Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs’ letter to community: ‘You took the call seriously and acted just as you should’

Published: Monday, June 03, 2019 @ 3:36 PM

Meteorologists McCall Vrydaghs and Kirstie Zontini spent much of the day visiting various communities impacted by the Memorial Day tornadoes, including Trotwood.

It’s been a week since the most intense weather event of my life occurred. Never did I think I would have to track more than a dozen tornadoes on air.

I haven’t had much time to reflect back on that night, but when I do, it feels like a dream. I’m sure many of you feel the same.

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I am so grateful I could be there for the Miami Valley when you needed me most.

To be quite honest, I am having difficulty writing this article. There are so many things running through my mind still, even a week later. Please take this as a free-form, open letter.

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The first thing that comes to mind is: How did we have so many tornadoes and only one death? Trust me, I am very saddened to hear anyone lost their life, but I was certain I would wake up Tuesday morning to dozens missing or killed.

I barely slept a wink that night as I wished there was more I could do. The sun came up and to my surprise, while the damage was what I expected, the fatality count was not.

To that, I give so much credit to the people of the Miami Valley. You knew where to go and what to do when the worst-case scenario was barreling down on us. You took the call seriously and acted just as you should. You should be proud of yourself.

McVall Vrydaghs

The next thought that runs through my mind is how technology has really grown to a place that allowed me to alert everyone watching and listening to take action. LIVE Doppler 7 Radar allowed me to see inside the storm, determining where the tornadoes were occurring and where they were headed. I could pinpoint the center of the storm into neighborhoods down to street level giving a real-time location of the twister’s track.

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Of course, radar means nothing if you’re not alerted to the warning. Whether it was sirens, the WHIO Weather App, EAS alerts or something else, getting the warning out was the first step. Next was taking action and getting to your safe spot.

Now that we’ve survived, my heart turns to wanting to give back. I realize I’m only one person, but as a community, you can see how every little bit helps. I have never seen so much love in my life.

While out in the damaged areas, I was amazed at how lovely everyone was. I couldn’t believe that people could be so kind after losing so much.

I’m excited to team up with the Dayton Foodbank later this week to give back to those in need. If you want to help out by donating you can visit whio.com/tornadorelief. All money raised will stay in the Miami Valley to help the people most affected by the tornadoes.

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So what’s next? We pick up the pieces and we move forward. It’s going to be a long road and not an easy one to take.

I take pride in knowing I will be here to help you through the night when storms move back in. I realize people will be a lot more sensitive to thunderstorms, and I want to be the one to let you know it’s going to be OK.

If you ever feel the need to ask a weather question, please send me an email at mccall.vrydaghs@cmgohio.com or you can reach me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Finally, I want to thank everyone for all the kind letters I’ve already received. You have no idea how much they are appreciated.

Sincerely,

McCall Vrydaghs