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Oklahoma tornado: Sixth victim in Woodward identified

The sixth person to die from the Sunday tornado in Woodward has been reported. Oklahoma authorities reported the death of Steve Peil, 63, Monday morning.
By JACLYN COSGROVE Modified: April 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm •  Published: April 16, 2012

“God has been gracious not to let it happen to us, so we wanted to be there for somebody else,” Turner said.

Lauren Turner and her friends are students at Northwestern State University in Alva.

They missed a day of classes to volunteer. A group of Northwestern students plans to come back in the next few weeks.

“When I heard about it, I decided my heart was telling me to come out here to help,” Wallace said. “I felt like this was the place for me to be, instead of classes.”

Acosta and Wallace helped with relief work in Joplin, Mo., after the EF5 tornado struck in May.

Monday, they were sorting through Peil's and the Hobbie families' belongings. It wasn't easy to find toys that likely used to belong to the two girls who died at the Hide-A-Way Mobile Home Park.

“It really hurts to think the girls were out here,” Acosta said.

The group was one of several throughout Woodward helping residents affected by the tornado.

Huddled in tub

Volunteers from Christian Disaster Relief showed up in Curt and Andra Raymer's yard early Monday, clearing debris for the family.

The Raymers huddled in their bathtub early Sunday as the tornado ripped through their home, tearing all of the roof off, except for the ceiling above the bathroom where they were.

Andra Raymer said she didn't know the people in her yard, but she appreciated their kindness. Christian Disaster Relief is a public service organization of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.

Arden Wiebe, a Christian Disaster Relief volunteer from Texoma, said there's nothing better than helping others.

“I just enjoy helping people, trying to help somebody out a bit,” he said.

Along with faith groups, local businesses and national corporations are helping with the relief effort.

Doug Hurley, who has worked at Cudd Energy Services for 22 years, was helping to cook hamburgers and hot dogs for volunteers and families Monday.

Hurley, a wireline supervisor, said, “We're just helping out. That's what it's all about.”

‘Didn't believe it'

When Rachael Diercks, 13, heard Sunday night that the tornado had hit her Nana's neighborhood, she came barefoot with her father and sister in hopes to checking to see if Nana was OK.

“I didn't believe it at first,” Rachael said.

Rachael's Nana is actually the woman who watched over her from the time she was 6 weeks old until she was 10.

Debbie Whisennand and Rachael aren't related by blood but rather through the bond they share from the years of memories.

Monday afternoon, Rachael and other girls from the community stood in front of Whisennand's destroyed house, wearing leather gloves, ready to help with the cleanup.

Debbie Whisennand and her husband, Tom, got a call from their son, Gerald, about 10 minutes before the tornado hit.

They went inside their storm shelter, covered themselves with blankets and fell asleep.

They woke up to a first responder knocking on their storm cellar.

As they came out of their cellar, Debbie Whisennand looked to her left and pointed out to her husband that their shed was gone. She hadn't yet looked right and realized that her house was gone, too.

“Then I turned, and it was just shocking,” she said.

“By then, it was raining, and people were yelling and looking for family — it was just chaos.”


Staff Writer Bryan Dean has disabled the comments for this article.

The Woodward Salvation Army is running out of funds to help tornado victims, Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward emergency management director, said Monday morning.

How to help

Call 1-800-sal-army or visit and click "disaster" link.


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