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The Amazing Cyclone of Shopping Carts

Posted by Davbmn on 04/04/06 at 02:39 PM

TornadoA FailedSuccess editor finds himself trapped inside a torrent of terror

Tired of hearing about the St. Louis Arch’s so-called ability to control the weather, Mother Nature came after St. Louis. Where is your arch now, she was reported to ask.

My family and I reside in a small bedroom community north of St. Louis.  Not a town of any significance really, a few taverns, gas stations, and a lot of churches. This past Sunday (April 2, 2006), friends asked us to meet them for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in O’ Fallon, IL, which is 15 miles east of St. Louis and 40 miles from our home. After dinner, we said our good-byes and headed off for a peaceful drive home…or so we thought.

On our way home we decided to stop for a cup of coffee at a near-by Borders bookstore.  As we pulled up we realized that our friends had just so happened to followed us.  The women went inside to retrieve the Java while we men waited outside.  By this time, the sky had begun growing ominous.  I decided I had better get a weather update so that I could avoid the storms on our lengthy drive home.  The weather man reported that Tornado warnings were in effect in most of the counties over in Missouri, and the storm was moving east towards the Illinois side.  I was hoping that our drinks would come quickly so we could get on the road before the storm reached us.

Collapsed RoofAs our wait grew, my friend and his son decided they need to run in to use the restroom. They parked their vehicle and ran inside.  A few seconds later my son exclaimed that it was starting to rain and that the open windows needed to be rolled up.  As I shut the windows, drops of rain began falling more intensely, but nothing more than what your average rain shower would deliver.

Just then, I heard a giant rush of wind more intense than I have ever heard in my 37 years.  I looked up just in time to see what looked like a giant dust storm right in front of me.  Instead of dust, however, I saw a cloud of construction debris, rocks, and shopping carts.  That’s right, I said shopping carts.  These instruments of death were swirling upwards and outwards in a blur of speed.  There was no definite form that I could see to this swirl, being right in the middle of it, but I had no doubt as to what it was.  My car began to shake violently and I could feel it begin lifting off of the ground while myself and my three sons were still inside.

The swirl quickly became a wind tunnel of debris pelting my vehicle head-on.  The experience was both awesome and terrifying and I found myself awestruck at what was taking place.  I shouted to my oldest son “Hold on we’re in a tornado”.  Things were happening so fast that I could barely take it all in.  Before I knew it, this twister was gone as fast as it had come. 

Property DamageWhen I realized that the wind and blowing debris had died down, I snatched my sons from their seatbelts in the backseat and ran inside the bookstore where hundreds of people were standing awestruck in a darkened store.  I found my wife and our friends to let them know we were fine.

Only later did I find out that only a few feet in front of me, a 20 ft trailer had been ripped from the truck pulling it and flipped over onto 2 cars in the parking lot. Additionally, a few hundred yards away in the nearby shopping center, a K&G clothing store roof had collapsed, killing 1 and injuring 3 others in what has now been officially declared as an F1 tornado. A wall of severe weather and tornadoes had swept through the entire Midwest striking many states pretty hard, including Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, and others. The storm system ended up claiming 27 lives and causing millions of dollars worth of property damage.

The extent of the damage in our area was soon revealed, as the clouds started to break and the extent of the destruction could be seen.  Cars, businesses, and people had all been affected in one way or another and I was fortunate enough to have stared into the eyes of a natural destructive force and lived to tell about it.

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  1. The world’s largest ketchup bottle is located just a mile or so up the road from the scene of this desctruction.  I sure hope it’s okay

    Posted by anige  on  04/15/06  at  12:35 AM
  2. I used to live in Collinsville and drove past the shopping center you mentioned every day on my way to work in O’fallon.  Freaky.

    Posted by anige  on  04/15/06  at  12:29 AM
  3. Our power has been out since the storm. They finally have parts of the town back on, but half of the town still doesn’t have power. I guess its because of some downed lines somewhere.

    Posted by avenged sevenfold  on  04/04/06  at  07:12 PM
  4. Yeah, we had a lot of damage where I live in Fenton, MO as well. Lots of trees down, power lines, and some roofs blown off. Was a crazy storm

    Posted by rkelly  on  04/04/06  at  06:10 PM