Survivors of the tornado that leveled the town of Greensburg, Kansas, late Friday night remained dumbfounded and terrorized as they returned to the scene Monday morning. Reporters roamed the rubble to find ways to describe the devastation their TV cameras panned for the viewing audience. But one particular interview caught my attention: U.S. congressional representative Dennis McKinney and his daughter talked to Fox News morning talk show host Brian Kilmead about their experience as the twister approached their home.
The congressman described how they stood at the back door, yelling for their next door neighbor, a young mother and her baby, to come to take shelter with them. They waited and waited for her. She did not arrive, but the twister roared their way. He sent his daughter below to the basement. Then the winds began to rip the roof off their house, and he could wait no longer for the neighbor to arrive at his door. He headed below to the basement himself. Huddled in the bathtub with his daughter, he heard her begin to pray—not for their own safety, but for the safety of the young neighbor and her baby.
Moments later after the tornado had passed, they crawled out of the basement and headed for safety. Next door, they saw only a pile of rubble and knew the neighbor and her baby must be dead. But then they heard a weak voice, "My baby. Somebody help my baby." Sure enough, they pulled a few planks from the pile, and the baby lay there naked, but unscratched. Then with help from others standing nearby, the mother was pulled from the wreckage unharmed as well.
Congressman McKinney and his daughter, looking into the Fox News camera on Monday morning, still appeared to be traumatized as they recounted discovering their neighbor and her tiny son alive. A dramatic story, yes, but then the final question from interviewer Kilmead was something about the father’s "feelings" during this terrible ordeal. His was not a politician’s response. It was not a rock star’s response. It was not a CEO’s response. He said simply: "I’ve never been prouder as a father—to see my daughter huddled in that bathtub, not praying for our safety, but concerned for somebody else."
Quite an emotional moment caught on a morning news broadcast. Those on the set seemed stunned themselves.
What parent could not identify? What parent could not dream their child would have the same strength of character in crisis?
Communication at its deepest level involves emotional connection.