The woman behind the video showing the damage wrought by Friday's tornado has spoken to our colleagues at 5Minutes about what exactly happened in the terrifying moment her family saw the tornado pass by.
The video has gone viral throughout Europe, showing the scenes of the tornado, and the woman who filmed the video has provided more details on what exactly happened.
On Friday just before 6pm, the municipalities of Bascharage and Pétange were facing high amounts of wind before the unexpected struck. Manuela Galvez was about to prepare dinner as the storm began unfolding. In the middle of the storm, something caught Galvez's eye and she called her husband to ask him to come have a look. As Galvez told 5Minutes, she didn't understand what exactly was happened.
At that point, Galvez decided she would film with her mobile phone, standing at the window and seemingly unaware of the danger. Eventually, her son intervened and forced her to get away from the window. Afterwards, Galvez told 5Minutes, everything went very quickly. She joined her grandchildren in the lit hallway, and then she, her husband, and her son closed all the windows. Then, the family took shelter to await the end of the storm.
"Worse than in a film"
As for what happened after the tornado had passed, Galvez only spoke of her neighbour's reaction: "She came to me in tears, saying everything had been destroyed. I hadn't even realised what had happened, I thought it was an explosion." Galvez likening the tornado to an explosion certainly speaks volumes about the violent destruction.
Then, the calm after the storm came by. The wind gusts dropped as quickly as they'd formed, leaving only devastation and destruction as evidence. Like many others on Friday, the family got up to evaluate the damage.
Galvez said it was worse than in a film, "the roof had been torn off, our bathroom was destroyed, as was our bedroom, and the windows had shattered. Only the first floor escaped the damage. The windows had been damaged but only on the outside, as they were double glazed."
The family left the apartment that evening and initially went to a restaurant promising pizzas to those affected, although the pizzas never came. Then, the family got on a bus at 11pm to be taken to temporary lodgings at the Gulliver hotel in Bascharage.
Galvez said she was able to return to her home the day after the catastrophe, explaining that the family wanted to evaluate the extent of the damage. Firefighters allowed them to go have a look.
The damage was overwhelming, ranging from broken windows to the torn-off roof and the bathroom ceiling risking collapse. The family head didn't know where to start, but thankfully solidarity came in waves after the tornado.
She explained how firefighters, municipal employees, neighbours, and neighbours' neighbours all chipped in to help victims. People even came from Germany, the Netherlands, and France to help their families. Galvez had special praise dedicated to one person in particular: "The mayor's wife is exceptional. She called us and assured us everything would be fine. She's truly wonderful."
Thus began a long back-and-forth between the hotel and the apartment. Clearing work, the insurers' visit, cleaning, and the accumulated stress all meant that Galvez and her family hadn't slept for three days.
Social media criticism
As is often the case in these situations, when videos go viral, people on social media react - and not always kindly. Coupled with her insomnia, Galvez was trying not to read judgements online. She said: "My husband kept on repeating that I shouldn't read the comments, but some people are really cruel."
Criticism coming from social media users came from all angles: they slammed the grandmother for staying by the window, for not focusing on getting the children in safety, and for filming instead of taking cover.
"I'm definitely aware that it was stupid staying by the window," she explained, "But at the same time, who would have predicted a tornado hitting Luxembourg?"
As for the criticism about the children, she provided further details: "My son had just collected them from the creche and they were in the hallway safe. I was alone in the kitchen with my husband when the tornado hit."
Already in a complicated situation, Galvez explained that the bad news was multiplying. Both she and her husband are ill, and seven of them live in the apartment. They're due to return on Wednesday, the apartment will be cold, and bees have apparently made it their home. As the victim of the tornado said, "It just doesn't seem to stop."
Whilst the roof has since been sealed with tarpaulins and wooden beams, the situation remains precarious. Galvez plans to go to the municipal council's meeting scheduled at 8pm on Tuesday, where insurers will be present, and discuss the issues that remain to be resolved.