Exxon gas station debris fell inches away from woman

Posted at 9:59 PM, May 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-23 00:17:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) --A strong storm caused part of a canopy at the Exxon gas station located at the corner of N. 17th Street and E. Broad St. in Shockoe Bottom to fall on two cars Thursday afternoon.

Yolanda Smith was inside of one of those cars and told CBS 6 the experience was terrifying.

“It was inches from falling on my head,” Smith said.

Smith pulled into the gas station to escape from the pounding rain and hail, and planned to wait out the storm under the station’s canopy.

But, suddenly debris from a collapsed gutter on the canopy fell onto her car, practically at the same time her phone started buzzing with a tornado warning.

“I thought the tornado touched down right on my car,” Smith said.

Across town on the Northside, windows shattered at a Napa Auto Parts store in the 1600 block of Chamberlayne Avenue.

“All hell was breaking loose,” an assistant manager at the store told CBS 6.

Employees at the store moved to the back of the building moments before the windows were smashed by wind.

“If we had been in the store in the front, we would have been hurt,” the assistant manager said.

Both terrifying experiences for members of our Richmond family who said the storm left them thankful to be alive.

“We were lucky,” the assistant manager said.

“That was like a brush with death right there,” Smith said.