Lawton remembers "Terrible Tuesday" thirty-five years later - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Lawton remembers "Terrible Tuesday" thirty-five years later

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LAWTON, Okla._It's been 35 years since one of Lawton's most destructive funnels touched down, causing mass chaos in its wake.

The tornado was the fifth part of the Red River Outbreak, a series of tornadoes that also devastated the City of Wichita Falls on April 10, 1979. Three people were killed by the Lawton twister, with hundreds more seriously injured. Now residents are reflecting on what they call "Terrible Tuesday."

Folks in Lawton say April 10, 1979 started out much like most Oklahoma days, sunny, breezy and warm. But they said the stability in the air almost flipped on a dime late that afternoon and before they knew it, an F-3 tornado was on the ground and it had south Lawton in its cross hairs.

"I mean it was a nice day, and it just boom!," said Sandy Rios, witness to the tornado's destruction.

Sandy Rios' parents live in the Lawton view addition, just yards from the airport. On April 10, 1979, they noticed a concrete table in their yard thrown aside and that would be just the beginning.

"It started right there in their backyard and started that way. It lifted the roof off of the house here," said Rios.

From there it cut a wide swath through the addition before arriving at Second Street and Lee Boulevard, one of Lawton's busiest intersections at the time.

"I'm parked waiting for the light to turn and as I'm sitting there I just kind of look up in the air and I see boards and all kinds of lumber just flying in the air," said Sandy Brazzel, tornado survivor.

South Lawton near Second Street and Lee Boulevard is where Hillis' grocery and the Four-Way Motel were completely destroyed and Salas restaurant virtually untouched. It's also the location where a man was killed by a collapsing wall, complete chaos within a matter of seconds.

"I looked over to my car and saw the semi that went over," added Brazzel.

"A lot of police officers and fire vehicles were driving over debris causing flats.  But we had different tire companies and volunteers coming out to replace flats on vehicles," said Sgt. C.H. Brazzel, on-duty officer during the tornado.

Two women were also killed by the twister, one who was swept off I-44 in her car and another in the destruction of her home. Lawton would rack up $14 million in damages. But that figure doesn't come close to the impact the tornado left on the Lawtonians in its wake.

"When it starts getting into April, you start thinking, ‘what's the day going to hold?' Yeah, I don't think you ever forget it," said Rios.

"Inevitably he'll call me this time of year, and he'll say 'mom, do you remember the tornado?' and I say ‘yes I do.' It' going to be okay because God is going to keep us safe. And he did. He kept us safe," said Brazzel.

In addition to the tornadoes in Lawton and Wichita Falls, funnels were also spotted that day in Faxon, Marlow, and Waurika.

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