two persons known to have been together in Glazier were lifted by the storm, and their bodies were found Thursday two miles apart, broken and twisted as the timbers of buildings which covered them.

   Labor Squabble Slows Phone Repair. In the midst of the fight for open communication lines to summon aid for the stricken cities, the Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., announced it had rejected a union offer to send striking telephone operators and repair crews back to their jobs in the stricken area because the union specified as a condition that the company call off supervisory employees now manning switchboards, and that the union be left to determine what constitutes an emergency in the five-state area where the company operates.

   Despite the strike, emergency long distance lines were manned, and, with the aid of state highway patrol radio, cries for help from the devastated area were heard and heeded so fast that within a short time emergency forces of both Oklahoma and Texas were converging on the scenes of death and wreckage.

   Using bulldozers to clear away the debris which Wednesday was the thriving center of one of the world's richest wheat and livestock producing areas, rescue crews at Woodward were divided into groups of five to dig through building wreckage for other possible victims of the storm.

   It appeared certain that no accurate lists of dead and injured would be available for hours. Hospitals and aid stations were jammed, and injured victims were being sent out by train and airplane for treatment at hospitals in nearby cities.

   A Santa Fe railroad special train moved dozens of the injured to an Alva hospital. A U. S. Army C-54 shuttled back and forth between Woodward and Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City Times - Thursday, April 10, 1947

Links to more Tornado information on this web site.

Tornado Intro Tornado Timeline Tornado Path Tornado Story
Tornado Heroes Tornado Stories Tornado Trivia After Tornado
Tornado Victims Tornado Victims Tornado Photos Tornado Remembered


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