At about 6:45 p.m. Monday, a tornado hit Charleston and South Charleston, uprooting trees and knocking down power lines and causing at least three families to run for their lives.
Kourtney Kirk, a Charleston resident, described her terrifying experience of being trapped in a car on Hickory Road, in South Hills, with her family as trees collapsed around them.
“All of a sudden, it started raining, and it was black out and we couldn’t see anything,” she said. “Then, a tree fell in front of our car, and then behind our car and so we were just trapped. My [fiance], Ethan, his first thought was, ‘We’ve got to get out of the car or we’re going to get smashed.’”
Kirk said she took her baby from the backseat and ran with her fiance to a neighbor’s house, where they watched a tree land on their car.
“It was the most terrifying moment of my life,” she said.
Kirk said she is happy everyone in her family is safe and that they can now focus on her wedding on Saturday.
About 18 minutes away, in a home off Childress Road, near Alum Creek, Debbie Wilson was sitting with her family in her living room, watching the severe-weather warnings on TV when she heard the wind begin to howl outside.
“I came to the door to look out and saw our table was rolling and the glass had shattered, and then we heard a boom and [her husband] Mike said get away from there,” she said.
Seconds later, a tree collapsed onto the roof, causing the ceiling to crash into the living room and kitchen. The family had barely made it to the next room.
“The ceiling collapsed, and then, a little bit later, it collapsed more, and then, overnight, it collapsed even more,” she said.
Wilson and her family stayed in a hotel overnight, and when they returned Tuesday morning, they realized that nine trees had landed on their house.
“This can be fixed,” she said. “It can be replaced or repaired or whatever needs to happen, but we’re safe.”
Tuesday morning, damage from the storm could be seen all over Charleston and in surrounding areas, with some trees preventing residents from leaving their neighborhoods.
Shawna Sigmon, a Charleston resident, said she watched as her neighbors got into Lyfts parked on the other side of downed trees and power lines that were blocking the roads, to go to work Tuesday morning.
She also said that she’d never experienced a storm like the one Monday evening.
“It was very eerie and strange and just came out of nowhere,” she said. “I yelled at my children to run downstairs. It kind of sounded like an airplane was going to land on our house.”
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin asked Sigmon and other residents in areas that were majorly affected by the storm if they needed anything and told them she’d be available anytime to help.
Sigmon pointed to her son, sitting next to her, and said, “He said, ‘That was my first tornado,’ and I said, ‘It was my first tornado, too.’ ”