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'Lucky is an understatement': Woman hurt in Gaylord tornado recounts storm

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Posted at 9:11 PM, May 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-23 08:06:19-04

GAYLORD, Mich. — It’s the moment Avery Rausch never imagined.

“The only thing that runs through your mind is you’re about to die,” said Rausch. “You watch the roof fly off and you watch everything falling, you just don’t think that you’re going to survive that.”

The 19-year-old, who lives in Mancelona but works at Maurice’s in Gaylord, survived Friday’s EF-3 tornado.

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She was in the middle of a shift. Three other coworkers and a customer were in the store at the time.

“We just looked outside and we could see half of it, like we were in the whole thing [ the tornado],” said Rausch.

According to Rausch, the storm was too quick for any of them to think much about where to take cover.

The tornado ripped off the back half of the store, which left clothes, mannequins, and other items exposed.

“I hid myself in a fitting room and blocked myself with the door,” said Rausch. “That’s probably what caught most of the stuff from hitting me.”

She added, “It really put into perspective how lucky we are, like lucky is an understatement. The fact that we walked out is a miracle.”

Video captured by Rausch after the storm shows her and her coworker bloody and in shock.

Survivor Recounts Gaylord Tornado Touchdown

She suffered a concussion, while the others had minor injuries. She calls the psychological injuries more painful.

“The mental is definitely 100 times worse than the physical. That’s going to take I think years to probably get over,” said Rausch. “It’s just an unbelievable experience that is so once in a lifetime you never think it’s going to happen to you, especially in northern Michigan.”

Now left without a job, Rausch says there’s no need to worry about work.

She plans to take some time off to spend time with her loved ones, although eventually, she wants to return to the place that’s currently too hard to envision.

VIDEO: Chopper 7 flies over cleanup from Gaylord tornado on Sunday

“I really hope that they rebuild the store because it was such a big part of our lives, like a whole community, whole family that that store put together,” said Rausch.

Rausch’s coworkers have started a GoFundMe to help with recovery efforts.

To learn more or donate, click here.