basically, i was in a tornado

Wednesday May 25, 2011

Theodore Wirth Chalet

On Sunday I was shooting a wedding reception at Theodore Wirth Chalet in Nouth Minneapolis and had one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.

Basically, I was in a tornado.

Well, not exactly in it, but I could practically touch it. And I saw it coming right towards me.

I was in the Theodore Wirth Chalet, a local Blue Grass band is playing, bride and groom are dancing, and family and friends are dancing.

I am standing in the open doorway (because that is a wide open light source and I want to be in control of that area :), after shooting some dance photos I decide to turn around — and look outside.

All day the weather had been crazy — cloudy with powerful downpours of rain, then it would stop and was just normal cloudy and overcast.

As I am turned around, I looked up to see what I think are, birds. I think to myself, “That is strange, those birds look weird.” — I say to the guys next to me, “Look at those birds. Don’t they look strange? They are really high up.”

THEN (maybe a second later) I see what looks like a rectangle swirling around 1000 feet up, and I think to myself, “Wait, birds aren’t rectangular! That is NOT a bird. Is that stuff? Is that a THING???”  And then I say it all OUT LOUD, “That is STUFF. Is that a tornado? THAT IS A TORNADO.”

Random, quick thoughts inside my head, “Why am I just finding out about this right now? It is going to hit us? It really is going to hit us. What is it going to feel like when it hits us?”

I seriously thought the tornado was going to hit us and I couldn’t believe it.

No sirens. No warning. No one telling me to find safety.

Just Blue Grass playing and people dancing.

I turn around, and in that split second I see the fear on the faces of the guests, as they realize what is right outside.

And then the power goes OUT.

It is now crazy pouring outside and I am now officially scared.

Totally and completely freaked out.

I hear people saying “go to the basement” so I grab my camera bag and apparently in the second it took for me to grab my bag — everyone is already in the basement.

I suddenly feel very very alone.

Luckily I’m not – it’s just the groom, the guy that was standing next to me in the doorway, and me, and then I start to cry.

Because I am scared.

The groom is super sweet and grabs my hand and tells me it is going to be okay.

I believe him and we head to the basement.

I give Jake and very quick frantic call and tell him that I just saw a tornado and we are in the basement. I am shaking.

This tornado, that I saw with my very own eyes, ripped through North Minneapolis killing at least 2 people, tore the roofs off houses, took down many huge trees, and smashed countless cars.

I saw it. It was powerful. It was strong.

And it was so scary.

I can still replay the images and hear my thoughts over and over in my head.

It was so bizarre to be that close to it. So freakin’ CRAZY!

But I feel very lucky to be safe and that everyone in the Chalet was fine.

Mother Nature is one tough cookie!

To help support the rebuild efforts in my friends Kai and Tia’s North Minneapolis neighborhood please check out the very cool t-shirt they designed and organized as a fundraiser.

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