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Tornado survivor uses family’s story to inspire others

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:48 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - At the dedication ceremony for the Lubbock Tornado Memorial, City leaders recognized the victims and handed out carnations to their families.

Several of their family members expressed their gratitude for the tribute.

For one survivor, it was a day to reflect on the lessons learned in the aftermath.

“It’s great that the City of Lubbock is recognizing the people that lost their lives in the tornado and I think it’s, I think it’s good that the city is showing that it can come together, rebuild and overcome a disaster,” survivor Mike Garrett said.

Garrett’s father, Joseph Glenn Garrett, was one of the 26 people who died in Lubbock on May 11, 1970.

The tornado also killed his aunt, uncle and two cousins. When disaster struck, Garrett was almost 10 years old. He and his siblings hid with their mother in the hallway of their home until it blew away and they woke up in a field.

“We were all together. My mom was paralyzed from the waist down. She was left to raise us three kids by herself,” Garrett said.

Garrett says he calls her the final victim of the tornado, after it left her struggling with her health until her death in 2016.

“One of the positive things that’s come from the tornado is she gave us, all of us kids, the ability to never give up. Through example, she showed us to never give up,” Garrett said.

At the age of 38, he became a shop teacher and used her story to inspire others.

“And I believe that God had in plan for her story to be told to many kids around because I used her story many times for kids that were about to give up,” Garrett said.

Garrett says his family is a testament to how Lubbock citizens rose from the tragedy to help their neighbors rebuild.

“There’s a lot of businesses that came together and helped build us a house that my mom could raise us kids in. This community’s been great to our family, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Garrett said.

Another survivor, Roberto Chadis, lost his grandmother in the tornado. He said he remembers that day like it was yesterday, but after every tragedy there’s always tomorrow.

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