Pryor, OK Tornado Destruction, Apr 1942 - Pryor Starts Digging Out
PRYOR STARTS DIGGING OUT OF RUINS LEFT IN TORNADO PATH.
DEATH TOLL REACHES 70 AND IS STILL RISING AS RUINS SEARCHED.
Relief Workers Seek Through Countryside For More Dead and Injured; Relief Rushed In By Many Agencies; Twister Swept Down Main Street of War Boom Community.
Pryor, Okla., April 28 -- (AP) -- This war boom town today dug out of the ruins of an angry tornado that ripped down Main street, leaving $2,000,000 in property damage, 70 known dead and an estimate by the state highway patrol that the toll would reach 100 in this area.
An unofficial check of mortuaries in the storm area showed 70 known dead, and the highway patrol reported searchers still were digging through the rubble that once was Main street. Relief workers also hunted through farming areas devastated by the tornado.
The list of hospitalized injured ran between 150 and 300, the patrol said, and scores more were given only first aid treatment.
Mayor THOMAS J. HARRISON estimated the property damage would be at least $2,000,000 here.
"We are going to start rebuilding right now," he said. "We believe we can get priorities for the materials because we are in a defense area."
Martial Law Prevails.
This town of 5,000 to 6,000, next door to the multi-million dollar Oklahoma Ordnance Works, was ordered under martial law, and Governor LEON C. PHILLIPS placed Safety Commissioner WALTER R. JOHNSON in command of state relief agencies.
The martial law was announced by and is being enforced by the state highway patrol under JOHNSON, the state's national guard having been mustered into the army. The booming town has no sheriff or city marshall force sufficient to cope with such an emergency.
Workers Rush To Aid.
Hundreds of workers and machinery from the ordnance works, which escaped serious damage, were rushed to the scene. Giant bulldozers and cranes shoveled through the wreckage in search of victims.
The tornado struck yesterday at 4:45 p.m. (Central War Time).
Most of the six block business district on Main street was reduced to rubble.
Early this morning, a central relief agency was established in the Community house under the direction of Col. R. H. CAMERON of the ordnance works. Street patrols were organized to prevent looting, but three arrests were reported.
Area Hospitals Crowded.
The more seriously injured were hospitalized in nearby towns. The community house, two churches and the Whitaker state orphanage were being used for first aid and emergency stations. Pryor's two hospitals were damaged and evacuated.
Wounded overflowed hospitals at Vinita, Claremore, Tulsa and other towns.
The Red Cross sent eight disaster workers from St. Louis with medical and other supplies.