The site of wind-flipped cars and a rushing funnel cloud had Beavercreek shoppers running and driving for cover as a tornado tore through the parking lot of the Greene Crossing at Indian Ripple and County Line Roads on Tuesday.
Gina Allen of Xenia was walking out of the Kmart in Beavercreek with her husband and 3-year-old daughter when they saw what they believed to be a funnel cloud.
“As soon as we got to the front doors we just saw the funnel cloud coming right at us,” Allen said. “It was almost a shock. It looked animated to me. Our reaction was to run back inside the store and let everybody know. We had to scream to everybody to get under something. I don’t think they believed us at first. Everybody just kind of froze.”
Allen said the funnel cloud kept coming towards the doors and veered to the right.
“Somehow, it did not hit us,” Allen said. “In my mind I had this feeling come over me that any second it was going to get us or take my daughter out of my husband’s arms.”
The cloud bypassed the store.
Alexei Lozada of Beavercreek said he was talking on his cell phone while seated in his car in the parking lot near the Waffle House restaurant in the shopping center.
“All of sudden it starts getting very windy. I see the trees just blowing left and right,” Lozada said. “I’m looking behind the Waffle House. It happened very quickly. I saw a small twister just forming behind the Waffle House. I couldn’t believe it.”
He said as he tried to drive away he saw pieces of the Waffle House roof come off.
“As I’m trying to drive away, there are several cars that are doing the same thing. There are cars that are waiting to leave that whole parking lot area,” he said. “I’m seeing several cars starting to flip because of this twister that is coming.”
One of the cars flipped twice, he said.
His Acura MDX swayed in the wind, but he was able to drive away from the area.
Lozada said he called 911 as he drove away and was told by a dispatcher that calls had already started coming in about the flipped cars.
David Huber of Miami Twp. was working out at Fitworks, about 20 feet from the windows, when he heard a loud noise.
“It was just a really loud noise. I knew something was coming and I started yelling, get down, get down, get down,” Huber said. “Everybody was running, but I was afraid that the windows were going to break, so I layed on my face and took my hand to the back of my head until it passed.”
Before he got on the ground Huber saw debris flying around and a shopping cart roll by at top speed.
Huber said the ordeal was over in less than a minute.
“It was like the building had been hit by a wrecking ball. It just jarred the whole building,” he said. “We knew some damage had happened to the roof because all of the ceiling panels had jerked themselves. The entire building filled with dust immediately. So, you could hardly see to get out.”
Huber also said he and other patrons started smelling gas and could see water running through the roof. Huber heard one of the patrons say that he could see the sky through a part of the ceiling.
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