Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 10th Tornado Devastation

Well, I had to beg my boss to let me off early. Thanks Kevin and Joshua. I left at 3 and busted @$$ north on 75 to catch a Supercell already in progress. Well, by the time i got to it, it had weakened, and a storm ahead of it had strengthened. It was an HP mess, so I tried to intercept the storm that had just started rotating S of the HP mess. I met the storm near Chetopa. There was a confirmed large tornado on the ground just S of Chetopa. I was just W of Chetopa and I couldn't see it. I could have made it, but my S option was flooded by storms earlier this week. So I kept pushing E behind the now right turning storm. I needed to drop S ASAP. I made it to Baxter Springs and decided to hit 44 to get ahead of the storm, and drop S again to intercept near Seneca. Well, as I neared Seneca, it was obvious my chase was over. The storm was screaming SE at 60mph and there was extreme tornado damage in the towns of Seneca, Racine, and Neosho, MO. I came upon a small community of residential victims, most of which had minor injuries. I made sure they had help on the way, and tried to keep going. About 1/4 of a mile further, I came into a valley with homes that were once big and beautiful, completely demolished. Cars thrown around like toys. The hillside was scoured clean of grass and trees, and littered with the belongings of those who lived nearby. It was a war-zone. I came upon more victims who had ridden the beast out in a small van. Luckily, they were next to a small ridge and the worst winds jumped right over them, but a large tree branch landed right on the front windshield, smashing the front 1/2 of the van. 4 of the 5 occupants were fine and only sustained minor injurys, but the driver had major bleeding from a gash on his head. there were ambulances on the way, but they were having trouble getting past downed trees and powerlines, so I told him and one of his friends to get in the Tahoe. I tried to get them to Neosho, but there was major damage all the way there, so I decided to run them up to Joplin. I had to drive through trees to get through the damage. The 911 dispatcher was very helpful and gave me directions to Freeman Hospital in Joplin, MO. The young guy with the head injury kept asking where we were and if his wife and kids were ok. Luckily, their house was about 1/2 mile from the damage path, and they were fine. I dropped them at the hospital, and told the nurses to get ready for a busy night due to a large damaging tornado 10 miles S of them. We were the first tornado victims there. I went back to where I picked them up to let the other victims what hospital he was at and see if they were all ok. They had rides on the way and thanked me. I shot some damage video for about an hour at the mercy of the local Sherriffs. I was in tears pretty much the whole time. It unbelievable how fast it all happened. One minute you're driving to a church buddies house for dinner and the next theres grapefruit sized hail smashing your windows as a mile wide F3 tornado barrels into you and drops a 100 year old tree on your car. Its all very surreal. The whole thing hasn't really sunk in yet. I must have been in the zone or something because it was all just a blur.

Overall a terrible day. Many, many fatalities from this storm, and others as this system spawned tornadoes from KS all the way through SC and GA. My prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims.

407 miles. I've decided to take some first responder classes and some emergency management training classes. I don't like the feeling of seeing people in need and not being able to help.

5 comments:

Lanny said...

Mike...got my "new" blog up, can you update your links for it?
http://lannydean.blogspot.com/

Thanks Lanny

DM said...

Scantlin,

I know exactly how you feel, and you did a "beyond the call of duty" job on saving that army sergeant's life.

All of these yahoos out here saving people's lives, while the elite assholes are trying to run into a tornado on Good Morning America. It's not so bad to be a yahoo these days!

Michael said...

Good job, Mike. Keep up the good work.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Hey Bro! You have been wanting to chase tornandos since you were five years old! I am glad to see you are living your passion because that passion is what makes heros! Awesome Mike! Luv you and I am proud of you!

Big Sis Amanda