Survivor recalls lives, homes destroyed by May 1970 tornado

1970 Tornado survivor recalls destruction ahead of memorial park

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Design plans for the new Lubbock Tornado Memorial Gateway Park, to be built at Glenna Goodacre Boulevard and Avenue Q, were revealed at a reception on Thursday.

Irasema Velasquez survived the day the storm that took the lives of 26 people and left 9,000 homes destroyed.

“I learned so much. First of all, to appreciate life," she said.

Irasema lived in one of the homes that was in the tornado’s path, a path that left a swath of destruction covering eight and a half miles.

“We were all in different parts of the house. We all felt that something was about to happen. We all ran to the hall.”

She was inside the house as a teenager with her six siblings, her mother and grandmother.

“And as soon as we got there, the windows popped and walls knocked us down on the floor, so we were we in a cave of lumber.”

She said Lubbock had the same communal spirit back then as it does today.

Lubbock woman remembers 1970 tornado

“Everyone stepped up to make a difference… at whatever level they were able to. Volunteers proceeded to unload every household furniture item that we needed to make. I remember distinctly thinking ‘Who are these people? We don’t even know these people.’"

She said the memorial, which will resemble a map of the tornado’s path, will be perfect way to remember all of the lives that were lost and educate those who walk through it.

“We just need to help each other and be united.”

The lead gift of one million dollars was donated by Lubbock National Bank. Construction is set to begin next month and it will be finished right before the tornado’s 49th anniversary next May.

For more information about the Tornado Memorial Gateway Park visit www.downtownlbk.us/tornado-memorial

There, you can find ways to make your mark in the park by purchasing a wall, a fountain, a block, and more.

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