Various Towns, OK Tornadoes Lash State, May 1960



Wilburton (AP) -- Rescue workers today dug through muddy rain soaked debris of more than half a dozen eastern Oklahoma towns lashed by tornadoes which killed at least 26 persons and injured another 200 or more.
Latest victim was MRS. WINNIE WIRTH, 85, who was injured in the tornado at Hoffman and died today in a Henryetta hospital.
An 11th victim of the twister which struck this college town Thursday night died today in University Hospital at Oklahoma. An estimated 75 were injured.
The reported toll in the other tornadoes was five dead and 16 injured in the Moffet-Roland area next to the Arkansas border near Fort Smith, three killed and six hurt near Keota, two killed and possibly 7 hurt at Sapulpa, two deaths in rural areas near Sallisaw and Checotah, two dead and 12 injured near Bristow, and 13 hurt in the Hoffman community of Henryetta.
Of the 11 persons killed in Wilburton Thursday night, 5 died and scores were injured in the little Calvary Baptist Church. Some 57 members had gathered there for a church supper honoring students at Eastern A. & M. College here.
Rescue officials feared more dead and injured would be found today since darkness, rain and lack of power and communications hampered search efforts during the night and early morning.
Eighteen blocks of the downtown and eastside residential areas were smashed and battered. Most of the brick and masonry building stood, but minus glass and store fronts.
The college, on the west side of town, escaped damage.
DR. G. R. BOOTH said he saw the twister form in the valley below this county seat college town of 1,900.
"It came up over the hill then hit the ground and took dead aim at the town," he said.
The dead at Wilburton were identified as:
MRS. MAGGIE BACK, about 65.
JAMES R. PARKS, about 60.
MRS. JAMES R. BRADY, about 65.
MIKE BRADY, about 45, her son.
TRUMAN CLARK, about 45.
GORDON MOTE, about 50.
MRS. BESSIE McGHEE, age unknown, mother of JIMMY RAY ALLEN.
ALLEN, 22, Wilburton, died in University Hospital at Oklahoma City of injuries received in the twister.
Biggest town hit by the twisters was Sapulpa, an industrial city of 15,000 just southwest of Tulsa.
Killed there were:
BIRMINGHAM'S stepson HENRY BRUNER, 21, said he heard a report of a tornado.
"I went to the back of the place, where we have a heavy fan, and the fan just took off." he said. "It lasted about three minutes but it seemed like an eternity."
He said he told his mother, "Pray to God and hang on."
The stepfather, who had been standing outside, was found dead beneath a pile of bricks.
Hardest hit area in Sapulpa was the northwest portion, which is occupied mostly by Negroes. More than 30 homes were destroyed or damaged.
The most concentrated casualty list came from the rural area near Roland. Killed when a tornado struck their farm home were:
MRS. WILLIAM McGUIRE and three of her children, a son and two daughters.
Six other McGUIRE children were hospitalized with injuries at a Fort Smith hospital. The husband and father was working in Fort Smith at the time, officers said.
LEAMON LEE BOWREN, 33, of West Memphis, Ark., was killed near Moffett. His truck was picked up by a twister along U.S. highway 64 and slammed to the earth.
Killed at Keota were B. WOODS, WILLIS CHUBBEE and MRS. LUCILLE HAYES. Several homes were demolished.
MRS. ELSIE DUTY was killed and her husband and son injured when a tornado destroyed their rural home nine miles north of Sallisaw near the Arkansas border.
JO NELL SNEED was killed what a twister ripped through the little community of Central High 8 miles west of Checotah.
Killed south of Bristow were LEWIS BLAND and an unidentified nephew. Twelve persons were injured there.
Twenty or more tornadoes either touched the ground or were sighted over populated areas Thursday as Oklahomans spent a second straight night with one eye cocked on the skies and the other on the storm cellar.
A series of tornadoes Wednesday night caused 15 injuries and widespread damage but no deaths.
Thursday night was Oklahoma's worst since April, 1955, when a tornado claimed more than 20 lives at Blackwell.
The torrential rains which accompanied the thunderstorms and followed the tornadoes created flash flooding.
Earlier in the evening four separate tornadoes were spotted over Tulsa. Only one touched ground, at 31st St. and Yale Ave., and apparently did little or no damage.
One building southwest of Tulsa had its roof blown off but generally damage inside the city was slight, and chiefly from flash floods.
Inside the city of Tulsa the Dawson area was hardest hit by high water.
The RAY EPPERSON family called for a boat when water crept up on their house and reached a depth of 6 inches inside the home.
Other communities where damage from twisters was reported included McAlester, Depew, Wallville, Tecumseh, Prague, Afton and Wagoner.

The Ada Evening News Oklahoma 1960-05-06