Great State: Woodward Tornado Anniversary

WOODWARD, OKLAHOMA — On the night of April 15th, 2012 an EF3 tornado ripped through the west side of town, killing six, destroying 100 homes, and damaging 100 others.

A year later, the storm wasn’t so much the topic of conversation as was the response.

You don’t have to travel far from the center of this city of 14-thousand to start hearing stories of April 15th.

At City Hall, Natasha Mueller remembers piling her 3 small children in the car to escape the twister that night.

She came back to a rental house she couldn’t live in any more.

“The walls were mainly standing,” she recalls. “But our roof was completely gone.”

Sterling Parks was with the Woodward Police Department the night of the storm but he lost his home too.

A year later we found him working with the fire department swapping more stories with fellow firefighters.

“When I got back to my house it was still there,” he says. “One wall was completely gone and the roof too.”

The memories are still fresh, he told us.

It doesn’t seem like a year has passed. “It’s gone by fast,” he says.

Woodward’s mayor Roscoe Hill woke up to tragedy last April 15th.

He toured the damage last year, and then with us almost a year later.

“It’s a whole lot different when you know everybody.” he says.

Some scars left by the twister are still there, but Mayor Hill pointed to something else too.

The wind had barely stopped that awful night before people started showing up to help.

Natasha Mueller’s landlord found her family a new house immediately.

She remembers, “I just kind of stood there staring at the mess and the church that had come to help us. They were going in circles around me asking, ‘what should we do with this. Where to we put that?’”

People like Methodist Church Reverend Becky Pierson watched as citizen after citizen came forward with equipment to remove storm debris.

They came with food and water. Everyone we spoke with was still amazed at the overwhelming response to the need for help.

Sterling Parks said, “Before I even got home the next morning I had a bunch of friends and family at my house helping clean up.”

Parks still has a few chores to do before his house is move in ready, but he has a place to live.

They all say it doesn’t seem like a year, but maybe that’s because the people here have been so busy working to make it all better.

The Woodward Ministerial Alliance organized a community wide day of service over the weekend.

A prayer vigil is scheduled for the one year anniversary. A tribute service is scheduled for April 22.