Higgins, TX Leedey, Arnett, Gage, OK Tornado, May 1947

Tornado near Higgins Texas Higgins circa 1930

TORNADO HITS LEEDEY, OKLA., 6 PERSONS REPORTED KILLED.

TELEPHONE OPERATOR DECLARES TOWN OF 600 "WAS THREE-QUARTERS DESTROYED" AND THAT OTHERS MAY BE DEAD -- SAYS DOCTORS AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES ARE NEEDED -- TWISTER STRIKES NEAR OTHER OKLAHOMA TOWNS AND HIGGINS, TEX.

Leedey, Okla., May 31. -- (AP) -- A savage tornado ripped into this northwestern Oklahoma town of 600 tonight and JACK SAPP, telephone operator said "Leedey was three quarters destroyed."
SAPP, talking over a makeshift circuit set up outside the town, said a warning sounded over a fire siren and a loudspeaker before the storm struck apparently had held down loss of life.
"We already have found six bodies," SAPP declared, adding:
"We don't know how many more were killed or hurt, but we believe the loss of life was small because we cleared the people off the streets before the tornado hit."
Asks Aid Be Sent.
"We need ambulances and doctors and medical supplies as fast as we can get them, though, and as much other help as we can get."
The twister tore into Oklahoma from Higgins, Tex., and for a time its route followed that of a deadly tornado April 9 which killed nearly 200 persons in Oklahoma and Texas.
The new storm struck near Arnett, Okla., and Gage, Okla., and then veered south suddenly to rip into Leedey from the north.
At Higgins, where the new tornado formed today, the April 9 twister killed 34, injured 300 and virtually leveled the town of 750 population.
Then the April 9 tornado went north and tore Woodward, Okla., apart, killing 102 and leveling the town.
Today's storm, however, instead of swinging north toward already stricken Woodward, went south to hit Leedey, well out of the path of the April 9 tornado.
SAPP gave the following list of dead, adding he did not know the ages of the persons but that all were from Leedey:
D. B. ABBOTT.
A. A. BUTLER.
MR. and MRS. J. A. ALBRITTON.
MR. KITCHEN (first name unknown).
An Unidentified Woman.
SAPP said the dead were in a temporary morgue at the Leedey school house.
Injured Taken To Church.
Injured, he said, were being taken to the basement of the Methodist church.
The city was entirely without lights or power and rescue work was hampered.
E. E. McFARLAND, Leedey automobile dealer, who joined SAPP on the improvised telephone circuit said about 15 or 20 persons were injured.
"I saw the cloud approaching," McFARLAND said, "and took one of my employes home and then got my family down in the cellar."
"The storm just damaged a corner of my house and all my family is safe."
McFARLAND confirmed SAPP'S estimate that about three-fourths of Leedey was levelled by the tornado.
SAPP gave the following graphic description of the way the tornado ripped into Leedey.
"I was at work in the telephone office when the storm formed," SAPP said.
"I could see it coming about 45 minutes before it hit."
"I operate the fire siren from the telephone office and I sounded that and also turned on a loudspeaker system and warned people."
People Left Streets.
"By the time the storm hit I think just about everyone was off the streets and headed for storm cellars."
"That probably kept a lot of people from getting killed or hurt."
High winds sent residents of Blair, Okla., near Leedey, scurrying for storm cellars about the time the twister hit here.
Eight houses were reported damaged by the high winds at Blair, but there apparently was no loss of life and no one was injured.
At Altus, Okla., also near Leedey storm clouds and high winds kept citizens jittery for more than two hours while they watched the black formations dip repeatedly before moving out.
There was no damage reported at Altus.
A. W. BEUMER, a farmer living southeast of Shattuck, north of Leedey, was taken to a hospital at Shattuck for treatment after high winds smashed his home. His condition had not been determined.
CLOUD BOWLES, a farmer living near BEUMER and his wife and daughter, FRANCES, warned by their neighbors the storm was moving in their direction, got into the family car and raced two miles away.
The storm leveled the BOWLES farm home, barns and outbuildings.

Higgins, Tex., May 31. -- (AP) -- A tornado which swept across Higgins today along the path of the deadly storm that visited a half dozen Texas panhandle towns and western Oklahoma in April, was too high to cause much damage. No injuries were reported.
A telephone operator at Higgins, MRS. PEGGY GRAY, said that the tornado formed south of town and swooped across the southern portion of Higgins, a part which had not been rebuilt since its April devastation.
The time was approximately 6:15 p.m.
MRS. GRAY said the tornado was high enough to make it weak on the ground. It stirred up dust and loose boards and knocked window lights out of a house two miles away.

Joplin Globe Missouri 1947-06-01