thumbnail of When disaster strikes; Someone to lean on
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Six o'clock. For Mr. and Mrs. Pickens in the two room apartment over the cut rate drugstore and sell her story. Under ordinary circumstances Mrs. Pickens would have been in the kitchen fixing scrambled eggs and saw. That. She'd had it on the table when the clock struck six. Pretty far along in the Pickens is like to be in bed by 8. But this evening the circumstances are to ordinary not ordinary at all. Their front wall the one on the street is gone torn away from their apartment and the apartments on both sides. The roof caved in and their ceiling hangs down in the crazy Jagat V. There's dust on the floor broken legs and pieces of mortar around them and below you can hear demolition workers knocking was bricks from the really departments tossing them into piles on the street. Mr. and Mrs. Pickens don't seem to notice the noise of the rubble or the threat from the
Haven roof. Just sitting side by side in the living room. This is pick and rock a little Mr. Pickens kind of padding with one hand on the arm of his chair. And they won't move. We can't budge him It's the darndest thing you ever saw. But they can't stay there stay in there. I thought everybody was out and I was apartments thought all those people were evacuated soon as they could be right after the tornado. Yeah me too. Maybe you think we did nearly flip when we came across those two well don't they know that buildings can damned are going to be my man any minute that rough could come down it's just I know we told them all that. Times and they well that's right they won't. No arguments you understand no hullabaloo just that's whole It's all they got. It needs other. They figured to stay in it together. That's the only way they say they can get calm down and feel safe after the tornado. After all that's happened this evening. Radio television the University of Texas presents when disaster strikes
a series of programs designed to show how present day Americans meet the crisis of a disaster situation. All over our nation. Social scientists are seeking through special studies to find out how we as a people react to sudden and widespread catastrophe. With the help of Dr. Harry Moore director of disaster research at the University of Texas and the Hogg foundation for mental health we are going to share some of the things these scientists have found. When disaster strikes is produced and recorded by radio television. The University of Texas under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. Cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasts. Today's program. Someone to lean on. Disaster is no stranger in America. In the headlines over the air on the
screens we have been bombarded with a hard hard statistics of catastrophe 240 dead hundred houses destroyed 180 businesses. International news facts and figures strike our eyes and ears with a quick and startling impact. But they did not penetrate. Having struck they record often dude semi oblivion unattended uncomprehended the dead for us are not an unalterable answer to long hours of hopeful hopeless asking you know they found. Him in this truck. In a car outside. The building. But they didn't suffer. The way it happened. We know they didn't suffer. The injured are not for us. A problem to be cared for to be reckoned with through the stretching month.
It's just that he places. The dash on him that it took so long because of all that you do. And. Particles value in. That in the way you. Do About It. He. He she says without seeing those children. In that. Helpless here their face. The houses have not held all our belongings and our. Mom and. We take the steps. And speak in one class. And then we scratch and wash and scrub. There when anything in this house was. Been scrubbed and. Thinking that. It was awesome. Lots of bands I think two years ago and. Other things I think of they never quit. The businesses did not have a grim and anxious bearing upon our daily bread.
Then over to Stedman and Langford to see if they don't need somebody neither one of those places was where if you know what to do when they get the insurance straightened out that I've been with don't know when or even if it was going to people in business. The man's got mouths to feed. You can't just wait around. These things are the fabric of disaster covering the bare bones of tallies and totals for statistics give us only the skeleton of catastrophe to discover its full and true proportions we must look elsewhere. And here is Dr. Harry more of the University of Texas Department of Sociology to tell us where our search leads us.
I'd say to those areas of personal experience where the faster fate touches human beings where the shattering forces of disaster actually come to grips with the lives of people you know the family is a cornerstone of our American society. Consequently to find out what happens to the people in our society we must look to the family as a whole. Is that how we can say most clearly the full uncomplicated impact of disaster. One member of a family suffers during a disaster agency and loss of life of possessions by physical injury emotional upheaval is reflected in the experiences of all the other members. And what happens to them and time affects him. So each of us reacts to disasters less as an individual in solitary jeopardy and more as a part of a closely knit group facing a shared threat. Exactly. Now what do we find as we study the experiences of these families in crisis. What do they themselves tell us in these characteristic
way barred from authentic recorded interviews. When I got my car to go and lit up for that school house. The woman who spoke these words had four children to school which was partially demolished when the tornado struck. I cut my tires on pieces. Of. The police car me. And I thought. Well. If he can go through here I can too. Naturally you know when a person's children are like that. Why the people that had children in that school is they say they heard about it or they just almost went out of their heads. They just tear out their in their cars. Never mind what might happen to them you know. Just thought about those children and whatever got in front of them in the street they just try to climb right over that car and all. The principal said you boys run quick and tell your teachers I've had were the fun was headed this way and can't miss Lakeview.
