UPDATE: ARRL (American Radio Relay League - a nation-wide organization for amateur radio operators) has an article about the North Texas tornadoes that mentions me - but didn't bother to see if they'd spelled my name right. http://www.arrl.org/news/north-texas-hams-respond-when-tornados-strike
Not only did my hard drive crash AGAIN a couple of weeks ago, I've been very busy helping out at the Office of Emergency Management as the result of the tornado in SW Arlington on 4/3. I was called to come in to handle emergency radio traffic on the 4th because of the severe weather. I was sitting at the intersection next to the Administration Building when the sirens went off. My Dad was going to drive my car home to the garage he'd cleaned out (because of predicted large hail), but I told him FORGET THE CAR, YOU'RE COMING UP WITH ME! (As I'm looking up to make sure something wasn't about to drop on top of us.) Very interesting experience. No time to be frightened, even when a spotter reported the circulation was right on top of our location. Circulation is rotation in the clouds, NOT a funnel or tornado. HOWEVER, someone took a photo of a funnel only 1/4 mile from our location. It's not a tornado unless the circulation actually reaches the ground. I left the EOC about 6:30pm. Because I sit in a windowless office with a screen way above my head showing radar, and was so busy listening to radio traffic and reporting emergency events to staff, I was unaware there had been a tornado in Lancaster at the same time. The whole area was EXTREMELY fortunate. No deaths, only 2 or 3 serious injuries, the Arlington tornado missed 2 elementary schools and a huge high school by as little as 250 feet. Had it continued on it's original path and not dissipated, it would have hit my neighborhood 2 or 3 minutes later. There has been an over-abundance of volunteers (leaving hundreds of good hearted citizens disappointed that there was nothing they were needed to do.) Nor were donations originally accepted, then later referred to Mission Arlington once a distribution plan was set up. The areas hit by the Arlington tornado were almost exclusively upper middle income and higher, thus most, if not all, are covered by insurance and though FEMA has been in to assess the damages, the likelihood of getting funds from FEMA is small. (They only cover non-insured expenses.)
I called the next morning to find out if our CERT volunteers had been activated, and instead was asked to come in to secure and schedule volunteers for both the Emergency Operations Center and the Tornado Recovery Center. Subsequently, I have been at the EOC pretty much from 7am to 11pm (or later) every night through Sunday. Went home at 8pm on Monday. Now I'm preparing documentation for the OEM/EOC to determine how many different people and how many hours they've put in. So far I've got a total of 215 volunteer hours for the EOC (not including the 3+ I spent today trying to figure out how Excell and Word 2007 work - I HATE THEM - way too overly complicated and far too many unnecessary graphics - I wish they'd leave what works perfectly well ALONE!). I don't have the total hours for volunteers working at the TRC yet, but it was operational from 8am to 8pm Tuesday through 6pm this past Monday. Close to 100 more I suspect. UPDATE: CERT volunteers logged 185 hours at the Tornado Recovery Center. Altogether, in less than a week, volunteers totaled over 400 hours assisting at the Office of Emergency Management, the TRC, Fire, Police and citizens of Arlington.
One interesting story that I haven't seen published is that when the tornado hit St. Barnabas church, it sucked up or blew away hundreds of plastic Easter eggs, meaning some folks found unexpected plastic eggs hidden in their yards this year. Thankfully, my daughter was working at home. Straight line winds or a small spin up hit her office and blew in windows where she would otherwise have been sitting. God is good!