Stormchaser: The Butterfly and the Tornado


Stormchaser: The Butterfly and the Tornado

Documentary following tornado researcher Sam Hall, who suffers from the skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa, on a road trip across the US in search of Earth's most violent storms.


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Transcript


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'Meet a girl I know called Sam.

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'She's got a condition called EB that makes her as delicate as a butterfly.'

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-SHE LAUGHS

-No!

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You're just talking absolute crap! What are you like?

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'Yeah, it's fair to say Sam is far from delicate. Oh, and there's just one more thing.'

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-Haven't you got something to tell us about yourself?

-Er, well, I love stormchasing.

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'That's right, Sam is a tornado chaser.'

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Whoo-hoo-hoo! Tornado started going off. We've done it!

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The whole thing is just swirling!

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That is insane!

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'Every year, massive storms steam across the USA.'

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Wow! Go, go! We got to move!

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HE SHOUTS

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'And every year, Sam is right behind them.

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'This time round, I did my best to keep up with her.'

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Excited. Adrenaline kicking in.

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This is really quite dangerous.

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'But nothing could prepare us for what was about to come.'

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Man, we haven't had a tornado hit through here in 20 years. I guess that changed today.

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SHE GASPS

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Oh, my God. This is unbelievable.

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I can't... No, I...

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'Sam Hall is a Warrington lass born and bred.'

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I'm like most girls. I like to wear a bit of makeup.

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I just look less pale and, I don't know, it just makes you feel better, so that's what I do.

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Yes! Nice one!

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I can't hold the pencil, you know, with one hand,

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so it's difficult to gauge where you are and stuff,

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but sometimes it goes on no problem and sometimes it's a real pain,

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-so it depends how long I've got...

-SHE LAUGHS

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..before I've got to go out.

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She was such a beautiful little baby, she really was.

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A right plump little thing, as well. SHE LAUGHS

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'Sam came into this world 28 years ago after a totally normal pregnancy.'

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I felt as though everything was so natural.

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I said how lovely she looked and everybody was very quiet

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and I thought, "There's something wrong here"

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and then a nurse came to say, "I'm sorry, we've just got to take Samantha away

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"to get a doctor in to have a look at her, there's something not quite right".

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So I didn't know what on earth was the matter.

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It was just unbelievable,

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because nobody in the hospital knew what it was.

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And when she was born, they put her over into this cubicle

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and I could see right through her skin and see her veins and everything.

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It was, erm...quite...

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Well, it was frightening.

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We were in a daze, really, to be honest with you.

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'She had been born with Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB,

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'a rare hereditary condition that makes the skin very fragile.

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'The slightest friction or pressure on Sam's skin results in sores

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'and to protect her, she has to wear bandages 24 hours a day.

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'EB can also have a profound effect on life expectancy.'

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With my particular type of EB,

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erm, anywhere that does majorly become wounded will scar,

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and that's why I don't have properly formed toes and I don't have properly formed hands.

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Could I just have some round there?

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I will be honest, when we go on holiday and we're chasing,

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I do sometimes, when we're back at the motel

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and we're tired after a long day's drive and whatnot,

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I do kind of... I don't want to be bothered with it.

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I will be honest there.

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But it's just something that I have to do,

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so I just get on with it, really.

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Thank you.

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It's very easy to become melancholy and whatnot,

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but you've got to keep going, you've got to say "come on", you know?

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If it's done, it's done, and you've got to get on with it,

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you've go to adjust your life to that, which is what we did.

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People compare us to butterflies because our skin is supposed to be as fragile as a butterfly's wing,

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but I think it'd be fair to say that I'm not fragile, really.

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SHE SQUEALS

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-SHE LAUGHS

-I want to pop like that!

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'In a few days time, Sam is heading across the Atlantic to track down some wild weather.

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'But a girl can't go stormchasing without looking her best, so there's only one thing for it.'

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They're nice, aren't they? They're not the right type, though, for me.

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'Sam has a team of carers to help her in her everyday life.

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'But she's heading to Tornado Alley without them.'

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-Bra.

-Yeah, I like that. I like that. Nice that, isn't it?

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-Cute.

-Do you want me to hold it.

-No, you're all right, thank you, darling.

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-It's got a monkey on it.

-Aww.

-What you trying to say?

-SHE LAUGHS

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She can be a bit feisty. SHE LAUGHS

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No, she's OK. She's fine.

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I don't know whether feisty is the word or not.

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You reckon? SHE LAUGHS

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But she did enjoy her days growing up

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from her first birthday party to her 21st birthday party.

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She's always enjoyed life to the full

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and we've made sure that we could make her as happy as possible.

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She was a little daredevil, I can tell you that.

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She used to fall over quite a bit.

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Instead of putting her hands out to save her, she used to fall on her nose

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My gran used to call her Rosy Nose, because she'd always got this scab on her nose

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where the skin had been taken off.

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But we just had to... We just brought her up as normally as we could.

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We taught her how to ride a bike and our hearts were in our mouths,

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but we just did that, we just did what we could.

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She's always smiling, she's always got a smile on her face, although she's in pain.

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I know she's in pain 24 hours a day.

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But she's... Yeah, she's great. Yeah.

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THEY LAUGH

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'Sam may be just one of the girls, but she's also a massive storm geek.

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'She's the editor of the International Journal of Meteorology.'

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I stormchase because I love it and I'm a weirdo

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and it's just my passion and that's it.

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Some people's passion is sitting out there painting

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or stamp collecting or whatever, and mine is stormchasing.

