Wadena tornado victims relive storm in 'Tornado Alley'

5:33 PM, Nov 18, 2012   |    comments
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SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Some of the most dramatic video in the new "Tornado Alley" Omni Theater film was shot in and around Wadena.

That's where tornadoes swept through on June 17th, 2010, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Residents of that part of Otter Tail County recently got a special invitation to see the film.

The Science Museum of Minnesota invited them to see it Saturday for free.

Two years ago when the tornadoes hit, Otter Tail County residents scrambled for shelter twice.

Wadena resident Barb Schertler said, "I went upstairs to look outside and it was the ishy-est green you ever saw.  So I turned around and went back down in the basement."

It was two EF4 tornados that touched down in one in Almora and the other in Wadena.

Residents, like Vernell Roberts, felt one.  He said, "It's pretty violent, like a 747 landing in your back yard."

But many people didn't actually see the tornadoes because they had sought shelter.

So Saturday it was time for a new perspective.

About fifty Wadena and Otter Tail County residents took a bus trip to the Science Museum to see the IMAX film Tornado Alley.  The trip was coordinated by Mid Central Federal Savings Bank in Wadena.

Bea Christianson, sought shelter in a McDonald's cooler the day of the storm.  Right before seeing the film Saturday she said that she'd "Probably start bawling.  I guess I really don't know what to expect."

While the name of their city is never mentioned, the movie has footage, caught by storm chasers, of their storm, including footage of the winds as they blew through town and the destruction afterward.

As for shots of actual tornadoes, it was hard to distinguish which were of those that hit Otter Tail County.  But Science Museum officials say footage of a multi vortex tornado was one as was footage of a tornado from which the storm chasers fled in their special Tornado Intercept Vehicle.

After the film ended, some admitted, they got choked up.

Roberts said, "Especially at the beginning and the houses they showed were from Wadena.  It was tough to see but we made it."

He and his wife Sharon Roberts lost part of their home to the storm.  She said during the film, "I had to keep reminding myself just to breathe."

Christianson said, "To me, it was scary"

A couple people who signed up for the trip, backed out at the last minute fearing the experience would be too emotional.

But it was clear, that their storm was much better experienced from a movie theater seat than from their basements like they experienced it the first time around.

Schertler said, "At least you could see what happened when you weren't scared." 

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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