EF4 tornado survivor shares experience in the vortex - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

EF4 tornado survivor shares experience in the vortex

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Tornado survivor Michael Anderson took shelter in a ditch as the storm passed overhead. Tornado survivor Michael Anderson took shelter in a ditch as the storm passed overhead.
"It kind of sucked the air out of me for a minute. It gets you in touch with your mortality pretty quickly, when you're thinking about if you put your head up, you might be dead."

Confronted with  EF4 tornado, Michael Anderson had only seconds to take cover in ditch.

But while holding on for his own life, he witnessed his friend and colleague struck by flying debris.

The two men witnessed that storm while lying in a ditch as the twister passed over them.

Anderson said he's never served in the military, but he imagines the incredible noise and chaos he experienced that night has to be close to the experience of warfare.

The only chance for survival was leaping out of a moving pickup into the eye of the storm as the building across the highway exploded from the pressure of the strongest October tornado the U.S. has seen in several years.

"It went into the sky, and all around us, it just began circling us and debris was shooting across the highway. Right here in this intersection there were pieces of farm equipment that were up on the road and moving, and at that point we knew it was a tornado and we had to get out," Anderson said.

Michael Anderson and his co-worker at Wayne State College, John Dunning, jumped out of the pickup as the windows shattered.  It drove away in the storm.  Anderson crawled down into the ditch to protect himself. 

"All of my instincts told me you don't ride it out in a vehicle, you get down. And fortunately there's a nice deep ditch right here that afforded, once I jumped out and crawled down as far as I could and covered my head and hoped that everything would blow over," Anderson said.

Even though they were driving into the storm, Anderson said they had no idea how serious it was until they were about a quarter mile away.

The heavy rain hid the funnel cloud, disguising the impending danger.

"Until the debris was in the air, in fact, that's what I said to John. I said, 'John, there's debris in the air. We have to stop,'" Anderson said.

Anderson escaped with a single broken rib and a deep cut on his hand, caused by a piece of a metal roof from a neighboring building that flew over his head as he crouched in the ditch.

John Dunning was not as lucky. He was hit by a commercial dumpster.  

Anderson says he looked up in time to see the dumpster bounce like a ping-pong ball over the highway, eventually hitting his friend.

"When you have things going over your head at 150 miles an hour that's pretty unusual, but the most surreal thing is seeing a friend and colleague that injured," Anderson said.

Anderson said he knew the injuries were serious and feared for John's life. 

"As for John, something as random as where that dumpster landed could have been it for him, but he's going to make it. It'll be a long recovery for him, but we're going to wait for him," Anderson said.

John Dunning was critically hurt. He's the Chief Information Officer for Wayne State College.

 Authorities say the 44-year-old Dunning underwent several surgeries at Mercy Medical Center where he's listed in serious condition.

 The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said he's one of 15 people that were hurt when the tornado hit Wayne.
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