JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – “Take cover now!” They are the words that rang out through the city of Joplin ten years ago.
We want to warn you, that some of this video could be sensitive for some viewers.
The voice on the television screen urges, “Take shelter now. It looks like this is a pretty powerful tornado.”
Former KSN weather forecaster Jeremiah Cook says, “I’ll never forget that night. You know I’ve lived here for 30 years and I’ve never seen something like that. When I see the video, there’s this sinking feeling.”
Anyone watching the television on May 22, 2011 remembers the chilling commands: “I am telling you to take cover, take cover right now. We do have a tornado on the ground. This is a tornado. This is a very dangerous situation.”
Cook recalls, “Oh my God, that’s how close I came. At first, I didn’t realize it was a tornado. I’ve seen plenty of videos of tornadoes, having gone to school, having worked in the business for as long as I had, I had seen videos of tornadoes. But it was one of those moments where, things were out of context. You know it’s easy to go back now and look and say yes that’s a tornado that was on the ground, but at the moment, I think it caught us all by surprise.”
Cook continues, “There was that what in the world is this that we’re looking at thing where you know, you don’t expect the tower cam to just come up and there’s the tornado and we transitioned into that okay, now we get everybody to take it seriously, we get people to take cover to take shelter. I think we all defaulted to it is our job to save as many people as we can. I wanted to make sure that I was there doing that for whoever needed it done for them at the moment.”
At that moment, someone he knew well needed it. KSN producer Marian Kelly was at home watching Jeremiah on TV.
“And Caitlin and Jeremiah were saying take cover now,” Kelly says.
She says it was the urgency in their voice that made her get into that crawl space.
“I could feel the air being sucked out of that crawlspace. And I thought this is how I’m going to die. And I was frankly a little surprised when it got over with and I was still alive,” Kelly says.
When asked if she credits people like Jeremiah with saving her life, she says, “Absolutely, In fact, I told them, I told Jeremiah and I told Caitlyn, I said you all saved my life. I would not have taken cover if you hadn’t used those exact words.”
“Personally, I think we did our jobs, I think we did what we were put here to do,” says Cook.
But the effects of that day – May 22nd, 2011 – still linger for both of them.
“I can’t look at it because, because it’s never not fresh,” says Kelly.
Cook says, “My wife gets on to me. And because every year around the tornado we talk about it and she’ll tell me you did everything you could you did everything you could. And I’ll tell her I can come up with 160 reasons we didn’t. When I was still predicting the weather I felt like I had to put a little more effort in every forecast I had to I had to try harder to be more on point with it. Because of that.”