Pharos-Tribune

Multimedia

April 17, 2012

Tales of survival from Woodward's deadly tornado

WOODWARD, Okla. — Bill Stanley was sound asleep shortly after midnight Sunday when he suddenly found himself trapped in bed by a demolished roof from a thundering tornado.

"I woke up with loose insulation on my face, and rain falling on me," said Stanley. "At first I thought it was just a surreal dream."

It wasn't and Stanley lived to tell about the real-life twister that killed six, injured two-dozen and destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses in this rural Oklahoma town.

Stanley's was one of several tales of survival that emerged from the twister that struck at 12:18 a.m. Sunday with only three minutes warning from the town's siren warning system.

None was more compelling than the story of Wilma Lake Nelson, 87, who also survived a 1947 tornado that killed 116 people here and ranks as the deadliest in Oklahoma history.

Nelson, a live-alone widow, said she heard about Sunday's tornado on the weather radio next to her bed, and hunkered down in a small closet in her bedroom.

"I had just got the door shut when I heard it," she told Oklahoma City News 9 TV station. "It sounded like an explosion. I guess that's when my roof went off."

She said a piece of sheet rock from the closet's ceiling hit her on the head, causing her to start "shaking like a leaf" before discovering she was okay. Her home, however, was destroyed.

Sixty-five years earlier, Nelson, then 23 years old, survived the town's historic tornado by hiding beneath a dining room table. That twister also demolished her then home.

"It is a miracle she's alive," said Robin Gregory, Nelson's daughter. "Thank God for that."

Nelson, who described herself as a "tough old coot," said she had no worldly explanation for surviving two deadly tornadoes 65 years apart.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Multimedia
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Does Indiana need a statewide water management plan and an administrator to implement it?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.