National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Here is one account written by Russ Pettit:

It was a typical day in Lubbock; I had been home from the university for a couple of hours and my wife, Mary, had returned from her banking job. We cooked dinner in our one-bedroom apartment located in the 2200 block of 5th Street in Lubbock. Our upstairs apartment had 3 windows all facing to the South. The wind was blowing and there was lightning strikes in the distance. I had the living area window open to get some of the breeze in. We had just started watching a TV program at 9 pm when suddenly the air became quiet; you could hear a needle drop. About 9:09 pm the clatter began; I assured my wife it was not a tornado as I grew up in Northern Kansas and had seen tornados from a distance but had never been in one.

In less than a minute, the boards started coming through our ceiling and we sought refuge in the bathtub with some blankets for protection from above. Seems like it was all over as quickly as it had started. I remember getting out of the bathtub and all was dark. Water was streaming in through the ceiling where the lumber had become imbedded. I quickly grabbed a 5-gal cooler and filled it with water from the tap. My wife and I then grabbed all the cooking pans we could find and put them under the leaks to try to keep the carpet dry.

We walked down the stairway to see what damage was done. Younger folks were milling about; the water was quite deep. A roof had blown from the apartment to the West and covered our swimming pool. I walked into the parking lot and found the roof of my new GTO to be nearly missing; guess some board had taken it off. My old 54 Chevy had 4 flat tires and the windows had been "sucked" out. We went back upstairs into the apartment and moved furniture so it wouldn’t get wet.

The next few days were chaotic. We had no electricity, no potable water and the debris was all over the place. We cooked using a 2-burner Coleman stove and used paper ware. An ice chest held our food and all streets were barricaded to minimize looting, etc. Seems like the cleanup began immediately. The city removed the demolished cars and houses as fast as they could. We were able to get to a telephone and call our families and friends to let them know we were all right.

The next morning we walked through the neighborhood to see the damage. It was horrendous to say the least. Our apartment was repaired and we continued to live at this location until the end of the school year. I hope and pray that I never experience this again.