Today is a day for remembrance in our area, which was hit by the deadliest tornado in the state of Oklahoma on April 9, 1947. The devastating tornado slashed a deadly 221-mile path across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, before they had proper warning systems. It left in it's path 169 dead, 890 injured, and $9,700,000 in estimated property damage. In Oklahoma, 101 persons died, 95 at Woodward, the others in Gage and Shattuck. One of the ladies I occasionally quilt with lost a sister, who was carried away by the twister. The twin brother of another local man I know, was found wrapped around a telegraph pole, apparently his body was just smashed. In Texas, 68 were fatally injured, 51 at Higgins and 16 at Glazier. Both towns virtually obliterated, in Glazier the only thing left standing was the hospital shell and tiny jailhouse untouched, it's still there to this day. My mother in law lived in Canadian Texas, the next town. When she heard of the devastation she and my late father in law drove along the path, trying to get to relations in the area to ensure they were okay, which they were. First reported at 5:52 p.m. CST a half mile southeast of White Deer, Texas and disappeared 6 miles north of Nashville, Kansas (Whitehorse) about 11:00 p.m. Witnesses tracking the devastation in a small plane, claimed it never lifted off the ground for 221 miles! The NWS dispute this as not possible, but locals believe it. In Woodward, the path was 1.8 miles wide, "one of the widest on record." Forward movement of the storm averaged 42 miles per hour, givinig the people in its path little time to escape.Between 4,000 and 5,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged, including 626 houses razed and 920 damaged. Woodward had 430 homes demolished and 650 damaged. Below are the final damage totals to buildings:Ellis County - 52 homes destroyed and 133 damaged.
Woods County - 25 destroyed and 25 damaged.
Lipscomb County, Texas - 83 homes leveled and 116 damaged.
Hempill County, Texas - 36 flattened and 1 damaged. This morning our local radio station was playing interviews with victims so that they are never forgotten. One was with a lady who lost her husband and 5 yr old son, she reported finding their broken bodies and the heartbreak of putting her dead, naked son in the back of a pickup truck going around town collecting the dead. Even now it was heartbreaking to listen to her sorrow. There are also 3 little girls buried in a local cemetery who were never identified. So as we enter tornado season here, we now have dopplar radar and the best early warning systems in the world for which we are thankful. But even as a new resident of the area, it has even been impressed upon me that we should never forget April 9, 1947.