87-year-old recounts surviving two devastating Woodward tornadoes

Woman survived April 15 storm and deadly 1947 tornado
BY KATIE FRETLAND, ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: April 21, 2012

Woman was home alone both times

Nelson, the youngest of nine, grew up in Laverne. She could not afford college, so she went to work at the county treasurer's office. She moved to Woodward to work as a bookkeeper, and she met her husband there.

On the night of the 1947 storm, she was 23 years old and living on Oak Avenue in a duplex.

Her roommate was gone, and she was reading in bed. She could see a menacing cloud in the west, and she worried about a possible hailstorm.

“Back then, we did not have communications,” she said. “We didn't even know it was coming.”

It struck Woodward at 8:42 p.m. and destroyed more than 100 city blocks and more than 1,000 homes and businesses, according the National Weather Service.

The tornado touched down near Canadian, Texas, traveled for 100 miles, and was nearly two miles wide.

In addition to the deaths in Oklahoma, it also killed 69 in Texas.

Last week's tornado was deadly, killing six in Woodward.

Nelson lost her home, where she kept flower beds of mums, peonies, petunias and hydrangeas. She said her back hurts, but she is “pretty good for the shape I'm in.” She recovered all her photo albums, and Sugar survived.

Nelson's advice: “Get you a weather radio, because it saved my life.”

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