Holy Smokes, back to Florida this afternoon.

11/21/2004 Holy Smokes, Its 3:30 PM and I'm once again sitting at the Minneapolis International Airport in route to Florida... AGAIN with an emergency shipment of Hurricane Charley Videos.

What?  An emergency shipment of videos you say?

Why? Because the Sun-Herald.com Sunday Newspaper reviewed our video, again...

We made the cover of the Sunday Business Section.

SWEET!!! Here is the story they published.


Here is the story they published.

11/21/04 Riding the storm out
By DAN MEARNS Business Editor
© 2008 All rights reserved
Crew makes video of Hurricane Charley

Professional storm chaser Jim Edds has photographed a lot of storms, but he never saw anything like Hurricane Charley.

"I remember thinking I was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it," said Edds, recalling the high winds and tons of debris that roared past him while he videotaped the Category 4 storm.

"I've been in Cats 1, 2 and 3, but you don't see many 4s, especially in the daytime," he said, noting that Andrew, Camille, Frederick and Hugo all happened at night.

Edds and five colleagues descended on Punta Gorda Aug. 13 and came away with an extraordinary chronicle of the hurricane. The resulting 90-minute video, culled from 13 hours of tape by the Breaking News Video Network (BNVN), is being sold for $29.95 and is available in DVD and VHS format at the Celtic Ray pub in Punta Gorda and online (plus shipping) at (www.stormchasingvideo.com).

The crew behind the video included Edds and Mark Rackley of Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys, BNVN CEO Doug Kiesling of Minnesota, Jeff Gammon of Okeechobee and Jason Foster and Chris Collura of Fort Lauderdale. Individually and collectively, they have supplied storm footage for various news organizations and TV networks.

The group initially assembled in Tampa, but with their vehicles equipped with Doppler Radar, were able to track the hurricane as it turned toward Charlotte Harbor.

"Every light was green from Sarasota to Punta Gorda," said Edds. "There was nobody else on the road."

Edds was in communication with his New York-based friend and sometime partner Scott McPartland, whom Edds said filmed what is called the "Oz tornado," a May 12 storm in Kansas that lifted a house off the ground. Also monitoring Charley, McPartland told the storm chasers Punta Gorda would get "the absolute worst part of the storm," Edds said.

"Mark and I went over to the Holiday Inn and started filming around the northbound bridge," said Edds, "knowing the eye would be coming up Charlotte Harbor."

The increasing wind forced the two to abandon that location and head for the Bank of America building. Fearing there would be nothing to photograph there but "a parking lot," they moved to the Bayside Eye Center, across U.S. 41 from Prudential Village Realty.

Crouched inside the Eye Center doorway, Edds set up his camera and tripod and shot some of most intense sequences on the video, as the eyewall of the hurricane Charley slammed the city with sustained winds of 145 mph and wind gusts up to 175 mph.

When the eye of storm came over the town, Edds and Rackley packed up the camera and tripod and "ran like crazy" back to their car. Hit by debris, the car lost its back window and glass shards covered the interior. Edds began walking around the car to survey the damage.

"Mark was screaming at me to get the heck out of there, when the wind caught me and blew me down," said Edds, recalling a scene that appears in the video and also was shown on the TV program "Good Morning America."

"The car ran enough for me to get home and never ran again," said Edds.

Describing the experience as "the scariest thing I've ever done in my life," Edds said it was "way too dangerous. You did not have time to find a safe place and there really wasn't a safe place in Punta Gorda."

The four other crew members, who had set up in the brick walkways of the Charlotte County Justice, were in just as much danger as he was, Edds said, as strong winds, debris and water filled the passageways.

Edds praised sheriff's deputies, calling them the "last to leave (before the hurricane) and the first ones back in. They did a really good job putting a lid on looters before they got in there."

Edds said Charley was "the big one" of the four hurricanes that hit Florida this summer.

"The others don't compare to Charley," he said. "It was a very rare event and I think we have a rare video. With six different cameras, we got some very unique angles. I don't think it's ever been done."

Videos purchased at the Celtic Ray will help keep it open, Punta Gorda Herald Editor Gordon Bower reported last week. Proceeds are going into a fund to help owner Kevin Doyle buy the building. Doyle said the out-of-town landlord is less than enthusiastic about saving the historic structure that houses the two sections of the pub.

"We've already sold 130 copies," Leslie Deppert, Doyle's girlfriend, told Bower last week, "and another shipment is due in any day."

You can visit the pub from 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday or noon to 11 p.m. Sunday to purchase a copy.

Bower reviewed the video in the Herald, saying it is "a must-see for anyone who weathered the storm in our beautiful city and for visitors with questions about what we endured.

"I've watched it twice, and I still wonder how we as a city survived," he wrote. "I may wonder, but I know we did. I see it in the eyes of the people every day."

You can e-mail Dan Mearns at dmearns@sun-herald.com.


Business Editor

© 2008 All rights reserved