The national news today is full of headlines about the deadly tornado that struck the small town of Woodward, Oklahoma over night.
The headlines about Woodward hit us hard.
The same town was hit by a tornado in April 1947. Meda was a few months old. Meda and her mom were in the house when the twister hit. The family’s home was destroyed, but her mother managed to dig out and they escaped relatively unharmed.
Last year on this same day, I wrote:
April is not a good month in Oklahoma, unless you’re a storm chaser.
The news today is full of stories about the latest string of deadly tornadoes that swept through Oklahoma and on to Arkansas.
These are close to home for Meda. As an infant, she survived one of Oklahoma’s deadliest tornadoes in the state’s history. We usually pause on the anniversary to reflect on the event. This year, we forgot.
What still ranks as the deadliest tornado to ever hit the State of Oklahoma, and one of the worst in U.S. history, swept up from Texas on the evening of April 9, 1947, striking the town of Woodward at 8:42 p.m. with the power of an F5 storm. At least 107 people were killed and nearly another 1,000 injured in Woodward alone. Over 100 city blocks, and more than 1,000 homes and businesses in the city were destroyed.
Meda was invited to lecture at the University of Oklahoma in 2009, and we took the opportunity to drive to Woodward. It was the first time Meda had been back since her family moved away following the tornado. The old Main Street was still relatively intact, although the city is now centered a short distance away in a newer area. We stayed over night, and wandered around a bit, trying to get a sense of what it might have been like when that big twister hit.
Here’s a little video from our visit to Woodward, for what it’s worth. With all that empty country surrounding the city in every direction, how is it that the storms hit where people are living and working?