SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - It's a night she'll never forget. Karissa Wahlert goes back in her mind to the terrifying moment a tornado hit one of her favorite Sioux Falls hangouts, The Rush. She takes us back to the night, and a quick stop to meet friends at the bar near 41st and Kiwanis, before heading home.
Karrissa Wahlert survived tornado at the rush
"Everyone kind of realized that the wind was picking up, and it was getting kind of crazy, so naturally everyone runs to the windows and let's go watch," said Wahlert.
Karissa grabbed her cell phone to record the storm outside and kept it on the storm, as it blasted through windows and bared down on the ceiling.
"My first thought was to get away from the windows. So I ran back and was hiding back behind the machines, I realized the ceiling was coming down and I have nothing covering my head," said Wahlert.
People were calling out for missing friends, others were screaming for help, while staff did their best to get patrons inside the cooler for safety. Karissa made it from one end of the bar to the cooler on the other side and waited through with the others.
As the door swung open, everyone knew it would be a dangerous obstacle course to get out safely.
"Even at that point the power was still on, and there were cords hanging everywhere, it's raining through the lights and we're standing in water and we're like, we can't be in here, it's dangerous still you know," said Wahlert.
With the storm still raging outside and nowhere to go, the red flashing lights of an arriving fire truck were a beacon of hope as they stood silently and waited for crews to get them out. Others in The Rush that night are supporting each other and helping process what they experienced. "There's tears. You're grateful things weren't worse, but at the same time, you went through it," said Wahlert.
Surviving this life or death situation has brought a new awareness for this Sioux Falls woman, to keep track of the weather and know where to find shelter.