Seiler witnesses Oklahoma tornado aftermath during first days at job

June 18, 2013

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Oklahoma City tornado damage

PLATTEVILLE — Reed Seiler’s first days on the job were much more hectic than he expected. Seiler, a 2011 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, is a photojournalist at KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City, Okla. His one-week anniversary on the job was marked by one of the largest and most catastrophic tornadoes in United States’ history.

On May 22, Seiler covered the aftermath of the F5 tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla. And then, on May 31, another tornado blew through Oklahoma City. “It has been crazy,” he said. “I am not used to seeing what I have seen. It’s pretty amazing what weather can do.”

Seiler grew up in Rockford, Ill. He earned a bachelor’s in communications technology with an emphasis in video and audio production in the Department of Communication Technologies, now Media Studies, from UW-Platteville in 2011. His first job after college was at WREX, the NBC affiliate in Rockford, Ill. In April, he was hired at KWTV.

“Being from this area, whenever I think of severe weather I think of snowstorms or a little bit of thunderstorms,” said Seiler. “I’ve never in my life imagined what Mother Nature can do with wind, how it can destroy homes, neighborhoods and schools.”

Seiler witnessed the aftermath of the damage in Moore at the corner of Southwest 4th Street and Telephone Road. The Moore Medical Center and other buildings were demolished by the tornado. “When you witness it firsthand it is a lot different,” he said. “It is something I will never forget.”

During the Moore tornado, Seiler was at the television station, working on editing. The Oklahoma City tornado struck five to six miles from the station. He and his co-workers were moved into an underground shelter. He never felt unsafe during the dangerous weather.

Following the Moore tornado, there were 70-90 hours of continuous coverage on KWTV. Seiler logged many of those hours.

“Your heart breaks because you feel for the people,” he said. “You feel helpless.”

It’s clear that Seiler has been witness to catastrophic property damage during his initial time in Oklahoma. That destruction was accompanied with what Seiler describes as the “Oklahoma standard.” “People’s attitudes are amazing,” he said. “It’s kind of refreshing. It won’t take their spirit. People here are determined and dedicated.”

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, wackersd@uwplatt.edu

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