July 26, 2009

Tornado #2

I don’t know who all heard, but earlier this summer I was at work when a tornado touched down in the area. We had to hide in the bathrooms, deal with leaking water, etc. It was scary but not so bad.

Today definitely trumps that day.

Taylor and I were driving back up to Dallas from Houston and decided to stop at the huge Buc-ee’s in Madisonville for some gas and a drink. As we pulled up it started raining pretty hard, and by the time I got to a pump, the wind and rain was so bad that I couldn’t get out of my car. When I finally did, I found out there was no gas left. Weird, but I worked at Buc-ee’s before and I’ve seen it happen. So Taylor and I pulled up front and went inside to wait out the storm.

We were in there about ten minutes and the lights started flickering. A few minutes later the power was out completely. The wind and rain was getting really bad by this point. There were about 100 people in the store watching the rain fly horizontally outside, unable to see even as far as the gas pumps.

Then someone said “tornado,” sending everyone into a panic and causing several children to scream simultaneously. Almost immediately, the doors on the north side of the building blew in, spewing glass all over the store. Everyone ran to the bathrooms.

After a little while we all trickled out and started wandering around the store. They made an announcement that they would be accepting payment for merchandise with cash only. Taylor and I only had $2 so we got free snacks out of the deal. When the rain finally died down a bit, we headed out. Right at the on-ramp to the highway, we discovered that the wind had blown an RV on its side, which congested traffic quite a bit. Also, signs had blown over and branches were everywhere. Once on the highway we started seeing buildings that had the siding ripped off, and garage doors that were absolutely twisted from the wind.

We were moving slowly north on the highway when we started to notice that there was NO southbound traffic. We knew there must have been a wreck or something. Sure enough, we start seeing electricity poles completely snapped in half, one after another. Then just over the hill we saw the hold up. An electric pole had snapped, slammed into the side of a truck, then the wires had apparently wrapped around the truck, burning the other side. There was also an 18-wheeler with its windshield smashed in and a random horse standing in the road. (??)

Traffic was backed up for 5-10 miles. I felt so bad for everyone. They were all walking around on the highway trying to figure out what was going on, while people on both sides of the highway were trying to remove their cars from the mud after getting forced off the road in the storm.

I am so thankful that God had someone looking after us. When we were leaving Lake Jackson I meant to stop at a Buc-ee’s down there. The one right by my house was full, so I decided to try the one up the road. When I got to that one, a guy wouldn’t let me change lanes to exit so I missed that one too. Had I gone to either of those, I wouldn’t have stopped in Madisonville and therefor would have been caught in the middle of the tornado on the highway.

Also, my former Buc-ee’s boss is now the manager of that store. He handled the situation so well. And he even took the time to stop and shake my hand and ask me about life while all that craziness was going on. Dan is awesome. Everyone at Buc-ee’s is.

Pictures!

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2 Comments

  1. Tom Jul 27, 2009 2:18 pm

    I was there also. We stopped to try and come into that North side door but the rain was coming so hard we didnt get out. From the outside we could see the manager holding the doors shut because of the wind, I guess we moved out of site about 30 seconds before they blew in. We ended up back on the feeder and rode it out a couple of cars behind the RV that got blown over in the intersection. Another site said it was an 80 mph microburst but I beg to differ. Sitting inside my SUV, that was a hell of a lot more the 80 mph winds.

  2. Ann Jul 27, 2009 3:52 pm

    We were there, too. Not 10 minutes before it happened, my boyfriend warned me to stay away from the windows. Words of wisdom!! I’m glad no one was seriously injured.