The Legacy of May 11, 1970 - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


The Legacy of May 11, 1970

"A massive storm has just struck downtown Lubbock. All persons take cover!" said a radio announcer. The news clip was from a documentary about the 1970 Lubbock tornado. "The President declares Lubbock a major disaster area," read the newscaster.

"Actually we didn't think there was a storm happening," said Texas Tech Professor Larry Tanner. A structural engineer and architect, he studies the devastation of massive storms. A career perpetually influenced on May 11, 1970. "In fact, I was working downtown, and the building I was working at was totally destroyed," he said.

The tornados cut a swath more than 8 miles long, nearly a mile and a half wide. The death toll would reach 26, approximately 500 were injured. "What did it sound like when it hit?" asked a reporter. "Well, it was a woosh, woosh," said a victim.

"Every storm has it's own story," said Professor Tanner. It's been 33 years since he witnessed the story of the Lubbock tornado. And ever since, he's been trying to write happier endings. "It's always influenced my designs, to make buildings more wind resistant," he said. "You can take a storm and say, 'Well, we only had two lives lost as opposed to say Oklahoma City, where they had 44 lives lost. Both of them are disastrous," said Tanner.

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