According to data from the City of Lubbock, the first tornado touched down
at the intersection of what is now Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard
and moved northeast, causing little damage. The second tornado, though,
struck at the heart of downtown and slowly moved north toward the airport,
virtually destroying the Guadalupe neighborhood and Lubbock Country Club addition.
“I will never forget the role the hospitals played,” Johnston
said. “They didn’t have practice with tornadoes. You just
never think one is going to hit your community. There was no issue they
couldn’t deal with and make right and provide outstanding health
care to the community in a time of disaster.”
The view of the events of that night was equally intense from those who
were working at the time. Mozelle Wilson was a nurse at Methodist when
the tornado struck.
“I was between pediatrics and med-surg,” she said. “They
pulled me that day from my floor and I worked on the floor with all the
critical patients who were coming in because they needed the trauma unit.
I went down there and worked for two days with victims coming in. It was
The overwhelming majority of patients were treated at Methodist, said Dr.
Robert Salem, who was on staff at the time, although he almost missed
being part of the team treating the injured.
“I wasn’t on call that night,” he said. “I knew
we’d had a bad storm because they had said so on the radio. My television
was off. Our lights were out. I called the emergency room and said if
you need me, call me. I went to bed and then around 1 a.m., I got a call
from a doctor in Littlefield. He apologized for bothering me on such a
busy night, and I said it hadn’t been too bad other than a few minor
accidents. I called the ER to tell them I had a patient coming in, and
they said, ‘Where have you been? We have patients laying all over
the place. We’ve had this massive tornado.’”
Salem rushed to Methodist to help triage victims. The patient from Littlefield
arrived but that procedure was put on hold while tornado victims were
taken care of. “If it hadn’t been for that call about a patient
with a bleeding ulcer in Littlefield, I might have missed the whole thing,”
Others, though, were in the eye of the storm for some time, providing round-the-clock
care to the wounded in addition to handling “regular” patients
and job duties.
“Methodist basically just opened up its emergency room and everybody
went over there and went to work,” said Dr. T. H. Holmes, a longtime
Lubbock physician. “My son was on a date that night and my wife’s
parents were living in Lubbock. Once I learned they were all OK, I said,
‘Well, I’m gone.’ I went to Methodist. (Dr.) Joe Arrington
was doing triage. (Dr.) Bob Salem was doing triage. I was doing whatever
needed to be done.”
The example of medical professionals pulling together and doing whatever
it took in the midst of terrible tragedy carried the day and became a
hallmark of Lubbock residents in the aftermath of the community’s
recovery and rebirth.
"Faith and Healing - Celebrating Covenant Health's Century of
Caring" will be available for purchase early 2018.