By Will Tapper
OU RTDNA Webmaster
A Storm Was Brewing
We were sitting in our RTDNA Executive Board meeting when we first caught wind of it–tornadoes. We saw there was a tornado warning for Delaware County, and later Hocking, and eventually Athens County.
Right before the WOUB welcome meeting the sky over the RTV Building started to get very dark and scary looking. Moments later we heard the voice over the campus PA saying a tornado warning had been issued.
At this point, we had heard there had been some damage, so I grabbed reporter/OU RTDNA VP Evan Millward, a camera and a coat, and headed out toward Nelsonville, where we heard there had been some damage.
On the way to Nelsonville we heard there had been some damage at Athens High School, so we headed out there.
The Devastation in The Plains
As we approached the school we saw some down trees, and power lines hanging low to the ground, but neither Evan or myself were expecting what we saw when we approached the school–complete and total destruction.
The football field, for all intents and purposes, was destroyed. The visiting team’s bleachers were a mangled up pile of metal. The press box had flown into a field, hitting a car on its way there. And the roof of the concession stand, blown away by mother nature’s fury.
It’s just something you don’t expect to see in southeast Ohio.
Immediately Jumping into “Reporter Mode”
This is arguably the biggest story to happen in this area in the four years I’ve been at OU. There was just a huge adrenaline rush that smacked me in the face as soon as I got in the car to chase the storm. That feeling intensified as soon as we arrived at the stadium.
As soon as we got out of the car I started shooting video, and Evan started talking to people, trying to find out exactly what happened. I got a call from a WOUB alum who now works at WBNS in Columbus asking if we had anyone at the school. I told him I was there, and he said ONN wanted to do a phone interview with me about what happened. They also wanted to use the footage I shot for their newscast.
That entire night, my phone and Evan’s phone was ringing non-stop with people from various news organizations, and friends, just wanting to know what happened.
It’s a pretty cool feeling knowing that as a college student, the video you shot was being used all over the state of Ohio.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who had to go through this ordeal, and by the grace of God no one was killed. Thanks to the quick decision making at Athens High School, no one was in the press box or visiting bleachers when the tornadoes hit.