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Thread: Tornado hits Fort Wayne

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Northeast Indiana
    Posts
    123

    Unhappy Tornado hits Fort Wayne

    It was probably the scariest moment in my life, and I had little warning that a tornado was about to strike! At 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night the rains came down harder then I've ever seen. The lights flashed inside my store, and alerted me to the possibility that we might lose power. As I stood near our front doors I soon spotted a mob of people (15-20 total) running down the sidewalk away from Best Buy. Quite literally, they were running for their lives. It was the most freightening sight that I've ever seen! It was as if they were running away from King Kong in the movies!

    Immediately upon seeing the mob, and noticing that the winds had picked up, I instinctively radioed our store staff to "RUN. GET TO THE BACK OF THE STORE. RUN. GET DOWN."

    At that point, a few of the freightened mob ran into our store screaming. This time, in a panic, I screamed out loud to our shoppers and staff, "RUN. RUN. RUN. GET TO THE BACK OF THE STORE. GET DOWN. RUN." Quickly, I then glanced back outside, and ten yards from where I was standing I saw what appeared to be a thick film of dirt and debris clearly circling around. I looked at the back of our store, and saw sheer panic, and chaos, as everyone ran for cover. At that point I realized it was too late to run, and I hit the floor, and it was over. All told, this whole sequence of events took no more then 30-40 seconds, but in my mind, I keep replaying it over and over, and it seemed like it was in slow motion.

    When I stood up, I quickly saw that the tornado had touched down in our strip shopping mall, but there was no damage to our store, and no one was hurt. However, outside it was a different story. To our left, Best Buy, Value City and Kohl's received major damage. In front of Best Buy, the parking lot was a disaster. Cars were strewn about. Some were on top of each other. Others were on their side; while some were flipped over. Gasoline, oil and smoke were everywhere. There was sheer chaos outside. Probably 20-30 cars were completely totaled! The best way to describe the scene is to imagine someone holding a box containing 30 Matchbox cars, and then imagine them being dumped from the box onto the floor. It was that bad!

    Back inside our store, customers were confused and scared. Trying to maintain my composure was difficult. Some of our customers, had been split up from loved one's while running for cover. Others were separated from their family because they had chosen to shop in separate stores. Regardless, fearing another strike, we didn't allow anyone to leave until the tornado warning had passed.

    Back outside, I later learned that over at Kohl's, an upstairs exterior wall was gone, and a major gas leak had occurred! We had to close our stores early, and shut down.

    Beside Kohl's, the former NTB (National Tire and Battery) building was blown out. Across from the strip mall, Damon's Restaurant lost half of its roof. A manager was reported to have been sitting at his desk in the office at the restaurant, he looked up, and the roof was gone.

    The tornado then went back up, and 1-2 miles down the road it moved towards some residential communities. My wife was at home with our young son. She saw the twister drop back down a 1/2 mile from our townhouse, and it thundered through the housing subdivision besides ours. Homes were destroyed! Debris went everywhere! My wife grabbed our son, and headed for cover. It blew through our community causing extensive damage. Large trees were uprooted, and thrown about. Some homes lost roofs, while others had trees discarded ontop of them, crushing decks, and upper levels.

    As it left the residential community, it completely leveled a number of small office buildings nearby. Then it swiftly crossed the street, and wreaked havoc upon a large sprawling retirment community. Windows were blown out, and large sections of the roof were torn away, including the steeple atop the main building. One 40-50 yard section of roof was gone. Its residents were spared though. They had taken cover in the the basement.

    In all instances, not one person died, and their were no major injuries. My family was okay too. Our home sustained a broken window from a gutter that had become dislodged, there was damage to our roof, and we were without power until 8 or 9 in the morning.

    It was the most freightening experience of my life. I had come face to face with the tornado. It was staring at me through the glass, and I wasn't but ten yards away from it.

    The Lord was watching out for me, and others. He gave me enough notice to prepare, by signaling impending danger with the power surge, but I had no idea what was about to happen. What are the odds that it would hit where I work, and where we live? Obviously, He has other plans for us, and it simply wasn't our time!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Location
    Columbia, Missouri
    Posts
    440

    Exclamation


    Oh my god!! I'm so glad noone was hurt!

    Just looked on cnn.com, and found this picture:



    Earthquakes seem so minor compared to something that can pick up cars and throw them about...

    Take care! Thats quite an ordeal to go through!

    jeff

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Posts
    1,340

    Smile

    Wow, What an ordeal! I'm glad noone got hurt as well. I was seeing this on the news and it sure looked scary alright, cant imagine what it would have been like at ground zero. I'll bet ya gave your wife and son a big hug when ya got home!

    Octo



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    54

    Unhappy

    I can relate to how you must feel. I lived through a tornado in northeast Ohio in 1985. My stepmother was taking an aerobics class when the tornado demolished the plaza she was in. My dad and I knew she was in the plaza, but the police would not let us in the area. She was buried under rubble for a couple hours, and was hospitalized for a week afterwards. She is OK now (except she freaks during storms), but several in the plaza did not make it. A roller skating rink was also demolished, and beings it was a Friday evening, an hour later it would have been filled with kids. The totaled plaza was directly behind my dad's development. The only thing ever found of his car was the rear bumper (identified only by the license plate). The whole evening was very surreal.

    Always remember to count your blessings, and that enjoy life because you only live once.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Northeast Indiana
    Posts
    123

    Unhappy

    Yes Lori...the experience was very surreal. My wife and I thought this was the perfect word to describe what happened.

    The picture Jeff has provided was taken from the parking lot of where I work. As you can see from the photo, people were standing around completely in shock.

    It took forever for me to get home that night. By the time I left for home, the streets were crammed with curious onlookers, and police were rerouting everyone away from the devastation. Eventually I did get home, and yes, when I saw my family, I broke down and cried in their arms. I was thankful that we were all alive!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Florida, USA
    Posts
    369

    Smile

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You really are a great writer! I live in central Florida which is the lightning capital of the world. Can you describe what the tornado sounded like? We get bad storms a lot and most people say to listen for the sound of a freight train. It gets really scary sometimes. Thanks, Kat

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    Tampa, FL. USA
    Posts
    67

    Smile

    Yeah Kat it does sound like a freight train, actually it sounds a little creepier than a freight train. Here in Tampa about 10 years ago a tornado hit a block from my apartment. I remember looking at the sky, and not realizing it had touched down at the time, and thinking how incredibly still and quiet it was. When I heard it I didn't know it was a tornado at the time, but believe me, once you hear that sound it's not something you soon forget. I also remember how strange the sky looked, the clouds were literally green. That is an amazing story mctalg, and wonderful that there were no fatalities. I don't know about you, but every once in a while(especially if it's a very windy storm)I find myself getting very nervous and tense. But, thank god you and your family are still around. Peace be with you dude. Love, E

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