The boy who had this experience he was in a school building partially right went by is there still room. Now you know Miss Gray. And then I just couldn't say nothing about the tornado was coming. Everybody better take shelter. All I could see over and over with ma just sitting there staring at me was. My mother and daddy are all right. Oh I hope my mother and daddy are all right. This is one of the most compelling reactions we find among families in crisis this disregard for one's own welfare when other members of the family are threatened and it is almost universally present among our American families when the sastra strikes substantial weighed again and again is the fact that in these crises the most important that the media can sign was not place no safety or protection of property but rather the welfare of loved ones. This abiding concern for their safety and well-being of one's family and the
absence of consideration of one's self. We find expressed in other ways among families in crisis. Themselves of this mother on the easy and feel for with an honest self. But they tend to protect the children's feelings of security along with it. They sent the children to the base. And so. They all started when. We didn't know of course what is another tornado. Which they. Could be. That's the thing I try not to. Show any fear. On this front. There was reassurance to the brothers. We listened we could hear the rumble and roar of the club. The littlest boy started crying and want to blow everything away like it did last year. She was carrying on like that. Want to know what can we do with that little 10 year old she said.
Oh goodness gracious ya'll we came through the other tornado. Right. What's the matter with you. Did you have any. Any confidence at all. To do more or less. Those others done. The efforts of this mother and this child to comfort and protect others and their families from fear. Maybe their unconscious common and deep seated need that is and they many times have to depend upon someone more powerful than self in Waco and San Angelo Texas on that fateful afternoon of 1953. And in San Angelo again before the year was out when the wind came in the darkness the hail in the rain when havoc was being wrought on all sides. That need was clearly revealed it was the families did what they said. Children depended on adults. Wives on husband.
Told her to stay by me every two or three minutes it seemed like she just walk up to me and tell me she was scared and I tried to console her. I guess if my husband had been home and used his judgment a little bit I would have been quite scared. But just all the responsibility on me and having to decide for the children. I just got so excited that I just I don't know if he could have been here and looked after things with me. If I go ahead. His opinion on it would help. Yes yes it would have helped. Thank you. I run across that schoolyard through all that water and all them wires and I could hear Laura I could hear through that windows screaming I want my brother and my sisters and all I could think was Please God please God
please God. Someone to lean on. A need often felled often voiced by our families when disaster strikes or after it has struck and may strike again. Sometimes the answer to that is present and permanent within the family. You don't seem to bother the children. There's no more say no that I come to school and get it and we have a tornado warning that is their monologue. They know they can go the basement. Then a night he goes on to bed. He says well I know you'll be watching the clouds. I'm going to bed I have to work tomorrow. The children they depend on me to sleep. Sometimes it's not quite so present not quite so permanent She said Well if you leave here you're going to have to leave me a good storm cellar. So you might as well make up your mind to finish it before you leave she said. We're either going to have you or a storm cellar
one because it's so we're staying by ourselves she said. And something happening like it did before and that will get it sometimes to the strength as a way when the first sharp and urgent demands of the crisis are over. When the anxieties about loved ones have been relieved that it happens as it happened to this mother that the one who has been leaned on needs it in turn. Mama and Lois did Eunice here in the kitchen. Oh. No wife and mama for Gracious goodness sakes what do you all do when he called to see about you baby. You and the children. If you was all all right. Soon as we heard about the tornado. They've been here nearly an hour now called an all round everywhere to Eunice on it we couldn't figure where you were that is till we talk to Marvel. We got hold of her after you'd been
there. She'd tell you about how you sonny Yeah he just can't even imagine what it was like when we finally did get home. The walls and the ceiling the whole roof had been taken off and the ceiling out in the front room. My first impression when I drove up was when somebody left the lights on it was that much lighter in there with the roof off. I declare Of course you couldn't take children in there. Hardly. So I thought well take them over to Burton a visitors their closest and that's what I did and then I just couldn't stop seem like hell I drove every place I could think of letting everybody know we were alright that's the main thing. And you're sure the children that they weren't hurt not a scratch scared the daylights out of him of course. Get the daylights out of me too. Reckon it did POA little thing look at her lowered her hands just a shade. Good Year Eunice track up a car is right honey now set right down here at the table and get something hot inside you're going to scare you. Oh you think tremble if you could've seen me trying to get them children rounded up and get away
