Survivors of Pontiac tornado speak out: 'It was the scariest thing'

The tornado that hit Pontiac, Illinois was confirmed to be an E-F2. It was on the ground for 11 miles with winds of up to 125 miles per hour.

"It was the scariest thing I've ever been through,” said Danny Wood.

Wood was released from the hospital Thursday with eight stitches, a dislocated shoulder and bruised ribs.

The tornado blew his mobile trailer 100 feet into a cornfield. Wood was inside when the storm hit. He says he covered his six year old son with a mattress and prayed.

"It just started rolling. We were getting smashed with debris. Had stuff roll all over us. We just flipped and flipped and flipped until it stopped. And then I realized we were out in the rain in a cornfield, kind of dazed and confused,” Wood said.

Pauline Ray lives just around the corner in the mobile home park.

"That was the loudest noise I've ever heard. And my trailer shook. And I thought we were done,” Ray said.

"Right now we're basically in recovery mode and rebuilding mode,” said Major Dan Davis of the Pontiac police.

Pontiac police say four residents were injured when the tornado hit around 10:30 Wednesday night, causing major damage to a pair of gas stations right off the I-55 exit.

Michelle Matusiak was driving from Springfield to her home in Elk Grove Village when she saw the storm approaching and sought refuge at the shell station, barricading herself in a bathroom.

"The building was shaking. I was really scared. I was trying to keep calm and it just sounded like a crazy amount of wind,” she said.

After slamming into the trailer park, the tornado continued in a southwest direction, missing by just a few hundred feet one of the state's largest prisons, the Pontiact Correctional Center.
Police say the storm grazed the outskirts of Pontiac, which is a city of 12-thousand.

A more direct hit could have been catastrophic.

"Had the path been more of a direct route through town we could have seen significantly more damage in terms of quantity and severity,” Davis said.