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'But no-one stormchases by themselves. You need a technical whizz.

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'And who better a wingman than big brother Keith?'

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Sam wanted to go stormchasing and I kind of thought,

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"Well, yeah, I wouldn't mind having a go at that."

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Erm, not only for the stormchasing,

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but to kind of look after Sam, as well,

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because with her condition, it's difficult.

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At first, it was really worrying.

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At first we thought, "Oh, dear, oh, dear". But they're following, they're chasing them.

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Rather than the tornado chasing them, it's the other way round,

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so they...

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And they seem to... She just loves everything to do with the weather. Yeah.

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'It's just 12 hours to go before Sam boards a plane to the States.'

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-..one side.

-Yeah, that side.

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'So her helper Kerry and brother Keith have come over to lend a hand

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'with the thousands of dressings Sam will have to take on the trip.'

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Left hand.

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Right hand. Thank you.

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This is the tenth pack.

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I've got one pack in my hand luggage

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and this one is the last one to go in my medical case, I think.

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30 tubes of the hydrocortisone cream. Two of them.

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-Yep. OK. And that's it! And then if you could tie it in a...

-Yep.

-Cheers.

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-Yay!

-All done.

-Wicked. Thank you, darling.

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Bon voyage!

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'And it's a goodbye to the safety net that all Sam's helpers provide.

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'Record-breaking storms have been coursing across America

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'but far from nervous, Sam's buzzing.

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'And there's one thing she wants to see above all else.'

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I'd like to see a proper, big, fat, wedge tornado

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that only goes across fields. That would be absolutely amazing.

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It's wider than it is tall, so it looks like a wedge.

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It's just a wedge in the atmosphere and it can be up to two miles wide.

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It's just a major excitement to be seeing Mother Nature doing its worst. Aghh! It's amazing.

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-I can't wait!

-SHE SQUEALS

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"Thank you for waiting, ladies and gentlemen. Customers in group three..."

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Long journey ahead of us now. Eight hours or so flight

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and then we've got about a six-hour drive to our hotel,

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so that should be fun. So hopefully I'll get a nice kip on the plane.

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I'm hopeful for the next couple of days, to be honest, that things will kick off.

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This year could be the big year. Let's hope so.

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Fingers crossed! Everything crossed!

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SHE LAUGHS

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OK, thank you.

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'Sam's destination - the Midwest.

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'A huge expanse of land famous for epic highways,

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'one-horse towns and endless skies.

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'Its other name...

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'..Tornado Alley.'

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Wow!

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-'Tornados are huge rotating columns of air.'

-Don't move!

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'From beautiful, picturesque funnels

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'to monstrous wedges.'

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Oh, jeez, what's that hitting? Oh, no!

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-SIREN BLARES

-'Miles across,

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'whirling masses that hurl cars and will obliterate anything in their path.'

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David, come on!

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'What's more, they are notoriously lethal.

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'And Sam won't rest till she's come face-to-face with one.

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'After flying across the Atlantic and an eight-hour drive,

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'they're up early the next day and can't wait to get on the road.

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'But first they need to set up specialist storm-tracking equipment

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'that will help them get into the best position to try and catch a glimpse of the elusive twisters.'

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-Get on the road!

-'Not to mention make a couple of adjustments for Sam.'

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These are straps so Sam can get her hand in to open the door.

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'But they still need to get used to the car.'

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-Push it in.

-Oh!

-SHE LAUGHS

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-Ah. It's stinging.

-Oh, no, Keith!

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'Tornado Alley is a vast expanse of land

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'and they'll have to drive thousands of miles just to have a chance of seeing a twister.'

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Hang on a minute, is Sam driving the whole way?

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I do drive all the time, yeah.

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If I do feel tired, we stop over at rest stops and stuff like that.

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No way am I going to kill myself,

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or definitely not my brother.

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Keith tends to navigate. He does brilliantly through the storms.

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How he does it, I don't have a clue.

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But I enjoy it. It's what I love to do.

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-So, yeah.

-SHE LAUGHS

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-Whoo!

-SHE LAUGHS

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'Keith's laptop receives live data so they can predict where the worst weather is going to be.

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'The kit's up and running and it's telling them that the storms are hundreds of kilometres to the east.

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'It's going to be a very long drive.

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'Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

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'96 degrees and the outlook, sunny.

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'And Sam and Keith are holed up in their hotel room looking for a storm cloud to sit under.'

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Yeah, we've got a bit of wind veer here, not much,

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but it's still not great. We really want wind shear, don't we?

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But it's going to be clear skies probably and really sunny

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and just nothing happening at all. Cos there's no moisture, either,

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and that is one of the key things you need to get thunderstorms going.

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There's just not going to be any storms for the next few days.

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'Things are not going Sam's way

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'so it's another drive a couple of hundred kilometres to the east.

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'Memphis, Tennessee.

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'Most tourists to the region flock to Elvis's grave,

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'but Sam and Keith are only interested in seeing the floods

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'that recent storms have brought to the area.

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'And even though there is no bad weather brewing now,

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'Sam is still confident.'

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Yeah, there's no storms likely, not around this area, anyway,

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anywhere that we need to be,

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so the next couple of days, we'll mosey on northwest

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and hopefully get in a good position for probably Monday.

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So that'll be cool.

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Come on, give us a good gust of wind.

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I'm just taking a wind speed reading. It's maxing out at about 12 knots at the moment.

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It's not mega wind.

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I can't stand up in an over 25 mile-an-hour wind.

