By Mr. Ronald Hill
What were you doing in Lubbock in May 1970?
I was stationed in Lubbock with the DPS and had been since September of 1968, and we lived a mile east and a mile north of Acuff.
What do you remember from the night of May 11, 1970?
I had worked an early shift that morning and was home in the middle of the afternoon when I heard the sounds of hail hitting the ground...I looked out to see hail stones the size of soft balls! I had picked up a new state car in Austin one week earlier and I did not want to drive a "hailed damaged" car for two or three years so I went to the co-op gin at Acuff and parked under the "suction shed" and watched the clouds build to the southwest and west...About 8PM I went home and put on a uniform as it appeared things were going to get rough...
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 made me realize how frail our efforts are to "build" things and how quickly that "building " can be destroyed!
Did you know anyone who was injured or killed by the tornado?
I did not know any of the victims of the tornado.
Did you or anyone you know help with the emergency response or cleanup following the tornado? What was your role? Explain.
I was on Farm Road 789, about a mile north of where we lived and watched as the lights of eastern/northeastern Lubbock just disappeared...Another patrolman, Joey Sherman, was on Farm Road 400 to my west when Lubbock DPS "went of the air" in mid broadcast...Joey asked what happened to Lubbock, and all I could answer that he must have lost power...and he had.
Lubbock came back on with directions (orders) from Major Charlie Bell (Regional Commander of Region 5) for all units to report to Lubbock - that Lubbock "had been hit".
I went to the house and put on work boots - I wasNOT going to get into that mess with "low quarter thin soled " shoes !!
My first assignment was to turn all traffic south and west at the intersection of University and 19th !!! Impossible for one person ! A Civil Air Patrol truck pulled up and asked if I needed help and my answer was YES ! One man got off and we were about to get into a real mess when a car load of teenage boys drove up and asked if they could help...I asked if they could direct traffic and he replied, "If you will show us how !" Those boys "saved our bacon " and were (still are) much appreciated !!!
DPS "helped" LPD for two weeks after the storm and when we were on an intersection to keep unnecessary traffic out of the destruction, there were young people who brought sandwiches, hot coco, coffee, and doughnuts, etc.around (at all hours of the early morning hours) and were so very much appreciated... and still are !!!
How did the tornado experience change you? How did it change the City of Lubbock?
It made me realize that what we work for (in the 'natural') is so temporary and easily "wiped out"... not that we shouldn't work for possessions, but should not put so much "confidence" in those things !
I also realized, and still feel that we are far too cynical toward one another and society in general...People are far more "real", reliable, and considerate than the "world" tells us (through the 'media', etc.)!
I transferred to Sweetwater in November of 1971, and thus am not sure of how the tornado changed Lubbock...except for many, many, many cellars!!
I still have a true affection for the South Plains and its people - Very glad I had the pleasure of working in that region !!!