Lifesaver Storm Shelters and WeatherCall Save Lives
Tuesday afternoon, I had the honor of meeting two men who humbled me. I cannot tell you the emotion that fills me right now. I have tried to put it into cogent thought, but I simply cannot. So all I am left to do is write of my encounters with these men. These men represent hundreds. They would argue there is nothing special about them as individuals, but I must disagree. There is something deeply special about them both. I will never forget them. I will never forget the emotion. I will never forget their words and the power behind them. I will never forget how vastly different these two men are, yet living through two moments of the same tragedy has drawn them together through me, though they may never meet.
One lived in a large mobile home in Lawrence County, AL. He is a man of energy, life, and passion. His aura is one of scattered enthusiasm, and you are drawn to his beautiful energy. His smile is never ever far from his mouth, and makes yours appear immediately. When April 27, 2011, began, he saw flooding rains on his land like he had never seen. He took pictures of that rain. He shared with me those pictures. Of his home, hours before it became pure rubble. Hours before he ran from the tornado in a little truck that could as another behind his was swept off the road, the two occupants injured, but alive. WeatherCall gave him his warning. He gave that warning to his neighbors. He thanked me for it. I thanked him for trusting me. His neighbors trusted him. One helped another helped many. All survived because of a simple phone call on the business end of an amazing piece of technology. He is close with his family, and it was his family that helped him, just the same as he helped neighbors, strangers and those tied to him in tragedy. He lost almost everything he owned. But kept that which is most precious to those near him. He shared that precious gift with me today. I will never forget him. I will never forget his hug. His community of mobile homes pitched in for a 12-person shelter.
The next, a man who lives a life of service and humility. A man who saves lives every week he works in his ministry, bringing lost souls, children, and families together to find the love they have as the glue that holds their broken lives together. Some glue is stronger than others. But the glue he offers is deeply rooted in the blood of Christ, and that is evident from the first few moments you spend with him. He and his wife had a place to go underground in his storm shelter, his first major purchase after buying his Alabama home. He and his wife had that piece of mind. He received a series of calls that afternoon, as did his predecessor, that alerted him to the inanimate soul-less deliverer of disaster to hundreds before him, and hundreds after. His words were equally as impactful. His generosity to share his story as well, to open a fragile barely healed part of his soul to a man he credits for keeping his family together. His tears were mine were his. I was overwhelmed. His blessing that day came from a God who used a man who’s very answer to his prayers came in the form of death, disaster, and pain. I will never know how to handle one man looking into my eyes and telling me my actions resulted in his family’s future. At his new home, he is putting in his second storm shelter.
God’s answers to prayers are not always roses, angel wings, and puppy licks. To me, a man who looks at his time at a television station in Huntsville as a time of struggle, fighting, battling, humility, embarrassment, seasoned with victory and relationships with people, some beautiful, some dark-spirited, I had asked God countless times why was my time spent where I gave so much, was appreciated so little, even chastised for my attention to my and others’ detail, and unwillingness to ever face defeat, expecting more from everyone around me. Falling emotionally, getting back up, supporting and being supported. Seeing others bolstered, then attacked. Lies, truths, misinformation, truth, inappreciation in the end.
Escaping into a world where those who surround me have a passion not for hiding from and deceiving customers but for openly telling them of victory and defeat. Integrity. My prayer to show me why I came to such a dark and negative place was answered on such a day when hundreds faced the tragedy of their lifetimes.
It took 7 years to spread WeatherCall into the homes of 8,100 homes in the Tennessee Valley, and 12 hours to deliver 156,000 phone messages to many who would have perished but for it. When all other warning methods failed, delivering life, like a beacon along a dark shore, to those who trusted me to get it and trust it. The call of life. Sprouts of life on the day of death.
How do I ever process this. Like the two gorgeous men who shared with me their experiences of that day, the pain of others’ loss is fresh again. The answer to my prayer was again clear. A conduit of Grace through a vastly imperfect man, feeling his way was lost only to have it found in tragedy.
Bradford Huffines, Meteorologist
Weather Risk and Notification