COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - Andrea Smith and Christi Alford were at work December 23 when an EF-3 tornado ripped through Columbia.
"It just got really, really black outside so I walked to the door and then the wind started blowing and tried to blow the door out of my hand," said Smith, manager at American Cash Advance.
Surveillance video inside the business captures Smith shutting the door and then running toward the back of the building.
"We turned around and looked and the windows just blew out," said Alford, district manager at American Cash Advance. "We ran and got on our knees in the bathroom and started praying."
Video shows the glass window shattering and the roof caving in.
"I thought that we were going to die," said Alford. "I thought the building was going to fall in and you know we would die."
Both American Cash Advance employees said they're lucky to be alive.
"All of the businesses stepped out and they all helped each other," said Alford. "They came around asked if we were okay, gave us tarps to cover our cars with, they pulled together."
Aside from surviving the storm, they learned a valuable lesson.
"Just pay more attention to the weather warnings on my phone from now on and once it starts going off immediately try to get somewhere and not wait to the last minute," said Smith.
Both employees are still working inside the damaged building. They expect repairs to begin soon.