BlackBerrys and Tornados

By ViperSBT on 6 Jul 2009 09:27 am EDT

This is a user submitted story from member Brett W (username ViperSBT). Note that the events of this story occur in the past - February 2008.


I bought my 8700 August of 2006 and have used and abused it the whole time. I have dropped it more times than I care to admit, but it has always worked and has never given me any problems nor has it ever lost its good looks... :) Last Christmas my wife (then 6 months pregnant) had a 12 month old Motorola Razor that with less use and abuse than my BlackBerry was in very rough shape (the screen was almost unusable). Being the thoughtful husband I am, I got her a new Blackberry 8310. She immediately fell in love with it and has been very happy with it ever since.

With that said, last Tuesday evening (Feb 5th, 2008) we were at our church by ourselves and I was working on some video editing for our church's television broadcast. My wife was monitoring weather on her BlackBerry and mine was sitting on the counter next to me. She was monitoring the weather because we were in the middle of a very bad storm and there were Tornado warnings. Everything we were watching was telling us the tornadoes were likely to be north of us, but that did not turn out to be the case.

When the tornado hit our church my wife and I had huddled together in the center of the building just before the building blew apart -- there was nothing left when it was over. We were buried under a bunch of chairs that protected us as everything else was flying around us. When it finished I asked my wife if she managed to keep her BlackBerry and she had. So she called 911 and let them know where we were and help was on the way. I took my wife's phone and started trying to call other people that we knew near by, but couldn't get any signal. It wasn't but a few minutes after that when we started hearing the sirens and eventually could hear the voices of the rescue workers looking for us. My wife began calling out to them and they could hear us but couldn't see us, so I turned on the screen's backlight and started shining it in their direction, they quickly picked it out (it was around 9pm so it was very dark) and got us uncovered. We rushed to the hospital to check and make sure that the baby was OK as well and everything has turned out fine.

I sat in the hospital thinking about all that had happened and the one thing that I kept thinking about was losing my trusted BlackBerry. I knew it was a goner, ever since buying the 8310 for my wife I had been considering an 8820, but at the same time not seeing a reason to buy one when my 8700 was still such a great phone. The next morning I went out to the church to look around a little bit to see if there was any chance at all of finding my phone. Thinking about the incredible wind and force that swept it up, along with all the rain that it would have had to gone through the rest of the night I just knew that even if I had found it, it would be DOA. I asked a friend that was there with me to try calling my phone, he laughed at me thinking the same thing I had been but he went ahead and did it. Seconds later we heard my phone ringing!!! We started digging through the rubble and found it buried below a bunch of mud and debris just ringing away. The screen showed I had missed a lot of calls and had a lot of voicemail from all the people that were checking on us. The keyboard and click-wheel were not working as I figured so I pulled the battery to shut it down.

I figured I would give it a few hours to dry out and try it again. I got home and let it rest for awhile, then I went out to my workshop and brushed off all the mud and gunk that was covering the phone. I cleaned it as best I could, went back in and put in the battery and it fired right up... I was excited, but still pessimistic knowing it wasn't going to work. The wheel was working, but not clicking and the keyboard was only partially working and was double entering entries... I pulled the battery and thought that if it doesn't work in the morning, it just isn't going to work.

The next morning I got up and went back to my trusted BlackBerry and put the battery in and turned it back on. It started up. It was back to working just like it had before the storm!!! The only difference now versus then is that it has a big scratch on the screen and a crack in the case, but it is still working as good as always.

RIM has built an incredible product, it has served me well and has far exceeded all of my expectations. Anyone that ever asks me about what kind of phone to buy I have always encouraged them to get a BlackBerry device and will even more so urge them now.

Here are some links to show what happened:

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Topics: Editorial

Reader comments

BlackBerrys and Tornados


holy crap man
glad everything was ok with you and your wife
jesus reading that up there gave me goosebumps of how insane and scary that would've been being under all that and hearing the wind gussing and man

just glad everythign was ok with you guys and no one got hurt

I had to read the name a few times since I'm also "Brett W" ..I was like "I took a picture of a tornado?" ha.

Thats a pretty intense story and even more amazing that all this happened and you got out unscathed. Looking at that picture that's quite a horrific sight.
It's a testament to the build quality of RIM's products before the Bold and Storm. Had that been one of the newer products, $100 it wouldn't have survived, then again I could be wrong... does insurance cover tornado damage?

Great story! It's good to know you and your wife made it through that storm ok. Oh, and we cant't forget the baby. Man, and I thought those old school Nokia phones was the toughest phones ever made. I love my berry. Thanks for the story ViperSBT.

