Marathon Refinery worker describes being caught in the EF-1 tornado

Published: May. 28, 2014 at 9:13 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GARYVILLE, LA (WVUE) - A nightshift worker at the Marathon Refinery in Garyville found himself caught in the middle of a EF-1 tornado Wednesday.

"There was no sign that it was going to do anything of the sort," said Brenden Johnson.

Johnson will always remember just how dangerous an EF-1 tornado can be.

"Just about every vehicle in there, all their windows are gone," said Johnson.

Just ending his shift at the Marathon refinery, Brenden Johnson said he was on a golf cart heading toward his truck - when everything changed.

"Everything got loud, everything got real dark and then the wind came," he said. "After that, it was grab anything you could grab ahold of and get low. I went from a golf cart, and when the golf cart blew away, I was holding on to a steel staircase and just waited for it to stop."

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ken Graham explained why Johnson had just a short time to realize a tornado was forming when he looked out at the early morning storm.

"In these situations, you get small spin-ups with the upper level low that's moving through the area now, and with that quick development," said Graham. "I'm talking nothing on the radar to a tornadic situation on the ground - and gone all in the matter of about four or five minutes."

The National Weather Service was able to send out a tornado warning for the area, but Johnson said he was worried about getting home.

"Then we find out that we can't leave the gate because everything's blown up or locked out or broken or blown down, and then you get to your truck after you've drove all the way around, and all of your windows are blown out," said Johnson.

Graham surveyed the damage hours later and found twisted metal strewn about in different directions across the grounds.

"We definitely had a tornado here," Graham said. "You can see the rotation with some of the tin blown one direction, and on the other side the tin blown different directions, so a lot of damage."

Across the Mississippi River, Graham said even at one of it's weakest points, when the tornado first touched down it was still able to damage the Edgard fire house.

"About a 150 yards wide and 105 mph is a pretty decent tornado for us," said Graham.

Follow FOX 8:    

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.