Hail, Rain, Wind, and Twisters
By Cait Collins
Tuesday evening, May 28, 2013, I finished my blog and posted it. Shortly afterwards, I received a phone call from my company’s emergency employee notification system stating winds had downed power lines and knocked out windows at our Osage campus. Crews had restored power, but debris remained. We were to use extreme caution when driving to work on Wednesday.
Conditions worsened as the evening progressed. Tornado warnings were posted, and I ran across the apartment complex parking lot to shelter in with my sister and her upstairs neighbor. We settled the neighbor and her two children in the laundry room, and then Janet and I took refuge in her smaller bathroom. We spent the next hour or so huddled beneath pillows and blankets in the bathtub watching the radar on her SmartPhone. Sirens blared; storm spotters reported a tornado at 45th and Soncy moving east. It did not remain on the ground for an extended period. The storm system that entered the city’s west side turned north and east and moved into the downtown area. It weakened as it moved out of Amarillo. Shortly after midnight, the all clear was sounded, and we crawled out of our shelter.
Amarillo had survived, but not unscathed. Hail and high winds damaged property across the city. The Insurance Council of Texas estimated insured losses at about $400 million. No lives were lost and injuries were minor.
All of our television and radio news departments did a good job keeping citizens informed regarding conditions. No doubt the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, created a sense of urgency and appropriate response to the warnings. I appreciate every broadcaster and spotter who manned a post. They did their jobs well. That said, I must admit it was the “Voice” at KGNC Radio that grounded me. Once we sheltered in, we could no longer hear the television reports. Janet’s radio kept cutting out, so I suggested KGNC. I think I recognized the voice behind the microphone, but I’m not 100% sure. He reported the weather conditions, the National Weather Service recommendations, and damage reports with just the right mix of urgency, concern, and humanity. His calm demeanor was what I needed during those tense moments. While I was frightened, I was not panicked. Instead I was reassured. I want to commend KGNC manager, Brice Edwards, and his staff for a job well done.
KGNC has been a friend to Panhandle Professional Writers for a number of years. They have welcomed us on their morning talk shows to promote conferences, writing contests, fund raisers, and special events. It was good to know they and their fellow broadcasters had our backs during the crisis.