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-It blows me away!

-SHE LAUGHS

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'Every couple of days, Sam changes all her dressings,

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'a job that was down to Mum for the first 19 years of Sam's life.'

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Fran was absolutely fantastic. I can't praise her enough.

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She's been marvellous with her. Absolutely marvellous.

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She bore the brunt of doing the dressings and whatnot

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because I was working, of course. I did what I could when I got in.

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We were doing dressings, I think it was every day or every other day.

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From start to finish, about three hours.

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It got longer as she grew,

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so there was more areas to cover.

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Sometimes it was really heartbreaking,

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because some of the dressings were stuck and you had to soak them off in the bath.

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The bath stung her skin.

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It was a bad time. A bad time. But we got through it,

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made her comfortable and happy and smiley.

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And then she became independent.

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Well, she's always been sort of independent.

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And she decided she would live on her own,

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which was nice, it was nice for us,

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although we were always a bit apprehensive. Was she going to be OK?

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'Sam has to change her dressings regularly to avoid life-threatening infections

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'and to keep an eye out for cancerous growths.

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'It's a massive job.

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'Back home, it would take Sam and a helper three or four hours.

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'In Tornado Alley, she has to do it by herself.'

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I've just taken my pain relief.

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Basically, all over my body, I've areas that are pretty average, if you like,

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in sizes and stuff,

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but I am covered from here all the way down,

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so I've got to take into account everything.

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Everything is cut up, practically ready.

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11 packs of these,

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which is probably about 400 of the clear stuff

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and about 200-odd of the other stuff, so a lot of dressings.

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I can't see a needle, either. I need a needle to burst my blisters.

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I annoyingly have had quite a few whilst I've been here, so some areas are worse than others.

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Agh! Stop sticking to it! Get off! Agh!

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It's a nightmare to an extent, but it's just something you live with and you've got to do it.

0:19:080:19:13

It's only three weeks of my life. Yes, it annoys me. Yes, it gets in the way.

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But what doesn't? Life... Everyone's got something in their life, haven't they, that's annoying to them.

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I just get on with it. It just gets frustrating

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sometimes.

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Like this will frustrate me right now, but it'll be funny.

0:19:290:19:33

Oh, my God, these scissors are a nightmare.

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They won't cut at the end. I don't know why.

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We're getting there. Slowly.

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But surely. Agh!

0:19:550:19:58

How come your brother doesn't help you with your dressings?

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Erm, Keith stays away, I think, because he likes to give me my privacy

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and he's very sensitive.

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He, you know... I think when he was younger,

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he'd take things hard if I was ill or whatever.

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It hurts to see her hurting.

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Erm...

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There's not... There's nothing you can do about it.

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Erm, it's...

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I'm very much a realist,

0:20:340:20:37

and Sam wouldn't want pity, she doesn't want pity.

0:20:370:20:42

Yes. Got it.

0:20:420:20:44

Erm, I remember being outside Dad's shop and Mum driving up and saying that

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her left foot, her little toes fused together.

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I just... I just found that really upsetting at the time.

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I can't explain why, but that's how it was.

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It's nice to not burden him with this, because he does a heck of a lot else.

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If I was desperate and I really needed his help,

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I know for a fact he'd help me.

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But, you know, it just takes a bit longer

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and I can do it myself, so why not?

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He needs his holiday, too. He needs his rest, as well.

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I do this hand first.

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She was a teenager and very, very nearly died, apparently. It was that close.

0:21:320:21:39

So that was... That's scary. I mean, the other aspect of it is that you have to...

0:21:390:21:45

You have to kind of think that she's not going to be around.

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Well, you kind of, erm...

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You kind of just try not to think about it.

0:22:040:22:06

My dad told me a good thing to help me with the pain

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when I'm taking my bandages off and stuff

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and that's to sing through the pain, basically.

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And it goes like...

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# I'm singing through the pain

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# I'm singing through the pain

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# What a glorious feeling

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# I'm happy again

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# I'm laughing at clouds

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# So dark up above

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# The sun's in my heart

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# And I'm ready for love

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'Two weeks in and Sam's on the tail of a fresh set of storms

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'that are coursing towards Oklahoma.'

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Finally, something has popped off.

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This is the best looking storm we've had all trip.

0:23:070:23:12

RADIO: "The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning..."

0:23:150:23:19

Did he say warning?

0:23:190:23:21

Right, that means that there is severe rotation in this storm. Hee!

0:23:210:23:25

Excited. Adrenaline kicking in.

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Little bit nervous, cos I'm not quite sure where this thing is.

0:23:310:23:34

-"The Weather Service has issued a tornado warning..."

-Warning! I knew it!

0:23:360:23:42

SHE LAUGHS AND SQUEALS

0:23:420:23:45

Definitely... Ohh!

0:23:450:23:49

That lightning is amazing!

0:23:490:23:52

There is a tornado over there right now,

0:23:530:23:55

moving 25 miles an hour northeast.

0:23:550:23:58

So this is exciting.

0:23:580:24:00

'With the storm churning towards them, Sam and Keith are in a great position to see the tornado.

0:24:030:24:08

'But there's also the danger of being caught up in the violent twister.

0:24:080:24:13

'And as the air prickles with energy, Sam hears confirmation over the emergency radio.'

0:24:130:24:17

Definite tornados on the ground.

0:24:170:24:20

About four possibly on the ground right now.

0:24:200:24:23

It's just a pain that there is so much rain in there and hail and stuff so you can't see it.

