Go Behind the Scenes in the Radio Studio During the Big Storm
As the severe weather rolled through Central Texas on Memorial Day, I found myself at the studio trying to keep the public informed. I was also building a "shelter" under the studio counter for my 7-year-old son.
I felt like so many cliche movies where someone will complain about the goings-on by pointing out, "I'm not even supposed to be here today". I spent the first part of my "day off" at a remote broadcast at Dodge Country Used Cars. The whole time I was there I kept an eye on the incoming weather. There were enough close lightning strikes that I decided to move my party indoors for peace of mind.
After wrapping up the remote, I met up with Julia Conner to give her the station vehicle and pick up my truck which I'd swapped out prior to the remote. She was going to do a remote that afternoon, so once she had what she needed, it was a race to get home before the bad weather moved in. I wasn't planning on going back to the station.
As I drove from Killeen to Temple, I could see that things were deteriorating fast, and I watched what I swore was a rain-wrapped tornado just north & west of Temple. I got to the house and immediately got bombarded with my two wife, two sons & two dogs wondering if we should take shelter. I checked things out the best I could to make sure there was no immediate danger at the house.
What was thought to be a tornado was moving through Temple, with the very southern edge of the hook echo tipping our neighborhood. I took a survey of who wanted to come to the radio station to start live coverage to keep people safe, and Logan was the only one that was too scared to stay at home.
As I drove to the station I got all hands on deck, calling everyone that would be needed to provide live updates. Once I got to work, I was hit with two tasks. Task 1 was getting the public up to date on the current situation and switch to live coverage from our news partners at KWTX. Task 1-A was getting Logan a mini-shelter built.
As I made my way around the building Logan got the supplies he thought we'd need if a tornado hit us. He was evidently very thirsty. I spent the next 90 minutes monitoring our coverage, and a big "thank you" goes out once again to Rusty Garrett & the entire crew at KWTX for their amazing coverage. I feel they do a great job of informing and warning without panicking the public. Some, and I'm not even saying it happens locally, like to freak people out to get those May sweeps numbers up.
I can't say too much to my youngster, Logan, about his reaction to yesterday's weather. I was a weather nerd when I was a kid. I'd watch the Weather Channel for hours on end. Keep in mind that this was the late 80s and there wasn't much besides MTV & the Weather Channel on cable that interested me.
Because I was a weather nerd, I was also one to overreact. The same deal goes for Logan. He heard that things were going to get bad, saw on TV when things were getting bad, and he has Chicken Littles for a mom & brother that get him amped up and worried. He wouldn't even go to the restroom at the radio station without me being IN the restroom IN the stall with him.
That's not to say Monday's storms weren't devastating. Families in the Central Texas area lost everything due to a tornado that hit the ground in Pettibone, including one lost life. The weather eventually moved to the east and we sent the stations back to the music. That meant Logan and his many bottles of water could leave the makeshift shelter and emerge back into the world.