4/9/09

A day for reflection here

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.

14 comments:

Daryl said...

April is a harsh month. The Titanic struck an iceberg late at night on April 14 sank in the early morning of April 15 ... more recently the Waco Tragedy, Oklahoma City Bombing, Columbine School Shooting and VA Tech Massacre ...

Rob Inukshuk said...

What terrible destruction. It's good that people remember both to respect the victims and the power of nature.

A sobering post, but certainly an important piece of history for your part of the world. Now stay safe!

George said...

Tornadoes are unbelievably destructive and capricious. I hope the area never sees another tornado like this one.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, its good to remember how powerful tornadoes can be. My MIL grew up in Clinton and she remembers her parents taking her to Woodward right after the 1947 tornado to check on relatives who lived near there. She says the total destruction she saw still haunts her. The relatives were ok, they lived outside the path of the storm.

antigoni said...

It's terrible when you lose your love ones in this way. Your post is a great tribute.

Denise said...

How awful, how tragic. You hear about the devastation of these tornadoes. I hope no one has to suffer one this big again, as bad as tornadoes are. I thank you for sharing this post, as sad as it was to read. No one should ever be forgotten.

Sassy Britches said...

An excellent post. Tragedies like this should not be forgotten, not just for prevention but also to honor those who lost so much.

pamokc said...

Fascinating statistics for sure. I hope to never ever be in one of those things. It is interesting how they still have names. The Woodward tornado, the Union City tornado, both different than the May 3 tornado, etc. We saw big dually pick-ups rolled up to the size of a suitcase.

And the way the wind is blowing this year .... look out, probably twisters a'brewin' somewhere out there!

Babooshka said...

It must be so strange to live in an area where the weather can be a killer, coming from the UK. Thoughtful post.

Iota said...

Wow, that's an incredible tornado. How sad to hear all those stories, and the saddest of all is the one about those 3 girls who nobody identified.

Kay said...

Oh my goodness! This is so very tragic. The idea of tornados hitting used to really scare me when we lived in the midwest. I hope you've got a cellar or some other safe place to be.

Bogey said...

It's absolutely incredible what the forces of nature can do. The devastation and loss is incredible. It is a great reminder to everybody who has never had the experience to live thru such a tragic event, to know of the tragic losses.

Robin said...

It's frightening what a tornado can do. I grew up in the midwest; Missouri to be exact. Many tornados tore through that sate but I never experienced a single one. They were always just outside my home town.

Winifred said...

That's a great post Sarah, a nice tribute.

I suppose you never do get over a tragedy like that lady's. It's important to remember the past and that although we have wonderful technology we are not invincible!