University evacuates people to safety locations due to Evansville tornado

Students+sit+in+the+basement+of+University+Center+East+after+being+evacuated+during+the+tornado+warning+at+12%3A30+on+Friday.

Photo by Ian Young

Students sit in the basement of University Center East after being evacuated during the tornado warning at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Shield Staff

3:20 p.m. Update: Damage reported around the Evansville community by EvansvilleWatch includes closed roads, lights down on Green River Rd. and the roof being lifted off of St. Joe Church on West St. Joseph Rd.


Thunder pounds, the ceiling shakes and water drips in the basement of University Center East as students, faculty and staff were evacuated to the basement around 12:25 p.m. due to the national tornado warning issued around 12:20 p.m. Friday. 

People in all campus buildings were moved to safe locations inside their buildings by around 12:30 p.m. Friday. Individuals stayed in their safe locations until around 1 p.m. Friday when the tornado warning was lifted. 

Wind gusts of over 90 mph were reported around 1 p.m. by Tristate Wx. EvansvilleWatch reported the tornado touched down “to the NW of Evansville near Diamond & Big Cynthiana area.”

Emily Campbell, freshman nursing major, and Timothy Rosignol, freshman German and sociology major, said they were outside Chick-fil-A in University Center West when the RAVE alert about the tornado warning was issued. 

“Everyone knew that it was kind of serious when Chick-fil-A closed their gate,” Rosignol said. 

Campbell and Rosignol said they decided to walk over to the basement of University Center East to take shelter along with other students, Sodexo employees, faculty and staff. 

“Honestly, we left immediately,” Campbell said. “There were other faculty in this side of UC that were starting to direct people away from the windows.” 

Everyone knew that it was kind of serious when Chick-fil-A closed their gate.”

— Timothy Rosignol, freshman German and sociology major

All of the offices and food areas in University Center East were evacuated to the basement of University Center East around 12:25 p.m. Friday, including the Multicultural Office, Dean of Students Office, Center for Campus Life and the dining areas outside Mein Bowl and Mr. Beast Burger. 

“This is fun,” said Jada Hogg, outreach coordinator of the Multicultural Center and student mentor. “I think it’s a wonderful way to go to break. Unfortunately, I think there’s some last-minute things that people had on their desk that they were hoping to get done. Hope it doesn’t last too long,  but it gives us another opportunity to see each other and to wish our students well before the spring break happened, so it’s kind of exciting.”

Students sit and continue to work after being evacuated around 12:25 p.m. Friday to the University Center East basement.
Students sit and continue to work after being evacuated around 12:25 p.m. Friday to the University Center East basement. (Photo by Emalee Jones)

“I think it’s a little overkill,” said Haiden Hart, freshman business communications major. “But it shows they care, so that’s cool.” 

Mya Johnson, junior psychology major, was working in the campus store when everyone was ordered to evacuate downstairs. The basement in University Center West was full, and she was forced to take shelter in the University Center East basement. 

“There were a lot of adults that kind of stepped in,” Johnson said. “It was like, ‘Everyone needs to get downstairs. This is serious.’ So they pretty much just had everyone get together.”

Allison Tieken, freshman psychology major, was not concerned about the tornado warning until she saw people going to the basement. 

“I was like, ‘I’ll be fine,’” Tieken said. “And then everyone else started moving. So, I was like, ‘I probably should.’” 

She has work in the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center this afternoon, but she does not think she’ll go to work. 

There were a lot of adults that kind of stepped in. It was like, ‘Everyone needs to get downstairs. This is serious.’ So they pretty much just had everyone get together. ”

— Mya Johnson, junior psychology major

“I think they should close it,” she said. “But they won’t close unless the campus closes.” 

Nancy Langley, senior library assistant for the David L. Rice Library, said around 12:45 p.m. “Everybody has been sent to the basement.”   

Paris Fithian, senior art major, works in the David L. Rice Library. Fithian said, “Just vibin’ in the basement.”

Students continue to play pool after other students and faculty were evacuated around 12:15 p.m. to the University Center East basement Friday. (Photo by Emalee Jones)
Students continue to play pool after other students and faculty were evacuated around 12:15 p.m. to the University Center East basement Friday. (Photo by Emalee Jones)

Derrick Thompson, junior civil engineering major, said that his engineering economic class continued despite the tornado warning. 

“Kind of just got brought up and dismissed very quickly,” Thompson said. “I was pretty indifferent to it. I just figured I’m already in a building, not really going anywhere right now. I was just like, ‘Well, I guess we’ll finish class, and I’ll figure things out later.’” 

Makana Grabel, freshmen exercise science major, said, “My sister and I are driving on I-69 right now and cars are pulled over. Don’t leave right now guys!”

The tornado warning was lifted around 1 p.m. Friday. Public Safety staff around 1:15 p.m. Friday said there were no injuries reported, but damage reported across campus was being evaluated by Public Safety staff.

Damage reported around the Evansville community by EvansvilleWatch includes closed roads, lights down on Green River Rd. and the roof being lifted off of St. Joe Church on West St. Joseph Rd.