Woodward, Okla. —
Before she took a week-long history class one summer, Lakin Ragins had never heard of the 1947 Woodward Tornado.
Now the Northwest Oklahoma native, who grew up and still lives in the Burlington area, is putting together a book about the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma's history.
"I took Dr. Fisher's (Deena) Northwest Oklahoma history class that she has in the summer and there was a tornado panel with survivors telling their stories," Ragins said. "Until then I thought the 1999 tornado (that hit the Oklahoma City area and other communities) was the worst that ever happened.
"I was kind of mad that I didn't know about the (Woodward) tornado."
Ragins then began researching the tornado online but wasn't able to find a complete book about it. There were plenty of articles and statistics, but not a book that "gets all the stories together,” she said.
Ragins wants to do that with her planned book.
"It's something I thought should be done," Ragins said. "It's still the deadliest tornado in Oklahoma and the 6th deadliest nationally.
"I want to connect out there with people that don't know about the tornado."
The tornado on April 9, 1947 cut a 221-mile path of destruction from the Texas Panhandle into Kansas. In Woodward alone, 107 people died and thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed and damaged. The tornado also caused 6 deaths in Ellis County and destroyed 255 buildings.
Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum Director Rob Roberson is assisting Ragins in gathering information and setting up interviews. Ragins is wanting information not just from Woodward but also residents from other affected communities.
Ragins said she started interviewing survivors in December and has met with 6 so far.
She plans to visit with as many people as possible and get as many stories as she can.
"I want it be a complete book," she said. "I want to get all the stories. Everyone's story is different."
Note: You can get in contact with Ragins through Rob Roberson at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum, 580-256-6136 or you can contact her by email - firstname.lastname@example.org.