Illinois man video-records tornado hitting his house, survives against all odds

Against all odds, Clem Schultz somehow survived a direct tornado strike on his Fairdale, Illinois home, while video-recording the storm. His video (above), while dramatic, provides a poor example. He needlessly decreased his chances of survival.

A story in the Arlington Heights, Illinois “Daily Herald” hints that Mr. Schultz was aware of a tornado warning and indicates that he did not believe the tornado would strike his village. It indicates that “there was no time for the 85-year-old to hurry back downstairs to the kitchen” where his wife was.

From the the first video frame in which we see the tornado, however, until the frame in which the utility pole begins to fall, nearly two minutes elapse. That should have been plenty of time for everyone in the house to seek shelter. The National Weather Service’s tornado warning provided the Schultzes even more time. It was issued 14 minutes before the tornado hit the village.

“There was no point in getting in the cellar,” the “Daily Herald” story continues, “which was basically a hole barely big enough to hold their furnace.”

Unfortunately, Mrs. Schultz did not survive, becoming one of the storm’s two deaths.

We’ll never know whether the outcome would have been different had Schultz and his wife gone to the safest place that their house afforded as soon as the NWS first issued the tornado warning. If there was no room for them in the furnace cellar, that might have meant going to the most interior room on the first floor, as experts routinely advise.

Sometimes people die, even when they follow expert tornado survival advice. But the sensible thing to do is to put the odds in your favor. When a tornado warning includes your home, take shelter as best you can.

Don’t gamble with your life by following follow Schultz’ example. Give yourself the best possible chance of survival.

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