Survivors remember ’79 tornado 40 years later

Local News

As 40 years have passed from the howling winds and destruction, folks remember the terror, the dozens of lives lost, and the devastation that came on April 10, 1979.

About 6 p.m. will signify exactly 40 years since the 1.5 mile-wide tornadoes that hit Wichita Falls was on the ground.

That tornado went through the city and 20,000 people were left homeless.

Forty years later, survivors certainly do remember.

Laura Liles was just 6-years-old when the tornado struck her home in Sunvalley. They lost everything but there is one thing she will never forget.

“The scream that came out of my mother’s mouth,” Liles said. “We had to completely start over, there is nothing like having your house almost paid for then having it completely wiped out.”

KLUR Radio Broadcaster Jim Russell also lived through the ’79 tornado.

He took cover under a car and said once the coast was clear his first priority was keeping the community informed.

“I knew we needed to get on the air right away, we’re public servants after all so we needed to get the word out,” Russell said.

While many pray that Wichita Falls never sees another day like April 10, 1979, many agree that disaster brought the community together.

“Everybody helped everybody else put their lives back together, we all came together, it was unity, we survived,” Liles said.

“We have a lot to be proud of here in Wichita Falls Texas, but our faith, you can’t beat it,” Russell said.

Both Liles and Russell agree that experience was a teachable moment of how Texomans can lean on each other in times of distress.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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