Canton (Other Towns), OK Tornadoes, Mar 1949

Longdale, OK tornado 3-30-1949.jpg




Canton, Okla., March 30 -- (AP) -- Tornadoes struck four times in northwest Oklahoma today, killing two; injuring 25 and causing heavy property damage.
Canton, Longdale and Blackwell were hit. A tornado also dipped down five miles north of Enid, and wrecked a small airport.
The greatest damage was to the first two -- Canton a town of 1,200 and nearby Longdale, 400.
The dead were in Canton and Longdale.
In Canton the storm hit hardest in the northwest residential area and the business district, but the entire town was damaged. Streets were littered with trees, boards, bricks and wrecked autos. At least 16 residences were destroyed and more than 25 others were very heavily damaged. Nearly every business building was knocked down or damaged.
At Longdale the damage was not as great as first feared. Two business buildings were demolished and many houses damaged -- but none were flattened.
The tornado in Blackwell struck the south and southwest residential areas of that city of 12,000.
Six persons were taken to hospitals in Blackwell and two were soon released. None of the others was reported in critical condition.
One large home in Blackwell was unroofed, a half dozen smaller houses were damaged and a 1-story
frame school house flattened. The north bleachers at the high school athletic field were flattened, the dressing room wrecked and football equipment scattered.
With the coming of dawn rescue workers found the damage in Canton and Longdale not as great as first reports had indicated.
The dead were LARRY ARNOLD, 12, Longdale and CHARLES STOWERS, 32, Canton.
Both the dead were killed in their homes. STOWERS' home, at the extreme southwest edge of Canton, was the first struck by the tornado here. The frame structure was crushed.
The ARNOLD boy was sleeping beside his mother in a brick building. He was crushed beneath a pile of bricks when the tornado knocked down the walls.
His mother was injured.
One of the first to hear the tornado approaching Canton was MRS. GRACE SCHISKA, 46, Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. operator who was on duty.
"There was a loud noise like a train, then the room seemed to be bobbing up and down," she said.
She ran to warn her daughter, asleep in another room.
Then the twister struck, damaging the building, the lights went out, and telephone and power lines collapsed.
MRS. SCHISKS'S electric clock stopped at 12:38 a.m. (est).
Telephone service between Canton and other towns was restored at 7 a.m.
Torrential rains followed the tornadoes, with heavy falls of both rain and hail falling over wide areas nearby. In the Fairview area, the rainfall was unofficially reported as high as six inches.
Relief came quickly to Canton from other towns, and by mid-morning local authorities said the problem of housing and feeding the homeless of Canton was well in hand.
A mobile Red Cross canteen was dispatched from Oklahoma City and the Red Cross units at the Enid air base and at El Reno sent help.
The Enid airbase also sent a detachment of military police. Salvation Army trucks arrived and the Watonga unit of the 179th Infantry, Oklahoma National Guard, was sent here.
The first tornado started winding up in the farmlands southwest of here ripping open some isolated ranch buildings. It smashed into Canton, a town of 1,200 at 12:20 a.m. (est) without warning and went right through the home and business sections.
Moments later it crashed into little Longdale, located seven miles northeast of here with 400 people.

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