News on 6 WARN team sees Hurricane Katrina firsthand

Wednesday, August 31st 2005, 9:54 am
By: News On 6

First hand accounts from the midst of Hurricane Katrina. Two members of the News on 6 WARN team are back with an inside look at the storm and the aftermath.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims says as Hurricane Katrina battered Hattiesburg, Mississippi, two members of the News on 6 WARN team rode out the storm in a parking garage to bring you the story.

News on 6 chief meteorologist Jim Giles: "Trav and I continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Katrina as a matter of fact we have some storm warn units right there on the scene in the eye of the storm, Von Castor and Darren Stephens Von are you on the line with me?" Von and Darren are the voices you usually here, when severe weather strikes in Oklahoma.

Von Castor and Darren Stephens have chased tornadoes for years, but both of them say Katrina was a whole new experience. Darren Stephens: "The rain is horizontal. As you can see from some of the video we sent back, it goes in swirls. It’s just so much different than what we experience here.” Von Castor: "It gives you a very healthy respect. Any thing on TV even our video does not do it justice. That's a good analogy."

Castor says the wind was so powerful it was not only peeling roofs off of buildings and snapping trees but also shaking their shelter. "No wind hitting us inside that structure but my truck was bouncing up and down because the wind was buffeting the concrete moving the concrete up and down." But they say they didn't get a true picture of Katrina until after the storm and they got a look at the devastation. Buildings were in demolished, traffic lights and power lines twisted around debris and flooding in some low-lying areas.

Castor and Stephens say folks were literally cutting a path through the debris in order to get out of town. “We just thank God and for the help we received in making good judgment calls and our hearts go out to the people still there absolutely because they have a long long road ahead of em."

Von Castor and Darren Stephens say they had to drive 140 miles from Hattiesburg, Mississippi to find an area with power. After seeing all of the destruction, they say the true heroes are the folks from the Red Cross, who have the enormous task of helping folks, rebuild their lives