Building demolished near Stanton

A building across the road from Maskenthine Lake near Stanton was reduced to debris after a tornado ripped through the area on Monday afternoon.

Darin Schneider thought it was a perfect day for fishing on Maskenthine Lake near Stanton.

A phone call from his wife, a sudden ominous quiet and the appearance of rolling dark clouds changed all that.

"It was blue skies," Schneider said. "Then my wife called, and 10 seconds later, everything went quiet."

The Stanton resident was fishing Monday evening near a bridge at the lake, where he quickly took shelter.

As he wrapped his arms and legs around a steel beam, the tornado swept through the area.

 "It picked up my lower torso when it came through," he said. "But I gripped my legs back to the beam and got my bearings."

Schneider was all alone on the lake, but he said it was a good thing no one else was with him and that he was close to shelter.

"I was scared as hell," he said. "But if I wasn't near the bridge, and I tried to make a mad dash for safety, I wouldn't have made it."

Schneider said being inside of the tornado felt like forever. But 30 seconds later, it was gone.

He looked around and saw only the devastation that the tornado left in its path.

"I saw everything going up, trees, power lines," Schneider said. "It's all still sinking in."

Trees, power lines and houses along the west edge of Stanton also were knocked over or destroyed by the storm, said Todd Jochum of the Stanton Fire Department.

Jochum pulled his team together with the Norfolk Fire Division and surrounding communities to respond to rescue calls.

"We've been working this area, checking for damage and seeing what's going on," he said Monday evening. "It's pretty similar to last year in Wayne when communities everywhere came to help."

The tornado had two paths of destruction, he said. It hit first outside downtown Stanton. Downtown Pilger wasn't as lucky, though, and it was caught in the second path.

"Pilger is in bad shape, and it went right through the middle of town," Jochum said.

Once rescue calls from Stanton were taken care of, Jochum and his team shifted their focus to Pilger.