By Mr. Stanley Kruljac
What were you doing in Lubbock in May 1970?
At the time of the tornado, I was a patrolman for the Lubbock Police Department and on duty. I was on patrol in the downtown district, it bordered Texas Tech campus. The sky turned green. Very eerie feeling to say the least. It got deadly still prior to the tornados hitting. This is what was so eerie to me.
What do you remember from the night of May 11, 1970?
I pulled into the drive of the police department which was attached to Lubbock Power and Light. As I pulled in I saw a transformer on a telephone pole explode. As I got further into the drive, a car was pushed backward striking the front of my police unit. It was a family seeking shelter in the basement of the police department. They got out of the car and child was blown down in the driveway. I scooped the child up and we all ran into the back door of the police department. I directed them to the basement stairwell. I then went to the front of the department. As I got in front near the desk, the front window blew in knocking me down, not a scratch. I got up with the assistance of Sgt. Ussery. I was going to have to go the the morgue to tag the deceased, but my lieutenant, Ray Huffman, selected me to go with him to the Sheriff's Department and coordinate radios for the duration. I was on duty for two days. I could not contact my family. The next day I walked up the stairwell of the Great Plains Life building. I then directed traffic at two one way streets. Quite a night for us all. I had a woman pull up in my intersection and stop, she asked, "Is the Wig Mart open today? I told her to get the you know what out of my intersection. The last time I saw her she was speeding off. Go figure people. This is the first time I've told this story. Thanks for the opportunity.
What was your reaction to the destruction you saw in the days following the storm? Did the storm damage your home, workplace, or school?
The destruction was terrible, the Great Plains Life building was twisted. We walked it looking for anyone that was there. We found no one.
Did you know anyone who was injured or killed by the tornado?
No, I did not know anyone.
Did you or anyone you know help with the emergency response or cleanup following the tornado? What was your role? Explain.
I was directly involved as stated in the emergency response. We had an excellent police department and a great shift of police officers. Our leadership was outstanding. Lt. Huffman did a superb job that night and the following day.
How did the tornado experience change you? How did it change the City of Lubbock?
It made me very well aware of the danger of such storms. I'd been on tornado watch before going out to Reese AFB and watching clouds at night. I take these warnings much more seriously now.