0:24:230:24:28

That's why it's so dangerous. But it's fun, though, too!

0:24:280:24:31

Yes! Tornado sirens going off. We've done it.

0:24:340:24:37

'The sirens can mean only one thing.

0:24:400:24:43

'The tornados are dangerously close and people are beginning to flee.'

0:24:430:24:47

SHE LAUGHS AND SQUEALS

0:24:470:24:52

We are literally back five miles from a tornado right now.

0:24:520:24:56

Well, probably even less than that now.

0:24:560:24:58

They have to take warning now, the tornado sirens are going off.

0:24:580:25:02

SHE SQUEALS

0:25:020:25:04

Go to your shelter!

0:25:040:25:06

Go home!

0:25:080:25:10

Oh, wow! Look how dark it is over there!

0:25:100:25:13

'More stormchasers flood in and as the twister steams towards them,

0:25:130:25:17

'the afternoon skies turn black as night.

0:25:170:25:20

SHE SQUEALS

0:25:210:25:24

'If there's any chance of seeing the tornado, they'll have to cut right through the thick of the storm.

0:25:260:25:32

'But as it closes in around them, they realise there's nothing for it.

0:25:370:25:41

'They'll have to beat a hasty retreat.

0:25:410:25:43

'Even storm-nut Sam doesn't think it's worth risking life and limb for.'

0:25:460:25:51

Even if there was the possibility of seeing the best tornado ever,

0:25:510:25:55

we would never risk our lives to see a storm.

0:25:550:25:57

The storms are always going to be there, so no way.

0:25:570:26:00

'En route through Kansas, Sam hits the town of Greensburg.

0:26:170:26:21

'It's a place close to her heart, as she studied the huge tornado

0:26:210:26:24

'that killed 11 people as it swept through in 2007.'

0:26:240:26:28

You can tell by this tree here, it's been completely debarked.

0:26:420:26:45

And you can tell by all the trees that the wind has been slamming that way cos they're all bent.

0:26:450:26:50

Erm, these brand new houses all round, you can see that they're pretty newly built.

0:26:500:26:57

You can just tell that this place was just completely and utterly annihilated by that tornado.

0:26:570:27:01

Flattened. Absolutely flattened.

0:27:010:27:05

'The physical scars in Greensburg may be healing,

0:27:080:27:11

'but the emotional ones remain.

0:27:110:27:13

'A local spots Sam and Keith and wants to talk about that fateful day.'

0:27:140:27:18

-My name's Charlie Jones.

-If you don't mind, tell us about the day Greensburg got hit.

0:27:180:27:24

Well, I'll tell you what. I had a little voice come to me and it was my mother.

0:27:240:27:29

-Oh, my.

-My mother passed away in 1986.

-Gosh.

0:27:290:27:33

And she said, "Charles, sit still and you'll be all right."

0:27:330:27:36

-And then it hit.

-Oh, my God.

-We had a Ryder truck slid across the highway,

0:27:360:27:41

one of those four-engine trucks, slid across the highway, hit me right in the door.

0:27:410:27:45

-Oh, my goodness.

-My finger was dangling, so I took black tape and wrapped my finger up.

0:27:450:27:50

I couldn't talk because I had a stick that was about 12 inches long

0:27:500:27:54

-that went down my throat and stuck in the back.

-Goodness me! You were so lucky!

-I know.

0:27:540:28:00

I walked up on a lady right over here next to the railway tracks

0:28:000:28:04

-and she was all cut up in about three pieces.

-Oh, gosh.

0:28:040:28:06

-And I walked up on that.

-I can't believe you're here.

-I know. I'm here, though.

0:28:060:28:12

-Yeah.

-I'm here.

-Keep safe in this bad weather.

0:28:120:28:16

Well, always listen to the voice in the back of your head. But if you ever get in a tornado and get hurt,

0:28:160:28:21

-don't forget there's somebody else out there and you got to go looking for them.

-We would do that.

0:28:210:28:26

-You got to look for them.

-Definitely. We would.

0:28:260:28:29

-OK, you take care.

-And you, Charlie. Bye.

0:28:290:28:32

'With blue skies ahead, there's time for some housekeeping.

0:29:040:29:08

'Even the most hardened stormchasers need to do their laundry.'

0:29:080:29:12

Thank you.

0:29:120:29:14

Now, is that... Will that get my stains out from my sores and stuff?

0:29:140:29:20

-Have you got enough in there?

-This is all we've got.

-Oh, right. OK.

0:29:200:29:24

'But storms are the only thing on Sam's mind.'

0:29:340:29:37

I want a really nice, proper rotating mothership.

0:29:390:29:42

Yeah, that'd be great.

0:29:420:29:45

-We might get a chance tomorrow.

-Please! Please.

0:29:450:29:50

I need a fix. I need a storm fix, without a shadow of a doubt.

0:29:530:29:57

I'm bored of this heat and boring blue sky.

0:29:580:30:03

-It's rubbish.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:30:030:30:05

-Total trash.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:30:050:30:09

-Hi!

-Hi. Are you ready to order?

-Yes, please.

0:30:360:30:40

Could I have, please, the baked potato with sour cream.

0:30:400:30:44

-Could you please try and make it as soft as possible for me?

-Sure.

-Thank you.

0:30:440:30:49

-And could I have some extra butter with it, as well?

-Sure.

-Thank you.

0:30:490:30:53

-Er, I'll have the... On the specials, the sirloin, please.

-OK.

