Terrible Tuesday And the "Aftermath"

Published: Apr. 8, 2016 at 12:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2016 at 2:38 AM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, TX - Yesterday people in Wichita Falls relived the destruction and reconstruction of their city following a deadly F-4 tornado that struck the town 37 years ago on April 10th, 1979 otherwise known as "Terrible Tuesday". On that date Frank Gohlke, a Wichita Falls native, had his camera ready to capture the disaster through photographs. Many of which are now openly displayed inside a gallery at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University. 

?"The photographs here of places where had rebuilt themselves rebuilt their lives rebuilt their families and their connections that really demonstrated to me what resilience is," said Gohlke.

In years time Gohlke not only captured a community destroyed but one that also the community that would re-create it's self.  

"It not only worked here but it really functioned in a way that a community is supposed to function when the chips were down," said Gohlke. 
Ann Hunter was teaching a kids clay class inside the museum on "Terrible Tuesday". Hunter said she remembers it like yesterday.

"The sirens were going off, the phones were out it was really had to communicate," said Hunter. 

While Hunter her family and those in the clay class survived many were not so lucky. However, when Hunter looks at the photographs that Gohlke snapped the day off the tornado and photos of the same image a year later she said she is reminded of how the community was able to clean up and somehow return to a sense of normal.

"You see a tree that has been broken and looks as if that tree is surly gone and when Frank Gohlke came back a year later it's it's up and growing," said Hunter. 

Carol Wagner was once Carol Russell, the Wichita Falls Mayor Pro-tem on that deadly day April 10th, 1979.

"We were devastated we lost one quarter of our housing in a matter of 15 minutes we had 3,200 seriously wounded we had 46 of our own dead," said Wagner.

While Wagner mourns and remembers those who lost their lives she also remains inspired by what she said was a city that was rebuilt by faith. Wagner believes the timing was terribly symbolic because the next Sunday after the tornado was Easter, a time of res erection and renewal and rebirth. 

"It took A great deal of prayer, a lot of grit, a lot of ingenuity, and a lot of volunteerism. Volunteers from within the community and help that poured in from across this nation, it was an incredible thing to watch," said Wagner. 

What moved Gohlke the most was the feeling of continuity. Many of the photo's taken showed homes, businesses and buildings re-built exactly as they were before the tornado hit. 

"The people of Wichita Falls should be heartened by their own resilience and devotion to their community and to it's future," said Gohlke. 
The exhibit is called "Aftermath: A Story of Destruction & Resilience" by Frank Gohlke. The museum is free to the public so admission entrance won't cost you a penny. Gohlke's exhibit will only remain up until the end of May. Click HERE for more information on the WFMA.