06 May ‘Storm Warriors’ do more than just chase tornadoes

By Cheryl Owens cowens@themeridianstar.com May 3, 2016

Most people won’t venture out to to chase a tornado, but Bill Ford isn’t most people.

Ford is the team leader for a group called the Storm Warriors, whose mission is to educate families on how to stay safe when bad weather strikes.

“I grew up in the plains of Kansas and have always been fascinated with weather since I was in college,” Ford recalls. “But, when I saw the devastation of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado (in 1999) it changed my life. At that particular time I was helpless, I didn’t know how to help these people, I wasn’t equipped or prepared.”

Under the name Storm Warriors, Ford was involved in the recovery from Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, and Sandy as well as many tornado aftermaths in Texas and Oklahoma. He and his family soon teamed up with Mike Casey and Mike Prendergast, who had the same passion to help communities and families affected by nature’s wrath.

“We made a commitment to get trained to administer basic medical, search and rescue, in the event there was a disaster,” Ford said. “My family and team have received NIMS Certifications (National Incident Management Systems) training for disaster relief and SarTech III, as well as first aid, AED and CPR training.”

Believing in his motto that no one should ever die from the ravages of a tornado, Ford said the goal of the team is to warn, assist, and restore.

“We are based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and typically cover states that are in the path of tornado alley, which are Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama,” Ford said. “While we are out chasing we are able to warn communities that are in the path of a tornado to take shelter with our very loud horn and PA system.

“Secondly, in the event there is a disaster we stop and render aid. We are equipped in our trucks to be able to provide assistance for families in need. And lastly, we are there to give back to communities comfort and hope.”

“When you live in tornado alley you should be weather aware,” Ford said. “Most of the tornadoes we experience in tornado alley are EFO TO EF2 tornadoes but if I get up in the morning and the forecast says there is an active shooter within five counties of where I live, it may make me think differently about my day,” Ford said. “If they say it is within three counties of where I live, I might not send my kids to school.

“We need to rethink our day and have a better plan than just putting our heads in the sand, thinking it won’t happen here or to me.”

The team is all about educating the public on storm awareness, something they will be able to do in their new television series that is in the works, Ford said.

“We really believe that no one should die from a tornado, I don’t know what other goal you should have,” Ford said. “The show is to help bring education and storm awareness to families so they understand how not to die from a tornado. It’s an educational opportunity for us to help families.

“Most of the situations we find ourselves in helping people are that most of those deaths are preventable.”

Ford said the team teaches “When Every Second Counts, Know Where To Go.”

“We go into school educating students on how to become a storm warrior,” Ford said. “Our training includes a Go Plan, how to identify a severe storm visually, understanding how to read radar, how and when tornado sirens are activated and what to know before they are activated, as well as special training for local officials and first responders.

“We tell the students to go home with their parents and identify a safe place in your home or community. I can’t tell you how many times people have told us they have never thought about where they would go. You have to take responsibility for your own life when it comes to bad weather. You also need to have a to go bag ready so when you go to your safe place you can just grab the bag and go.”

Items for a go bag include:

• Flashlight

• Good batteries

• Drinking water

• Snacks

• First aid kit

• Extra shoes

• Pictures of family and pets

• Cash

• Radio

Ford said the team is all about helping families and saving lives.

“It is so hard to see people killed or injured, and when you look back and see what happened and say this was so unnecessary,” Ford said. “We just want to close that gap for families. We want families to live life the way they were intended to live it, in wholeness and abundance.

“We believe through awareness and education we can do that.”

For more information on Storm Warriors, visit www.Stormwarriors.tv or Facebook Storm Warriors TV.

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