0:30:530:30:58

'While the Midwest is world famous for its hearty home cooking,

0:31:040:31:09

'even eating can be a pain for Sam,

0:31:090:31:11

'as her condition means she is as delicate on the inside as she is on the out.'

0:31:110:31:15

-There you go.

-Thank you very much.

-You're very welcome.

-Thank you.

0:31:150:31:20

-Shall I hold it?

-Yeah, please, if you can. Thank you!

0:31:210:31:25

I need to sieve my food for two reasons. One is I've got a narrowing in my throat from scarring

0:31:260:31:34

from blisters and stuff from a child and growing up.

0:31:340:31:37

And it's preventative, as well, because I don't want any more blisters in there

0:31:370:31:42

or blisters on my tongue or round my mouth and stuff,

0:31:420:31:45

because once a blister occurs, it blocks the throat even more,

0:31:450:31:49

so then I just can't swallow anything. It is difficult.

0:31:490:31:54

'It's a time-consuming process, but the slightest lump could choke Sam.'

0:31:540:31:58

It is scary and I hate it because it's such a struggle to even take my medicines and stuff.

0:31:580:32:03

People don't realise, it's not just about the external,

0:32:030:32:07

it's the internal, it's the worry of skin cancer as you get older,

0:32:070:32:13

constant breakdown and blistering

0:32:130:32:17

and...regeneration of the skin

0:32:170:32:21

and...

0:32:210:32:23

God, so many things.

0:32:230:32:26

-Can I take that for you?

-Oh, thank you.

-Run that through the rinser.

0:32:260:32:30

-Sure.

-Oh, that's really kind.

0:32:300:32:32

And it is fine. Rock on.

0:32:320:32:37

'While life on the road is much more difficult for Sam, it's a price she's willing to pay.'

0:32:370:32:41

I'm lucky enough to have found something that I deeply, deeply enjoy.

0:32:410:32:47

I probably will have to stop at some point, definitely.

0:32:470:32:50

Because if it gets to a point where I am needing a lot more care,

0:32:500:32:56

then it's not going to be possible.

0:32:560:32:59

So that's why it's like make the most of now, you know?

0:32:590:33:02

-I don't want to think about that.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:33:050:33:08

'It's just days until the end of the trip and Sam hasn't seen any tornados yet.

0:33:440:33:50

'But there's something brewing on the horizon.

0:33:530:33:56

'The emergency radio has gone into overdrive.'

0:33:590:34:02

Tornado warning,

0:34:020:34:05

which is really exciting!

0:34:050:34:07

RADIO: "The storm is located five miles west..."

0:34:070:34:11

'A huge series of storms is ploughing through Missouri.'

0:34:110:34:14

"Weather Service meteorologists are tracking a severe thunderstorm..."

0:34:140:34:18

'After 4,000 miles driving, it's been a long time coming.'

0:34:180:34:22

'..a tornado capable of producing large damaging hail up to baseball size."

0:34:230:34:28

Oooh!

0:34:280:34:30

Oh, this is what we wanted!

0:34:300:34:33

"..tracking a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado."

0:34:340:34:38

SHE SQUEALS

0:34:380:34:41

Excited, excited. Nervous about getting in the right position

0:34:440:34:48

and nervous about what the roads might be doing, what road networks we've got.

0:34:480:34:52

This is the best day we've had the whole trip.

0:34:520:34:56

'But as they latch onto the storm, black skies spell danger.'

0:34:580:35:01

Oh, wow.

0:35:030:35:05

'The town is deserted. People have scurried away from what the storm might bring.

0:35:070:35:11

'But Sam pushes on.'

0:35:110:35:14

It gets that dark, birds think it's time to roost. They go to bed.

0:35:140:35:18

'It's the most ominous storm they've seen,

0:35:200:35:23

'but it's leading them down some rough roads.

0:35:230:35:27

'The dirt tracks can quickly turn into a swamp

0:35:270:35:30

'and a stuck car can be the difference between life and death.'

0:35:300:35:34

The risks are definitely very strong wind gusts from this,

0:35:340:35:37

hail and this road is not good, cos the back end slid round that corner.

0:35:370:35:40

This is getting quite muddy now.

0:35:400:35:43

-Any more rain on this road and...

-Slow down a bit here.

-I am.

0:35:430:35:49

'Winds batter the car and their path is strewn with debris.'

0:35:490:35:52

-Go over it. Go over it. Just go straight over it.

-Straight over it?

-Yeah.

0:35:520:35:57

Just get some momentum going.

0:35:580:36:00

'Conditions are worsening by the second

0:36:000:36:02

'and Sam is not happy.'

0:36:020:36:04

I think we should turn round, don't you?

0:36:040:36:07

'A false turn could put them in the path of a deadly tornado.'

0:36:070:36:11

I'm not happy about this.

0:36:110:36:14

-Jesus Christ.

-'There's an epic storm right next to them

0:36:160:36:21

'but they can't see it for the trees.

0:36:210:36:24

'Huge hail starts nailing the car.

0:36:250:36:28

'The road is turning to mud and visibility is terrible.

0:36:300:36:33

'This is every stormchaser's nightmare.

0:36:360:36:39

Do you really think it's safe to be right near these trees? I don't want anything to fly through the window.

0:36:410:36:46

There is baseball-size hail in this and if it shatters the windscreen, you're in a mess.

0:36:460:36:52

'Finally they get onto a decent road, but the storm is just getting started.'

0:36:530:36:58

We are right under it. It's just bonkers.

0:36:580:37:00

-Go!

