Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reading Kansas, One Year Ago

It is so hard to believe that it has been a year since disaster visited our own back yard....

Not to take away from Joplin, and the events down there, I included a video I edited of a show my colleagues put on as a benefit for Joplin victims, and the Alcott Arts Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
A year ago I was storm chasing one late Saturday evening.  I got a call from my boss that he needed me in early Sunday Morning to go down to a small town in Kansas that got nailed by a tornado.  Here is an archive of the blog I posted about that time...

I checked in with the desk and found that we planned on revisiting Reading, Kansas.  I asked if I could do that story, and the desk person, Sam, said ok, thankfully.  It is hard to believe that a year ago today the forgettable severe weather season of 2011 visited our own backyard with the same wrath it had been spreading elsewhere in the country.

- 2012/05/21 Monday 16:59:25
Reading Grain and Lumber Inc
121 Franklin Street, Reading, KS 66868
We came to Reading and checked in here first.  Within a year they have rebuilt.  Everything is new.  The family that owns and runs this establishment is really nice.  Last year reciepts and paperwork from this business which was hard hit by the tornado were found as far north as Olathe, Kansas.

Reading Kansas

- 2012/05/21 Monday 17:00:05
Miracle Cafe
103 Franklin Street, Reading, KS 66868
I remember last year the owner stoically talking with the press.  She had just lost everything.  It was obvious to all of us that she loves her small town and is here to stay.  Today she is in a completely new rebuilt restaurant.  It is sad that the old house had to go.  She saved a lot of the trim and other things that she could from the old cafe.  The town has shrunk a little from last year, but most people in this town have rebuilt and are sticking it out.

The events in Reading, Kansas were quickly overshadowed by the events in Joplin, Missouri.  It is unfortunate, but understandable given the relative scale of both disasters.  However, when you are personally affected by catastrophe, your scope of understanding is limited by your need for survival and the desire to carry on.  In a year, Reading, Kansas has carried on.

The View From the Horizon
There was a prediction of severe weather for that day.  Weather the night before had looked more promising for storm chasers.  I was yearning to chase, not to be looking at damage behind the front.  Storms started lighting up east of Kansas City, and a lot of chasers were out in that area.  I was watching the storms on the horizon grow and develop to the east.  They looked pretty serious.

  Poor cell service due, probably, to power being knocked out in the area meant that I could not watch any radar on my computer or phone, so I had to settle with pictures of fleeting clouds on the horizon.
Bad News Drive Home
Having accomplished our work on this long day, we headed back up I-35 towards home.  Our day was over, we thought.
The angry clouds on the horizon were receeding into the blue sky.  I even toyed with the idea of chasing east.

Videos courtesy of the Weather Channel and YouTube 

I was too tired for that.  My wife, Anasuya, was at her work on call.  She had the TV on in the lab.  I got a phone call from her.  She sounded a bit frantic.  She told me that she happened to be watching the Weather Channel  and that they were reporting that a tornado had just wiped out Joplin, Missouri.  She told me I needed to watch it.  It was kind of hard for me doing 75 on the highway.  She said that Mike Bettes was livestreaming everything and was first on the scene and they were calling for mass casualties.  It sounded bad.  I called the news room and talked to a producer.  I told her they should turn on the Weather Channel as something was going on there.  I hung up, and got another call from my wife, this one more breathless and scared sounding than the one before.  I called the station back, by this time they were aware of what was happening and were calling in the whole staff to head south.  Thus began a long week for everyone.  When we got back home to Kansas City, It was sunny and warm -- a perfect day really.
My Tracks from a year ago....
My Tracks Today

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