Roofers working on Fairgrounds Grandstand come face to face with tornado

Posted at 11:22 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 23:22:17-04

As Thursday's tornados ran through parts of Western New York, the strongest twister (reaching more than 100 miles per hour) tore a path through the Hamburg Fairgrounds. Sahlems Roofing Company was at the Grandstand doing repairs when the tornado began to head towards them. 

"We could see it coming from a distance and thought it would just be bad rain" roofer Seth Ferington said. 

The roofers realized they were in serious trouble when the wind began to pick up. 

"We see (the tornado) spinning faster and faster and then the rain hit us," Corey Barnes, who was on the roof at the time, explained, "then the stones started pelting us so we hid in a van."

The van was the closest form of shelter that the roofers could find. Six of them were packed into the back of it when the tornado was right on them. 

"We all braced ourselves inside the van and the van just started shaking back and forth and back" Barnes said. 

The winds were so intense that they couldn't even close the doors of the van, which left them almost completely exposed. 

"All of our buddies tried closing the door and they wouldn't close because of how extreme the wind was" Barnes continued. 

Barnes and Ferington felt the shaking last for almost twenty minutes before it passed. Once it finished they weren't really sure what had happened. 

"They were calling for rain mid to later in the day," Ferington said, "but we were never expecting a tornado to touch down."

Damage from the tornado included broken car windows and parts of the Grandstand roof being pulled off the top. 

When Ferington looked back on the tornado, hes just glad that he was safe. 

"I am very thankful for being here and being alive."