The deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair was a wake up call for many and raised awareness about public safety at public events during severe weather. Some Tri-Staters are criticizing the Ford Center, for not alerting guests about the tornado warning during Saturday's Monster Jam show. But Ford Center officials defend their decisions, saying they had an emergency plan in place.
Amidst the roar of the monster trucks at Saturday's Monster Jam, there was another roar outside the Ford Center. People packed the Ford Center, when severe weather moved in. At 3:49 P.M. a tornado warning was issued for Evansville. At 4:15, the National Weather Service issued this statement: "Those attending the monster truck rally at the Ford Center should be prepared to seek shelter immediately."
"Yeah, the warning came out at 3:49, and then they always follow up tornado warnings with updates about every 5-10 minutes and in those updates, three times they referenced the Monster Truck rally at the Ford Center and they were on the ball. This is somebody sitting down in Paducah, KY that was aware of that event at the Ford Center in Evansville," Chief Meteorologist Wayne Hart said.
"At that point, we started watching the news. We get with emergency personnel, find out what information they have and then you continue to assess to see the degree of the warning and what's exactly happening in the area," Scott Schoenike said.
Some event goers complained on Facebook saying they were worried because they didn't get a warning about what was going on outside. Many friends and family members called their loved ones to tell them about the threat.
Ford Center Executive Director, Scott Schoenike says if a tornado was spotted, they would stop the show, make a public announcement, and move people to a safe location. Ford Center officials say the safest place is the inner concourse here on the first floor. It's surrounded by concrete and away from all the glass.
Schoenike says about 700 people stayed after the Monster Jam show and waited for the storm to pass through.
"Well I've been through a number of actual disasters and the biggest thing you need to do is keep assessing the situation and changing your plan as it's happening and so we take it seriously," Schoenike said.
Schoenike says while officials monitor the weather, it's important to keep calm and not cause any panic.
Ford Center officials say they had their TV's on the weather coverage Saturday. They add, they train with management and guest services for emergency situations.