t the end of the graduation, I got a call from a colleague telling me I’d better check the radars again. A storm that was approaching had completely blown up. We were in contact with the National Weather Service, and they informed us that they were going to start issuing tornado warnings on the approaching storm. I told the principal of the school to try to urge people to get to their cars and get to safety, and also made the decision to sound the tornado sirens in town.
I knew I had to get to the fire station, and I intended to bring my family home first. Along the drive, the weather was quickly deteriorating. It was clear that the storm was still very intense as it approached the west side of the city. I’m not completely sure what it is, but I changed my plan and brought my family with me as I went to work instead of continuing to bring them home. To this day, it is one of the best decisions I had made in my life.
Once at the station, we started getting a few calls from the west side of the area. Our fire station called that they had sustained damage to both the building and the trucks and were taken out of service. With tornadoes in our area, we normally do not sound the sirens again, whether it is to continue the warning or as an all clear, but something told me this was a different situation. Again, the call was made to sound the tornado sirens throughout the city, and I cannot tell you the number of people that approached me in the following weeks and months telling me that it was that second sounding of the sirens that made them really get to action and take shelter. Again, it turned out to be a very fortunate decision.