Anke Corbin, marketing director for the Skiing Company, was inside the Pavilion setting up a booth for Ski, Skiing, and OutdoorExplorer.com when the structure was destroyed. Though the entire building was leveled she miraculously escaped with only a couple bruises. “It was very much a life altering experience,” she says. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
The following is Anke’s account of what went on inside the Pavilion during the tornado:
“I’d been in the building for about ten minutes. I was just setting up. In the tent there are huge plastic tubes, they were air conditioning ducts and they started shaking and making this really loud noise.
“It’s kind of weird because seconds before I saw this couple just running down the halls and I’m like what is up with them. They were screaming. And just as I was thinking, “That’s weird,” then stuff started hitting me. It was like ouch. Poking me in the back. Just stuff from all over and it’s weird to think about now, but I was kind of annoyed by it. Why is all this stuff hitting me? Then the roof started to rattle and then it started to lift off and the beams were starting to shake and fall down and I literally dove under the little computer table next to a big metal computer monitor case. The table landed on the case it made this little spot and I curled up under there before the beams came tumbling down.
“I didn’t clue in at first. No one was saying, “Tornado Warning: Get down.” Nothing. It just crashed down. As I was hiding here I kept thinking, how much more stuff is going to keep coming down. And then the hail started and then the rain and it started pelting us.
“By then I knew it was a tornado because people were screaming and saying things. I poked my head out and the hail was still coming down really hard. I didn’t know enough about tornadoes to know if it was just the middle of the storm and if there was more coming or if I should stay put. I didn’t know. So there was a guy standing up about five feet away and I yelled, “Is this just half of it?” And he didn’t know.
“At that point I got out. I was like okay, whatever, I need to get out from under all this. I was crawling, kind of climbing over things and there were people underneath. There were people around under stuff, screaming. We were trying to help people. I got out then. I was stopping and trying to pull stuff out so we could get to people, and those huge beams were next to five or six inch bundles of electric wires. The lights were still shining so we knew the power was still on and this guy was screaming, “Turn the power off, turn the power off. There are people stuck under here.”
“There was no way to lift the beams because they were huge two-foot by two-foot metal structure beams. We were trying to pull stuff out so these people could be reached. Then official started coming up and saying that you guys have to get out of here. Emergency people only because there are more tornadoes coming. So they weren’t allowing us to stay and help.
“There was a woman and man near me. The lady near me who was coherent, but I didn’t hear the guy. Someone said that his leg was broken. The lady had her nose broken. But they lifted the crates and I think they were able to reach him. But the lady, they weren’t able to reach and by then they were shooing us out. They took us to a parking structure and then they have to move us again because the gas line was broken. Then they made us walk into the middle of the road but where also saying that more tornadoes were coming. I mean they had no idea what to do. We asked them where they wanted us to go and they were like, “I don’t know.”
Finally, I just left and went back to the hotel. And I’m here, but I have nothing. No plane ticket. No wallet. The only identification I have is my Outdoor Retailer Badge. I have no phone. But I have my life and I’m incredibly happy for that.