Yesterday afternoon I spoke to some Oklahoma-based employees of super-regional security company ASG Security. Thankfully, all employees and employee families are safe, according to Bob Ryan and Ralph Masino of ASG, but many were witnesses to the destruction that occurred May 20.
All touted ASG Connect, ASG’s interactive home security panel which it OEMs from 2GIG. ASG provides the “Severe Weather Alert” service (powered by Alarm.com) to its Oklahoma customers free of charge, Ryan told me.
Bobby Walker, sales manager in ASG’s Oklahoma City office, lives in Moore. On Monday afternoon, he saw that the storm was bearing down and went to retrieve his son from school, which is located two miles away from the Plaza Towers Elementary School where several children died in the tornado.
“When I got there, they said they were not checking any more students out and we needed to take cover,” Walker said. “I found the room my son was in and we were told to take cover. … It was the scariest moment of my life. I was lying on top of my son and it sounded like canon balls were hitting the side of the building. Thuds, huge thuds and [sounds like] a jet engine firing up outside the building.”
The tornado passed in a matter of minutes, but when Walker and his son went outside, “it looked like a bomb dropped, houses were obliterated, every telephone pole was down. It was mass chaos,” he said.
Walker had two more children to retrieve. The road was impassable for cars and Walker’s car was totaled anyway, so he and his son walked the five miles to the school his other children attend.
There was no cell coverage and in neighborhoods along the way, “it was rubble propped up by more rubble.”
He feared the worst, but as he and his son got closer to the other school, there was less and less destruction. All of his children were fine, and his house, a few miles away was not seriously damaged. (Walker took the photos in this blog on his iPhone during his walk home.)
Walker and Joshua Jones, ASG VP and GM Oklahoma region, both said the 2GIG Severe Weather Alert was key to alerting many residents about the tornado.
Jones said his system alerted his wife to turn on the television. “She was home, but she wasn’t watching TV,” he said. Once she saw the severity of the storm, she called Jones and told him to retrieve their children from school.
“If you live in Oklahoma and you don’t have 2GIG with Severe Weather Alert, you need to rethink it,” Walker said.
“So many storms happen in the middle of the night, you never get the warning our 2GIG panel gives us. … it saves lives just like fire protection,” Walker said.
ASG has nearly 6,000 “2GIG protected customers in Oklahoma” and more than 2,000, 2Gig/ADC systems installed in the Oklahoma City/Moore, area, all of whom received a critical server weather alert on their 2Gig system, according to Bob Ryan.
For more tornado coverage, see “Oklahoma integrator High Tech Tronics rides out storm”, Tornado spares CSG Office in Oklahoma City, and “Experts: Schools can prepare successfully for disasters like tornadoes”