-Go! Go! Go! Go!

0:37:000:37:03

-Which way?

-Right.

0:37:050:37:07

'With lightning hammering down, Sam knows it's time to get out.

0:37:080:37:12

'As the storm turns into something incredible.'

0:37:140:37:17

THUNDER BOOMS

0:37:170:37:20

This is absolutely beautiful. The rotation in the storm is absolutely mega.

0:37:210:37:26

Right above us you can see the clouds going this way, that way, just swirling around.

0:37:260:37:31

OK, let's go!

0:37:310:37:34

This whole storm is definitely rotating.

0:37:360:37:39

It's absolutely amazing to see. It just blows the mind.

0:37:390:37:44

Every storm is different. Every storm has something different to show you.

0:37:460:37:50

Definitely why I keep coming back, without a doubt.

0:37:500:37:53

The whole thing is just swirling!

0:37:560:37:59

That is insane!

0:37:590:38:01

Whoo!

0:38:050:38:07

Unbelievable!

0:38:080:38:10

Very windy!

0:38:100:38:12

SHE SCREAMS

0:38:160:38:18

-Wow!

-SHE SQUEALS

0:38:190:38:24

-It's amazing!

-'This is one violent storm,

0:38:240:38:28

-'but Sam's ultimate goal is to see the tornados inside.'

-Listen that! Beauty!

0:38:280:38:34

-'If they get too close, they're in trouble.'

-Ohh!

0:38:340:38:39

'But still they push on.'

0:38:450:38:47

That was just unbelievable,

0:38:470:38:51

to be as close as that to the thunder is just...

0:38:510:38:55

Agh! I love that noise!

0:38:550:38:58

I don't want to say! I don't want to say whether we'll see a tornado today or not.

0:39:030:39:09

Very, very, very difficult

0:39:090:39:11

to... to get that final step.

0:39:110:39:15

That's why it's the icing on the cake.

0:39:150:39:18

I want it to drop a tornado on us now.

0:39:180:39:20

'As they pass the turn-off to a town called Joplin, it's obvious that something is deeply wrong.'

0:39:270:39:32

RADIO: "There is a large, damaging tornado in the Joplin area that has touched down there."

0:39:320:39:37

'Traffic is gridlocked and emergency vehicles are struggling to get through.'

0:39:370:39:41

"Large damaging hail up to baseball size that is still working its way

0:39:410:39:46

"into western Christian, northern Stone and southwestern Greene counties in Southwest Missouri."

0:39:460:39:52

SIREN BLARES

0:39:520:39:55

'Further down the road, their path is completely blocked.'

0:39:570:40:01

I think this is just a heightened alert. Maybe something has happened ahead, I don't know.

0:40:010:40:06

We may have to turn around.

0:40:060:40:09

This has just been an absolutely bonkers day.

0:40:090:40:13

'It's a scene of confusion but one thing is clear.

0:40:150:40:18

'The police road block means today's chase is over for Sam and Keith.'

0:40:180:40:23

SIREN WAILS

0:40:300:40:32

'As the road opens up, I get a glimpse of what's been happening.

0:40:390:40:42

'A tornado has scythed through a neighbourhood.

0:40:450:40:48

'Cars and boats tossed around.

0:40:520:40:55

'Trees plucked from the ground and thrown like toys.

0:40:560:41:00

'Homes torn apart.'

0:41:010:41:04

We were watching from behind. I didn't know it touched the ground but Brandon said it did.

0:41:060:41:11

And I came on through here and I couldn't believe what was going on.

0:41:110:41:15

We haven't had a tornado hit through here in 20 years. Well, I guess that changed today.

0:41:190:41:23

This is my trailer laid out in the yard.

0:41:260:41:29

Over there.

0:41:290:41:31

If you can see it. There's my boat.

0:41:310:41:34

I got no roof, walls gone.

0:41:400:41:44

Rebuild. Rebuild it, that's all I can do.

0:41:440:41:47

We just finished this little house. I got Buddy, though.

0:41:510:41:55

This tree here, man, over 100 years old. It's gone, man.

0:42:080:42:13

This is a wonderful place to live, right here.

0:42:160:42:19

Tornados just don't hit this area.

0:42:190:42:22

-Apart from this year.

-Yeah. Yeah. It happened this year.

0:42:220:42:27

THUNDER BOOMS

0:42:360:42:39

RADIO: "You're listening to FM 102.9, AM 1310."

0:42:420:42:46

'The following morning, the reality of what's happened starts to become apparent.

0:42:460:42:52

'The storms that Sam was chasing contained a set of vicious tornados.

0:42:520:42:56

'Reports are coming in that the town of Joplin has been devastated.'

0:42:560:43:01

RADIO: "Power crews are working to bring everyone back online.

0:43:010:43:05

"Still reports of leaking gas around the city of Joplin.

0:43:050:43:08

"The tornado that hit Joplin has caused significant damage to at least four school buildings in...

0:43:080:43:13

"As far as how many people have been killed, that number is still elusive

0:43:130:43:17

"but we have heard numbers kicked around in the 20s. But none that are confirmed so far.

0:43:170:43:21

-"Something was on fire and I could see it because there was nothing standing."

-"Yeah."

0:43:210:43:26

"There's just nothing there."

0:43:260:43:29

'Joplin is in lockdown.

0:43:320:43:35

'There are more huge storms forecast and Sam's focus has shifted from chasing the storms

0:43:350:43:40

'to warning others away from them.'

