LUBBOCK, Texas — Hundreds of people gathered at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center to celebrate the completion of the new Lubbock tornado memorial located at Glenna Acre and Avenue Q.
The $4.7 million project was planned to be finished May 11, 2020, but the pandemic delayed some of the plans. This year marks the 51st anniversary of the day two tornados hit the City of Lubbock.
“Sadly, we lost 26 of our beloved fellow Lubbock citizens to the tornado,” said Dr. Mont Monroe, “It is for them and for their family that we are assembled here today to dedicate this memorial.”
Among the hundreds of faces, Patricia Mora arrived with a portrait of her and her two sisters as children who were all involved in the tornado.
“We were hurting, but we survived it,” said Mora, “but my other sister, she did not.”
Mora said her 8-year-old sister Angela Maria Mora was found on top of her sister Kathy Mora who was 2 years old at the time.
“My sister wasn’t just a person–she was a hero,” said Mora. “We waited 51 years for this dedication, and we are all so excited to see the dedication, to see her name up on the wall.”
Mora said the loss of her sister and the loss of a knee in the tornado is a constant reminder of what happened on that day.
“I think about it every morning when I get up because it’s hard to get out of bed with no knee, said Mora, “It will never go away. It will always be in my mind and in my heart.”
Robert Salem, M.D chief medical officer emeritus of Covenant Health, said he remembers the aftermath of the storm.
“There were patients on all liters all up and down the halls and all the beds,” said Salem. “We operated all 10 operating rooms continuously for 24 hours–no one went home.”
Salem said there were phone lines that were down, and the hospital had trouble communicating out. He said there was also a water supply problem, so they had water bottles brought in to use in the operating rooms.
“I had one patient that had a tree limb stuck in his abdomen,” said Salem,” I had another with life-threatening injuries to his arm, his major artery on his arm was severed.”
John Murphy, Chief Operations Officer at the National Weather Service, said the F5 tornado forever impacted the way meteorologists classify tornados.
“One thing that came out of this was the rating of a storm, up until this event, the storms were just tornados,” said Murphy, “Every tornado since the Lubbock tornado has been giving a number from 0 to 5, 0 being on the low end, 5 being catastrophic.”
Dan Williams, Chair of the tornado memorial committee, said there was a lot of community effort to put the memorial together.
“I think a lot of the people that donated were here during that event, and so they remember that they remember what happened,” said Williams.
Williams said the memorial would serve as a gateway to downtown and hopes that everyone will visit the memorial more than once.
“I think the memorial really shows the resiliency of Lubbock citizens, how Lubbock quickly rebuilt itself after the tornado,” said Williams. “It shows our history and where we came from, and I think it’s really important for people to know.”