Woman recounts experience of driving through storm

Rick Rogers

Shael Schnackenberg was caught in the middle of the severe storm that hit Neosho on Monday.

She said she was driving her SUV north of Business Highway 71 when hail started to fall.

Having trouble seeing the road, Schnackenberg  decided to pull over in the Pump N’ Pantry parking lot to seek shelter.

But before she reached the gas station, the storm hit hard, rocking her SUV back and forth. A tree zipped in front of her car, she said, and then another tree crashed through the driver’s side back window, spreading glass around in the car.

Schnackenberg, who resides in Granby with her husband, Steve, a teacher in the Neosho R-5 School District, and their two children, managed to keep control of the car, and pull into the gas station parking lot.

That’s when she witnessed the convenience store collapse.

“It just went crazy,” Schnackenberg said. “Things started swirling all around  me. I just wanted out of there. Right when I finally got under the awning of the gas station, a big piece of it fell and hit the roof of my car. It was insane. The building just went flat. It didn’t look like it exploded, just all of the sudden it just went flat. It was like somebody had let all the air out.”

The six people in the convenience store at the time of the storm were all OK, with some suffering injuries.

Schnackenberg said it is a miracle those in the store came out alive.

“I thought those people were dead,” Schnackenberg said. “People were there just pulling people out, dragging them out by their arms. It is a miracle they are all out.”

Her 7-week-old nephew, Boston, was in the back seat behind the passenger’s seat, and suffered small cuts.

Another child who Schnackenberg watches during the day would have been sitting in the back seat where the tree crashed through the window had it not been for Schnackenberg dropping her off at home near the Neosho Recreation Center right before the storm.

“I was so scared,” Schnackenberg said. “I was trying to get back to the baby to see how bad he was. Then, an EMS guy opened the door and got some tape to get the glass off of the baby’s face.

“There was no warning of the storm. Nothing. I didn’t have the radio on, so I know no sirens went off.”

Neosho Daily News