Wichita Falls officials look back on emergency situations

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita Falls is no stranger to emergency situations.

An F-4 tornado ripped through town on April 10, 1979 on what is now known as Terrible Tuesday, claiming 42 lives in Wichita County.

In 2015, restrictions were finally lifted by local government signaling the end of an over four year long drought.

And District Five City Councilor Steve Jackson has seen it all.

“I’ve lived here and gone through both of them, I even was just two years old when the one in ’64 come through on the north side of town, but we just got to pull together as a community,” Jackson said.

Although city officials may have experienced emergencies in the past, the unknown is what makes this situation so difficult.

“The rain saved us and you know, all those concerns vanished immediately, this one is different, this one is insidious, this one is invisible,” district one city councilor Michael Smith said.

“It’s tough, it’s kind of a different cat in the sense that we’re just sitting and waiting for numbers to come back and it’s not something that’s in control,” Mayor Stephen Santellana said. “It’s outside your control as we’re testing people, we’re just waiting and as they come in we’re just disseminating the information as fast as possible.”

Cities have plans in place on how to respond to something like Terrible Tuesday, but it may not be of much help during this outbreak.

“If you look at our emergency management plan, it doesn’t really have national wide pandemic on there, you know, although we’re prepared for that pandemic, you know, tornadoes are easy, floods are easy, they say droughts are easy in a sense that you know it’s coming and you know the duration of it,” Santellana said.

Wichita Falls rebuilt, Wichita Falls saw rain again, there is always light at the end of the tunnel when the community binds together in tough times.

“I keep saying we’re the city that faith rebuilt and it’s going to do it again. The tornado wiped out over half of this town, I lost an uncle during it and had another aunt and uncle that lost everything they had, and we just got to pull together,” Jackson said.

Remembering the tough times of the past, and how Wichita Falls recovered, together.

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