Sunday afternoon our family was heading to the Southlands shopping area to have lunch at Red Brick Pizza. As we pulled in on the East side of the center we saw a funnel cloud start to form. The photographer in me wanted to stop and take a picture. I had never seen a tornado before. I asked my husband, Chad, to drive us to the other side of the complex for photos where the buildings wouldn’t be blocking the view.
We pulled into the West parking area and got out of the vehicle for several “fun” photos. During this time it was very calm, no wind. The kids were in awe of seeing a LIVE tornado.
Keeping a close eye on the clouds and how they were moving, Chad suddenly said, “We need to drive away from here, now.” The pretty white, fluffy funnel cloud had grown in size and was now a dark mass MOVING OUR WAY. Not even 2 minutes went by and the wind was so strong that the trees were blown sideways. Then the hail started. We saw 2” sized balls dropping. Our vehicle was being pummeled…it was so loud we had to yell to hear one another.
We drove out of the parking lot and turned onto the highway, rushing to the nearest overpass to hide under. As I turned around to watch behind us, a huge, dark, swirling cloud of debris and birds was circling over the entire center. I never saw the funnel touch down, but the wind was wrecking havoc.
Our friend called to say her dad (Aurora’s battalion chief) had been called in because of damage and injuries being reported. That’s when we started browsing online local news sites. Ariel views of the area show most of the damage taking place right at the Red Brick Pizza restaurant. This was the VERY restaurant our family had been heading to for lunch. I thank the Lord for keeping us OUT of the tornado.
I’m thankful my three children did not have to go through that kind of a traumatic experience. Just two minutes later and this whole story would have been different. But God has a way of always keeping us…in the whirlwind and in the storm.