Woodward County

Tornado of April 9, 1947

Relief Agencies Fix Woodward Fatalities at 92

Woodward residents killed by the tornado, April 9, 1947, totaled 92 as compiled by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, state highway patrol:

Alfred Atwell

Tom Baker

Darlene Beaseley

James Behler

Roy Brumley

Johnny Gottschalk Catlett

Mrs. Raymond Catlett

D. S. Chance

Betty Cooley

Lorenzo Coombes

Mrs. Olin Croft

Mrs. Bill Crowl

Bill Crowl

Carl Cunningham, Jr.

Paula Gayle Damon

Fred Dart

Mrs. Lavina Davis

Earnest Gaylord Davidson

Roy Dean Dougherty

Robert Harrison Duke

Eldeen Marie Fiel

Eldon Bert Fiel

Roberta Jean Fiel

Mrs. L. D. Fiskin

Wilton Owen Grayson

Beryl Grimm

Mrs. John Gieswein

Clyde Glass

Mrs. C. N. Godd

Ann Hagerman

John Hagerman

Henry Harper, Jr.

Roy Lee Harper

Monty Lawrence Harper

Lou Ellen Harper

Mary Hawk

Cliff Hayes

Georgia Mae Hingston

Sue Ann Houlette

Jimmie Lee Hutchinson

Olan Hutchinson

Treanadale Holster

Georgia Irwin

Mrs. Buck Irvin

Delores Alice Johnston

G. A. Jordan

Mrs. Mary Eliza (Dollie) Kezer

Louis Knight

Mrs. Joe Kollar

Catherine Kreger

Mrs. Glendora Kreger

Mrs. Ike Lafon

Mrs. Armanda Laver

Elizabeth Ann Little

Delmer Lee Long

Albert Lukes

Patsy Lukes

George Lucas

Mrs. Eva Marie Main

Mrs. Marion Marston

Merritt Richard M'Leran

Charles Morgan

Mrs. Damon Morrison

Fred Morrow

R. T. Myers

Thomas Noble Mitch

Mrs. Flora Pierson

Mrs. Pauline Pollard

Earle Pollard

Ruth Porter

Dottie Mae Rabe

Mrs. Bertha Reed

Peter William Reith

Albert N. Rosenbrook

Clarence P. Rosendale

Mrs. Bessie Scharnhorst

Ruby Carol Scharnhorst

Leon Gene Schneider

Al M. Schutt

Beulah Mae Shidler

Mrs. C. L. Sparks

Mrs. Cora Steed

Dean Story

E. V. Walker

A. J. Warringer

Carol Diann Wingert

Sam Wood

unidentified child*

unidentified baby**

unidentified child*



* Armstrong Funeral Home
** Chenoweth Funeral Home


Reported Missing by the highway patrol: William Starn (50) Milton Owen and Joan J. Croft (4 1/2)
On April 9, 1947 a giant tornado ripped through the town of Woodward. It traveled on the ground for 221 miles at a speed of 46 miles per hour, smashing, without warning, everything in its path. It has been described as one of the 10 most destructive tornadoes of all time, killing 185 people and injuring 720. Joan Gay's mother was killed by the giant storm, and her father, H.O. Croft, was critically injured. He was transferred to an Oklahoma City hospital. Joan Gay, with a splinter through her leg, and her sister, were found to have less life-threatening injuries than others seeking care, and were ushered to the hospital basement to wait as more critical injuries were treated. Her sister, four years older, reported that two men dressed in khaki work clothes came into the basement and carried Joan Gay away. Apparently due to the turmoil of the night, no one paid any attention to the little girl's protests. For a time it was thought perhaps the child was taken elsewhere for medical treatment. But as days passed following the disaster and damage was assessed and residents accounted for, Joan Gay did not surface on hospital lists or with any family members. The incident received nationwide attention, but Joan Gay never was found.
(Source: Daily Oklahoman April 18, 1947 Page 4)


