Lawton residents discuss what they remember on Terrible Tuesday

Lawton residents discuss Terrible Tuesday that took place 41 years ago

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -It’s been 41 years since one of the most destructive tornadoes tore through the Texoma area killing 58 people. Three lives were lost here in Lawton, and more in the city of Wichita Falls back on April 10th, 1979.

“Oh that was very vivid, and it will always be vivid. That’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” said Jimmy Brierton.

Jimmy Brierton, owns Jim’s Tire Service located on 2nd and Lee Boulevard. An area that was ripped through by the deadly tornado. He said he remembers it being a pleasant afternoon.

“All I know is all of a sudden it was there, and I was well aware that I was in a tornado," said Brierton.

It was just him and one employee inside the shop when the tornado hit. Brierton said they fell to the floor and braced for impact, something that felt like it lasted 30 to 40 seconds.

“I stood up, an when I did, my pants fell down around my ankles and come to find out that my building had a chat roof, and my pockets were literally full of chat, and I looked up and the sun was shining, and it started raining," said Brierton.

He said the roof of his building along with a lot of merchandise was gone. Even a 17 foot overhead door that was found a couple blocks away.

“I looked out and I could see all the buildings across the street just flattened," said Brierton.

He said he went to help others around him who were all okay. Randy Hibbard was working with PSO at the time and was called back into work.

“Then we started pouring diesel into the emergency generator to keep the control room operational, lights and stuff in there, and then we worked all night pouring the generator securing what we could in the turbulence and stuff, keep them from getting damaged any further than what the outside had been," said Hibbard.

Hibbard said he worked long hours that night and didn’t know the extent of the damage until later.

“Being able to see the lights coming on and going off, what lines that were up still up they were crossing each other and flashing. You’d see the flash in the night sky, and it’s something you don’t want to go through, but educational at the same time," said Hibbard.

A lot of destruction was caused, however Brierton said he was able to rebuild both his shop, and home which was also damaged.

“God provided a way for me to get back everything I lost, and I’m grateful and I always will be,” said Brierton.

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