from that school house. I had the baby and the two year old in the car with me you know. And Howie I got him out of the first grade building and I sent him to the big school to get the two old spodes I said Run quick get on is to laugh. I said so we can get home before the storm hits. Well then it did hit and I mean it hit. Me. And I didn't know whether to go back outside. The only three who turned out to have come here thank the Good Lord. But then there I was when it was all over. Stuck out there with them two little ones and I could see part of the school was wrecked and I had to go find him find out what had happened to him what was I going to show you this baby you always was a nervous child so wonder you didn't lose your mind. Well I just couldn't mama that's all. Course she could. She had them little ones to fun and I found them too. I run into the first grade room and I left the baby in the two year
old with our teacher. Then I run across to the big school and I elbowed and peered and poked through all those people till I found the other three and then I got us all out to the car and in and ready to go then you couldn't go home and goodness why not why. Oh well that's what I said. Why not. And Ralph. He got out when he was looking and he said. Because only. Because you're on the true shit roof. While I'm tellin you I'm just about. Right there and then. Oh my God. How did we ever blow away up here. Well we just got to get out. That's all I think you can stay on top of this thing all night. Ralphie looked at me like I was crazy which I reckon I was and he said. You're right. Load up on top of anything. It's low down under you. That's what it will. I don't just blow you.
A ballot you just been strung to the time. And now she says if this is just oh I am so are you. Go ahead honey Krom I'll cry good and healthy too. That's what I was going to cry. When it all. Those kids today with the dad. And nobody looking out for me you was holding up you dial now. Now you are you with us now you got somebody else. We went to San Angelo to talk to three women who worked with Dr. Moore on his San
Angelo survey. First we went to the San Angelo City County Welfare Department and talked to Mrs. Jones. Mrs. McGee as you do these surveys with Dr. Moore six months after the tornado in Lakeview did you discover a decided concern for the welfare of relatives rather than the individuals concerned for himself. Yes we found that very true. I think it was a time that self was completely forgotten and only others were thought of. What would you give us an example of this concern. Yes sir I particularly remember a young lady who was unable to locate her elderly parents far about 36 hours. Their home was completely demolished. They had been in very poor Hale and she couldn't find anyone who had seen them just prior to the tornado. She spent a great deal of time going from
one funeral home to a noser and checking the hospitals and had no idea where their bodies were are where they were if they were still alive. It developed that they were alive and were in one of the hospitals. But there was so much confusion in so many emergencies that their names had been left off the hospital livest. And she went steadily for 36 hours until she found them. Yes sir we couldn't get her to eat. We couldn't get her to even stop for coffee. She simply went madly from one hospital to another and from one dwelling to another where her parents had had friends what was her reaction when she did find her parents and found them alive. She had been very brave I hadn't cried or anything and yes she did find her parents but when she learned they were still alive she broke down in their homeland. Oh surveyed six months after the tornado. Did you
find of people still in emotional state at that time. Yes very particularly the children. It happened that I did some interviewing on a rather windy day about the time the children were coming in from school and the children ran in practically in tears asking their mothers whether or not there was going to be another tornado and that sort of thing. And the mothers told me that that had gone on constantly since the tragedy. Well as we talk today May 22nd it's five years since the tornado ripped through Lakeview. What do you notice about people's emotional reactions to weather. Here in the San Angelo area now. Well I think we pay a great deal more attention to any sort of cloud that comes from our two in the tornado warning that is issued. We have had a number of
warnings since then and we do have a regular tornado warning system. It's my understanding that when this happens the telephone lines are jammed. Our transportation is very congested. Parents leave their homes trying to get their children all together in that sort of thing. The search for someone to lean on following the disaster. Have you noticed any change in church attendance. Yes I believe that their church attendance has. Certainly become more noticeable I think that to people who never win at all are going now and perhaps those who attended only occasionally are going more regularly than we want out Chad Brown Ave. to the lakeview school and talk to Mrs. R. R. Lawrence and misses an hour north cut. This is stuff that you were teaching in the school at the time the tornado struck and have been teaching here ever since have you noticed any change in the
