Woman hid in Starbucks bathroom during “terrifying” storm

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LEBANON – A possible tornado damaged dozens of homes and businesses and displaced five people in Lebanon Sunday.

As of 8 p.m., the Lebanon Police Department reported 26 homes, three large warehouse buildings and several businesses were damaged. At least seven homes have been deemed non-livable. Police also reported a gas leak at a warehouse on Enterprise Drive. Two people suffered non-life threatening injuries when a semi flipped near Lebanon.

The Starbucks on 1377 S. Lebanon St. had some of the most visible damage. Strong winds tossed a car into the building, the windows of the shop were blown out, and pieces of insulation were scattered all over a nearby parking lot and field.

Elizabeth MacDougald of Chicago was inside the coffee shop when the storm cell came through.

“I was looking out the front window of the Starbucks and I saw this kind of weird ‘V’ cloud shape and then… my eyes kind of tracked down and that’s when the debris started to kick up just like you see in the movies,” she recalled. “You start to see the wood and the corn stalks and that’s when I was on the phone with my mom and I said ‘Uh, Mom, I gotta go!'”

She said the Starbucks’ staff started to scream for all the customers to “Get in the bathroom!” so everyone huddled inside the men’s and women’s restrooms for cover.

MacDougald called the experience terrifying.

“The lights went out and then you hear the freight train and then my ears popped and then the glass shattered,” she continued. “Our car was parked right next to the car that’s currently sitting on its side.”

The feeling when she walked out and saw what she survived was indescribable.

“Huge sigh of ‘Oh my God, I’m alive. Holy cow.”

MacDougald, the other customers and Starbucks’ staff were not hurt.

Work continued at the Starbucks property and nearby businesses Sunday night.

Hattie B. Stokes Elementary on 1005 E. Hendricks Dr. will serve as a shelter for the displaced, however law enforcement officials report all the victims are staying with family and friends.

Meridian and East streets are closed for the night. State Road 39 is officially open now.