0:43:400:43:42

I just hope that perhaps today we can be of benefit to people,

0:43:420:43:46

because with everybody being so on the case of search and rescue,

0:43:460:43:51

and people aren't aware of what dangers are probably going to come across them today.

0:43:510:43:56

So hopefully we can be of some use in that way.

0:43:560:43:59

RADIO: "..the disaster that is Joplin.

0:44:090:44:11

"It is going to be a long, slow, dedicated process.

0:44:110:44:15

"It just is simply devastating that our folks are desperately trying to check on loved ones, family members

0:44:150:44:20

"to make sure that they are OK."

0:44:200:44:23

'What's happened in Joplin has made headlines around the world.

0:44:240:44:28

'Sam's immediate concerns are about the storms still to come.'

0:44:280:44:32

-RADIO: "Tornado warnings are in effect. We expect additional tornado warnings..."

-Wow!

0:44:320:44:39

Everything is just right in the atmosphere at the moment.

0:44:390:44:42

There could be a very severe outbreak.

0:44:420:44:45

-'As Sam tries to get into position, something blocks the way.'

-That's a funnel cloud.

-Yep.

0:44:480:44:53

We might need to turn around really, really quickly.

0:44:530:44:56

'A funnel cloud, a tornado that hasn't hit the ground, is in their path.

0:44:570:45:01

'The race is on to try and get ahead of it, and hopefully see it grow into a twister.'

0:45:010:45:06

That was a definite funnel cloud.

0:45:080:45:10

Rotating majorly fast. That's got the potential to just keep going

0:45:110:45:17

for a very, very long time.

0:45:170:45:20

It's not safe to get out here because of major cloud-to-ground lightning.

0:45:230:45:28

'And as lightning pummels the ground, the storm grows and grows.'

0:45:300:45:34

This is a major supercell, real major rotation in it. It could last forever and ever.

0:45:340:45:40

Sadly for towns, because this is looking like Joplin on radar.

0:45:400:45:45

'This has the makings of a perfect storm to chase. But there seems to be a shift in Sam's mood.'

0:45:470:45:52

This is really quite dangerous.

0:45:530:45:56

As more storms build, we don't want to get wedged in between anything

0:45:560:46:01

where we can't escape.

0:46:010:46:03

We're in a tornado-warned county here, with this red. We're in the middle of it.

0:46:030:46:08

There are going to be tornados everywhere. They'll probably have hundreds of reports today. Hundreds.

0:46:080:46:14

'The reality of what could be happening nearby is hitting Sam hard.'

0:46:190:46:24

-You all right?

-Yeah, I'm just worried about people being killed.

0:46:240:46:27

This is the first time ever on a chase that it's made me upset.

0:46:310:46:35

But just seeing that and hearing that, and seeing what's been on the news the past couple of days,

0:46:350:46:42

it's just hit me.

0:46:420:46:44

Lots... Hundreds of people could be killed today.

0:46:450:46:47

'But Sam's expertise and equipment can make a difference, and locals turn to her for help.'

0:46:500:46:54

-It's straight ahead of you.

-Straight ahead?

-Yeah.

-So we just need to stop right now?

0:46:540:46:59

-I would stop.

-Yeah, I would stop.

-Stay right here?

-Stay here for a bit.

-OK. Thank you.

-No problem.

0:46:590:47:05

-Is something coming this way?

-You can see on radar here, there are several storms here

0:47:060:47:11

-going north and they will probably begin to go northeast.

-Any tornados coming this way?

0:47:110:47:17

There are tornados on the ground at this moment. Be aware and be careful.

0:47:170:47:21

-All right. Thanks.

-No problem. Stay safe.

0:47:210:47:24

'And then, out of the gloom, a massive shape emerges.'

0:47:290:47:34

A big wedge tornado crossing a field.

0:47:350:47:38

-Blimey!

-'This is the moment Sam has been waiting for all her life.'

0:47:400:47:47

You can definitely see that definition. You can actually see sort of, like a weird wedge shape,

0:47:470:47:51

right in the middle, just slowly crossing the field.

0:47:510:47:56

'The ultimate tornado.

0:47:560:47:59

'200 miles an hour winds, hail the size of grapefruit,

0:47:590:48:03

'and it's sweeping in behind them.'

0:48:030:48:05

We need to get out of this precip fast.

0:48:050:48:08

That is the first wedge tornado I've ever seen.

0:48:160:48:19

So that is not good for any people in its way.

0:48:190:48:24

-What do you reckon, a mile away?

-Yeah.

0:48:240:48:27

I mean, look at that! That's insane.

0:48:270:48:30

Just be aware of it growing in size.

0:48:330:48:36

We don't want to get in the debris field or anything.

0:48:380:48:41

-But we're OK to go on, aren't we?

-Yeah.

0:48:460:48:49

'Just a few days earlier, Sam would have been thrilled by this sight.

0:48:490:48:53

'But now she's worried about what damage this enormous storm could be doing.'

0:48:530:48:57

Blimey! That is a destructive beast.

0:48:570:49:01

'In the path of the storm is the town of Stillwater.

0:49:010:49:04

'It could be the next place to be torn apart.'

0:49:040:49:07

Stillwater could be completely annihilated now.

0:49:070:49:10

We don't know that for sure, but if the tornado has crossed through Stillwater,

0:49:100:49:17

it will be no more.

0:49:170:49:21

'But when they arrive, Stillwater has had a miraculous escape.

0:49:260:49:31

'The tornado had just shaved the outskirts of town.'