children of pre tornado action and post tornado action. Yes before the tornado the children didn't seem to pay any attention to the weather changes at all. But since the tornado. If there's a weather change they seem to notice that the weather is changing and they become interested in knowing if there are any on Earth out. Then mothers and fathers began to come into the building and take children home and when they do. That makes the others a little bit jittery. It is contagious. Do you have regular school. To a certain degree. Maybe in the weather. Sometimes they have everything ready but usually the children just immediately and they give us warnings you know a few hours before 30 minutes before that there might be a warning out later as we walk down the corridor of
the principal's office to your room I noticed a poster on the wall. Christ is the answer. Does that poster have a post significance. Well I would say it would because it's aimed at the high school students became our religious minded and it was it seemed that the youngsters really realized that God was there and they do have a feeling that. That he's still taking care of us. And another thing I noticed out of that particular graduating class they were number a number of ministers that you in your work with Dr. Harry Moore on the post tornado surveys. What reaction did you notice among the people that you talked to that might stand out above all others as an emotional reaction. I believe a bit is where you need
it. They were all say. There was a reaction or maybe a mother would carry on until her husband came the family she would go and she would hold up until the person that she could lean on was there. And then she would go to pieces and lean on that person. That's right. As you did your survey work did you note that people were reluctant to talk about their experiences in the tornado. No they seemed to be very good I give you information if you need. Them may seem anxious to Calum takes me here you know. You know. They seem to want to kind of talk it out to. Try to get the tornado out of their system by talking about it somewhat.
I think almost talk therapy. Thats why I used to do that in this town to town. And it seemed to help their feelings and emotions. Again they had someone to lean on. A sympathetic person who would listen. Busted in the press of catastrophe some rates back with memory and regret for the familiar and the cherished. Some reach up with faith and prayer. To a power beyond human reserves. Some look close at hand within their own family or nearby or someone to lend them strength and comfort. But it is together reinforcing one another. That people most often find the reserves of courage in the better they need to survive. When he decides to strike. It offers a boy. For having had himself someone. Ugly.
When Disaster Strikes Radio-TV the University of Texas has brought you the six in this series of programs designed to show how modern Americans react to the crisis of a disaster situation. Today's program someone to lean on was prepared with the cooperation of Dr. Harry e Moore of the Department of Sociology of the University of Texas and the Hogg foundation for mental health. We are indebted to Dr. Harry B Williams technical director of Disaster Research Group NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES National Research Council for advice and assistance. When disaster strikes is directed by R. C. Norris from Scripps by the Durham twins under the supervision of Robert F. Inc. Special Music is supervised by all the page who composed the original score. Your narrator is Jimmy Morris cactus Pryor speaking. Someone to lean on was produced and recorded by
radio television at the University of Texas under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. And is being distributed by the National Association for Education Week. English. This is the end Radio Network.
When disaster strikes
Someone to lean on
Producing Organization
University of Texas
KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-4f1mmg4k).
Episode Description
Impact of disaster on family groups. Behavior and attitudes of family members. Significant reactions to disaster, to the problems posed by disaster, and to the threat of future danger.
Series Description
This series focuses on disaster preparation, as well as the effects wrought by disaster.
Broadcast Date
Public Affairs
Tornado damage
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Advisor: Williams, Harry B.
Composer: Page, Frances Eleanor
Director: Norris, R. C.
Narrator: Morriss, Jimmy
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Moore, Harry E.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-15-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:11
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “When disaster strikes; Someone to lean on,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “When disaster strikes; Someone to lean on.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: When disaster strikes; Someone to lean on. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from