200 Blocks Of Rubble: Awful Mess
By Imogene Patrick (Daily Oklahoman Staff Writter)

Woodward, April 25---The bathtub came through in good shape--except its legs were gone. So Mrs. Henry Skinner Friday searched through the mass of splintered lumber that April 9 was her eight-room, two-story house on Woodward's north side. The missing bathtub legs might be there and she would have one more item for "the house we are going to build if we ever get this mess cleaned up." The Skinners didn't save much. There was a mattress and a floor furnace that might be usable. An two quarts of milk stood upright and intact on the front stoop after the house was flattened. But they are not complaining, Mr. and Mrs. Skinner, (he drives a truck for a laundry company) and four children, ages 5 to 10, were unharmed. The fifth child, 3-year old Rita May, is in Crippled Children's hospital in Oklahoma City with a broken leg.

Like scores of other tornado victims, their chief concern now is to rebuild; to start all over again. You find few persons here who are discouraged. The survivors are all too deeply grateful for being alive. The Skinners can finance the new home and furnishings. But withinout assistance, it will be months before they can clean up the grounds, haul away debris, and get to the point where construction could be started. All residents of their block are in the same situation. And if you multiply this block by some 200 others razed by the storm you get an idea of the size of Woodward's clean up problem. Wilson Riley, highschool principal and chairman of the emergency salvage committee, said the salvage work was in its eight day Friday and "I don't think it's even started yet." To complete the job, he thinks the city will have to spend an approximate $60,000. A part of the money being raised in the Woodward relief drive (goal: $500,000) would go for this urgent need. Bulk of the work could be accomplished in 25 days, with 31 truck drivers, eight foremen, and 150 laborers on the job. Riley believes. Allowing $260 per day for maintenance of equipment (cost of repairing flat tires per day has averaged $25), he figures daily expense would run close to $1,500.

The task is complicated by (1) the dire shortage of common lagor and (2) difficulty in contacting property owners for permission to go upon their property. Many families who fled the disaster scene have not returned. During the days immediately following the tornado, as many as 275 volunteer laborers reported for work. Their ranks have dwindled to an average of 100. An Friday, 75 of these were members of the Mennonite religious sect who offered their services and refushed compensation. They cam from Fairview, Orienta, and Cheyenne Vally, Okla., and Greensburg, Copeland, Galva, McPherson, Canton, and Montesuma, Kan. Most of the Woodward volunteers have had to return to their jobs. The highway department is still at work, furnishing its own labor, trucks, and a crane with clam-shell attached. But highway department crews cannot go upon private property. Thier work is confined to hauling trash from street sides. Other equipment has been furnished by the war assets administration, Woodward must maintain and man these vehicles. In use now, from WAA, are 24 cargo trucks, seven dump trucks, two passenger buses, one bulldozer, and hand tools ranging from crosscut saws to pitchforks. WAA also is shipping to Woodward (and city pays freight on there items), five truck tractors, five trailers, one street sweeper, and two month patrol graders.

Riley also pointed to the tremendous damage done to the city's streets and roads by the heavy rains which came on the heels of the storm. He estimated repairs to roads alone would cost $25,000. A number of storm-evicted families can take care of their own salvage problem, Riley pointed out. The city is mainly interested in helping the vast majority of dislocated persons of moderate means to get a fresh start; and to clear city property. Streets have been cleaned, but the rubbish is still there. It's just pushed aside. While Riley talked at community building headquarters, he was interupted by a steady stream of property owners with requests for assistance. "I want somebody to pile up a lot of lumber," said one elderly man. And another, "I need somebody to pull up some stumps, I;m going to go ahead and clean the place out as best I can. It may take weeks and it may take months." The the woman who had just purchased material for new drapes. Her house had to be rebuilt from the ground up, but, in the meantime, she said she had to keep busy.
Source: Daily Oklahoman April 26, 1947 Pages 15 and 16.

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