Friday, February 01, 2008

Last night's Storm Alert presentation in Oak Grove

Last night I drove the boys down to Oak Grove in western Jefferson County. The ABC 33/40 Weather Team made the first stop on their 2008 Storm Alert Tour. Oak Grove, including the school, was destroyed by an F5 tornado on April 8, 1998. I will post more about that storm, which was Alabama ’s most recent F5 tornado, at a later date.

It was a rainy night and the drive from Hueytown out to Oak Grove on Warrior River Road was a bit difficult. That winding road is very poorly lit and visibility was worse than usual due to the heavy rain. I was very impressed by the “new” school.

After getting seats near the front of the auditorium, David, Matt and I spoke with Jason Simpson, Brian Peters, and James Spann. These guys are so nice and really good with the kids. James Spann has been a children’s minister for years at his church, Hunter Street Baptist in Hoover , and it is obvious that he has a heart for kids. Jason and I discussed the possibility of getting together to eat a barbecue potato sometime soon and our cell phone problems. I really enjoyed talking with Brian Peters about weather blogs and the amazing amount of “hate” comments they receive on their blog and that James receives via email. It amazes me the time and energy that some people put into being negative towards others. He told me some crazy stories about the effort some put into negativity.

The show itself was great as usual. I have been taking the boys to these events every year for probably about 10 years now. The boys didn’t even attempt to get autographs because they probably have about five of them already. After James’ introduction Jason Simpson did a presentation on the record drought. He shared some photos (including the ones I sent him) and video. He also mentioned that I was in the audience. The video was really well done and showed some amazing aerial photographs of the low water levels in Alabama lakes. Ashley Brand did a presentation on the March 1, 2007 Enterprise tornado. Brian Peters discussed some tornado climatology for Alabama and also did a presentation about the 1998 Oak Grove tornado.

Perhaps the highlight of the night for me was James Spann’s interview with Matthew Seals, a survivor of the April 8, 1998 tornado. Mr. Seals was severely injured in the tornado and lost his 8 year old son Nathan in the storm. James has developed a friendship with Matthew over the past 10 years. After the video, James introduced Matthew who came on stage and gave his testimony. He spoke about his children, his life after the tornado, and how God has sustained him through it all as “time marches on”. If there was a dry eye in the house I would be surprised, because mine sure weren’t.

Before the show ended, the crew asked trivia questions and drew for prizes. My son Joe’s number was called but he gave his ticket to Matthew who was more than happy to go up and receive a prize from James Spann. Matthew won a bicycle helmet. Several of those were given away to children. Matthew Seals mentioned that his son Nathan would have survived had his head been protected. Joe let Matthew keep the helmet, he gave David the calculator, and he gave me the insulated lunch container. All who attended received a goodie bag with rain gauges and Storm Alert tee shirts. Oh yes, and the “Bud’s Best” cookies were great!

It was a great show; inspirational, educational, and fun. I highly recommend all families in the Birmingham area, especially those with children, to make plans to attend one of the upcoming shows. You will be glad you did.

James Spann posted some really good photos here

Read more about Matthew Seals here This site is a "must read"!


Dewdrop said...

Mike, it sounds really awesome! Thanks so much for sharing about your experience. The presentation sounds very touching.

Mike Wilhelm said...

It was cool...thanks...