Terrible Tuesday - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Terrible Tuesday

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Wichita Falls, TX - Thirty five years ago today, an F4 tornado ripped through Wichita Falls putting Terrible Tuesday in the History books forever. The Tornado touched ground for forty-seven miles, killing forty-two people.

Brian Walser, owner of Brian's Plumbing, survived the tornado by crawling in a man hole on the Northwest corner of Southwest Parkway and Fairway. 

"We made our way to a man hole cause that's what I was doing was putting in man holes for the sewer systems and we lifted the lid off and jumped in," said Walser. "There was actually a lady that jumped in before me and broker her leg. I was scared to deatht hat there'd be trash or something would get on top of that lid so i left it cracked. and that's when the lid rattled. Then it go quiet. So i popped my head out and we were in the eye of the tornado! The inside of it was real black, and it was identical to the movie Twister. You could see rooftops and cars circling overhead with dirt and stuff flying around. Then it got windy and I crawled back in."

Walser said the Tornado left what looked like a bomb had gone off. 

"It was basically like a war zone that day," said Walser.

Charles Harper, an Architect at Harper Perkins Architects, INC., left town around 6 p.m. towards Dallas for a church function.

"I heard about the tornado and thought that was very scary to me cause I lived on Southwest Parkway so I started to drive back home," said Harper.

Harper made his way to the Wichita County line where a police officer ushered him towards his home.

"When I got home my wife and one of my sons was there to greet me but my other son was out looking for his fiance," said Harper. "Two days later they found her body in a Volkswagen turned upside down. That weekend was the weekend of burial, burying all the people that died. I went to four funerals that week. I was in two of them. It still hurts to think about it."

After the destruction, Harper was asked to create a committee and rebuild the city.

"Naturally I accepted it," said Harper. We did real well. We put together a committee of about fifteen people. "We had been part of the group to get FEMA started in the seventies. And we just got it started and this was our first disaster, and it was in my own town."

In 1981, Wichita Falls received the all american city award for their Recovery. Harper became City Mayor five years later.

Though the wreckage was removed long ago and the days continue to pass by, Wichita Falls will never forget Terrible Tuesday.