0:49:310:49:35

We thought we were going to see, you know, the whole thing just trashed,

0:49:390:49:44

but luckily it's just tree damage and bits of corrugated iron from somewhere.

0:49:440:49:49

Seeing the wedge tornado, that's something I've wanted to see for years and years and years.

0:49:510:49:57

So it's been like a weird bit of 50-50 feeling of major excitement that we've done it

0:49:570:50:02

but then to think that people's lives have been in danger and what's happened in Joplin, as well.

0:50:020:50:07

Just, it kind of really hit home to me that what we were seeing on radar could potentially be killing people.

0:50:070:50:14

And it was just quite surreal, really.

0:50:140:50:19

'A stroke of luck means Stillwater can remain a small town in America,

0:50:230:50:27

'unknown to most of the world.

0:50:270:50:29

'But the random path of the storms means that Joplin has become infamous.'

0:50:370:50:42

Oh, my God.

0:50:480:50:50

SHE GASPS

0:50:500:50:52

'The storms that Sam chased produced the Joplin twister. It was the deadliest single tornado ever.'

0:51:100:51:16

Jeez, Keith, seriously. That is the start of it there.

0:51:190:51:22

And then all of a sudden it's just absolute carnage.

0:51:220:51:26

RADIO: "It's going to be a long, slow, dedicated process.

0:51:380:51:42

"And it will call for the help of neighbours, friends, family to make it through

0:51:420:51:46

"the aftermath of this tornado.

0:51:460:51:48

"We will get through this disaster. We'll get through it together."

0:51:480:51:53

This is unbelievable.

0:51:560:51:58

I don't even know what my first thoughts were, to be honest.

0:52:010:52:04

I just can't believe...

0:52:040:52:06

I just couldn't... I can't... No, I...

0:52:060:52:10

This is just... It just looks like a war zone.

0:52:160:52:20

It just goes on forever, it goes on for as far as the eye can see.

0:52:250:52:31

Unbelievable. That is so tragic.

0:52:340:52:37

I just can't imagine

0:52:390:52:41

anyone stuck under this rubble and having to leave your child behind,

0:52:410:52:47

or your mum or your sister or brother.

0:52:470:52:50

It just makes me feel like, you know, if I ever lost any of my family in something like this...

0:52:500:52:57

..I don't know what I'd do without them anyway but,

0:52:580:53:02

in something like this, and then to see it, it's just...

0:53:020:53:05

They must have been so scared.

0:53:070:53:10

I can't look at those.

0:53:100:53:13

'More than 150 people in the town of Joplin lost their lives in the blink of an eye.'

0:53:380:53:45

'After three weeks, the trip is coming to an end for Sam.

0:54:100:54:13

'Her presence in Tornado Alley has caused quite a stir, and Fox News want to meet her.'

0:54:130:54:19

Thank you. Aw, thank you very much. Cheers.

0:54:190:54:22

SHE LAUGHS

0:54:270:54:30

Stand by, in five, four, three...

0:54:300:54:34

There are a lot of stormchasers out there, but you're about to meet one who is very inspirational.

0:54:370:54:42

Er, how do you do it?

0:54:420:54:45

It's my passion, it's my love and life is too short and we've definitely seen that, I think,

0:54:450:54:50

this May with the tragedies that have happened through the storms.

0:54:500:54:53

-And when I go home, I'll just sleep it off.

-SHE LAUGHS

0:54:530:54:57

On one hand, it was the best trip of our lives, because we got to see some amazing weather.

0:54:590:55:06

But then to see the destruction, it does something weird to your whole being.

0:55:060:55:12

But it won't stop me stormchasing. No way.

0:55:120:55:14

Because I like to think that when we do chase, that we help people, as well.

0:55:140:55:18

-Excellent. Very nice.

-That was brilliant. Thank you so, so much.

-No problem.

0:55:220:55:27

Thank you so much, Sam, seriously. Let me grab my phone here real quick.

0:55:270:55:31

-He's really fit.

-HE LAUGHS

0:55:310:55:35

-Let me get rid of your mic before we forget that.

-I hope he didn't hear that.

0:55:360:55:41

-SHE SQUEALS

-Amazing!

0:55:460:55:50

No question about it, it's definitely hard for me to go chasing storms, you know.

0:55:500:55:55

It's something that I enjoy doing and life's too short not to do what you love.

0:55:550:55:59

-Just get out there and do it, for goodness sake!

-SHE LAUGHS

0:56:000:56:03

'And if you ever find yourself in Tornado Alley,

0:56:030:56:07

'keep an eye out for a butterfly who's sure to be kicking up a storm.'

0:56:070:56:11

Oh, my God! There I am. Agh! Oh, wow!

0:56:120:56:16

-Oh, it's dead weird, isn't it?

-SHE LAUGHS

0:56:160:56:21

This is Sam Hall signing off and stay safe. Ta-ta!

0:56:210:56:24

SHE LAUGHS

0:56:240:56:26

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:56:270:56:31

E-mail [email protected]

0:56:310:56:35

.

0:56:350:56:35

Documentary which follows tornado researcher and weather fanatic Sam Hall on an epic road trip across the US in search of some of the planet's most violent storms. This would be a gruelling trip for the toughest of individuals, but there's an added challenge for Sam as she has a skin condition known as Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB. The layers of her skin don't stick together and so even the slightest knock can tear or blister her skin. Once out in the States, Sam is intoxicated by the brutal tempests she encounters, but her excitement soon turns to trepidation as she heads right into the middle of America's worst ever tornados.


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