Teens recall scary experience during tornado

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jun 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-22 22:51:28-04

PORTLAND, Mich. -- Monday's EF-1 tornado in Ionia County left many people running for cover. Karlie Bartlett, 16, said that she was driving in her car with her classmate Mallory Scheurer when the storm hit. With the pouring rain, Karlie pulled into a nearby parking lot.

"Laying on the ground, I was just like, 'This is so harsh. Are we going to make it?'" Karlie recalled.

"Ten seconds later, there was like 10 branches that kept hitting my car door, and then I was like, 'We need to go.'"

Her friend Mallory was stuck in the passenger seat because debris was slamming into the car.

"She was holding onto the bike rack," said Mallory. "There were branches pushed up against my car door. She's holding onto the bike rack yelling my name, but I couldn't get out of the car. Then the branches move and go into another guy's window, I can get out of the car."

Karlie said that she was knocked to the ground and that her cell phone flew out of her hands. She grabbed onto a bike rack as hard as she could, unable to even open her eyes because of the strong wind and rain.

"I fell down because I couldn't move because the wind was so strong, and then I fell down and I was reaching for the bike rack while I'm trying to get back up, and Mallory got out of the car, and we just bolt in there," said Karlie.

The pair was able to make it inside of West Side Grocery. When the storm passed, both shaken up but unhurt.

"It happened so fast, and then we walked out here, and there was houses destroyed and there was branches covering roads," said Mallory. "No one could get through. It was crazy. It was probably a time span of five minutes."

The owner of West Side Grocery, who let those girls take cover inside his store, was also seen giving away free water and snacks to volunteers cleaning up the debris.