This is to good to be true.....I wonder if in the end he got a new phone or stuck with the storm survivor? I hope RIM saw this story on the news and updated him and his wife with two brand new Blackberries.

Then again if a Blackberry can survive the use of Niomi (did I spell that right?) I think it can survive a storm

Praise the Lord everyone was o.k!!!

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

Wow! Amazing story. Glad to hear you and your fam made it out safe. This, im sure, is just one of a million "BB Life" stories. Similar to that guy that left his berry in a neighbor's car that ended up saving her life.... or the recent skier or that guy trapped in his room during the Marriott bombing in Pakistan. RIM should do an ad campaign using these stories. Finding real people living on their berrys, telling their real life stories... It would be a HIT!!

Wow, what an amazing story! Glad to hear you and your wife got through the ordeal with minimal injuries. Even more amazing that your BB, although a little beat up, continues to work as designed.

God is amazing!! Thats awesome that your ok... and now you got a good story.. this makes me excited to get my blackberry... Hopfully I will be getting the storm here on the 13th!

The tornadoes of Feb 5th 2008 were AWFUL here in West Tennessee. Wiped out the dorms at a local university, and amazingly nobody died there. Unfortunately those storms DID kill many people. I work for the Highway Patrol in Jackson, TN...which was a little north of that church, and I was working that night. I remember the county calling and asking us for help when they got hit in Savannah. I remember being told the church had been hit, and I remember being thankful that it wasn't a Wednesday evening, as here in TN, most people are AT church at that time.

We had tornado warnings just the other night, and the first thing I grabbed to take to shelter with me was my Blackberry. Hopefully I will never NEED mine in that situation. Glad they had theirs.

I had to read the name a few times since I'm also "Brett W" ..I was like "I took a picture of a tornado?" ha.

That is amazing. Glad you are okay. Tornadoes are scary. Like you, I've been there, done that.

The one that hit my small town in Ms on March 26th hit at 1:25 AM. Talk about a hell of a way to wake up! When I'd gone to bed that night, the news said bad thunderbangers but didn't really seem to think the storm system would spawn tornadoes. My brother woke up and turned on the tv. The tv said the bad weather was dissipating and things were getting back to normal. Minutes later the power went out. Probably at the same time that a huge, brick two story church was torn to shreds. Minutes later it roared through the trailer park I live in. One home was completely destroyed, others like mine, badly damaged.

I woke up because the power went off and I guess everything got so quiet. My only thought was darn, no power. I hate it when the power goes out. Then I heard the tornado. People say a tornado sounds like a freight train, to me, it sounded like a freight train on steroids. All I had time to do was toss a prayer to the Lord and think, Oh God, this is the real thing. I've told others, there's nothing like it when your home moves under your feet.

It was just shy of being an F4 tornado and it tracked 17 miles on the ground. It destoryed 30 homes and badly damaged more than 30 more. I guess I should be frightened of still living in a mobile home but I'm not. Not when I look at the subdivision it hit ater it hit us. Fifteen out of 18 brick homes, gone. My trailer did better than that. And really, if that was an F3, almost F4 tornado, I really really don't want to see an F5. Can't imagine it. The blessing of course, no fatalities. We were very blessed.

Glad your bb survived to! That would definitely be a horrible, horrible fatality. :)



Wow! I'm glad to hear the baby and everyone was alright. I have recently purchased my first bb, the storm, (no pun intended) and can't put it down. Now it's nice to know that through rain or shine it will always be there. :)

So like a week or two ago I fell asleep on my blackberry and I guess I drooled on it when I woke up it did not work the keyboard was. Dubble typing and the trackball was not working but today I went just to try it again and still nothing so I was upset. But I got a feeling to spray wd-40 on it and it instantly started working when I did a battery pull.

That is AMAZING!
And God really does work in mysterious ways.. Haha.
This should be entered in like a BB Story contest!!!

Living in Tornado Alley, I have had my share of near misses. Would be good have an app that really worked for these kinds of warnings. Weatherbug used to be good but they really messed up the app in the last year.

i'm sure the razors antenna was damaged by a direct hit, therefore making the blackberry just "lucky" that it did not suffer a hit. That is why the BB was still working but the razor did not. Also, i'm sure the razor's backlight would have assisted as well. I'm very happy you guys are all safe and you were able to get out alive, and recover your items, but this is a phone story, not a specific blackberry story. Also, after the water dries on those chips, i'm worried about that blessed blackberry corroding right in front of your eyes. If it does corrode slowly, you should put it in a vaccuum tight case almost like what you would put a signed football or baseball in. And you can put on your fireplace mantle and put a plaque, lol. thats what i would do atleast.
Congrats and Konichiwa B1ches

The Angels were definitly sent to watch over you, your wife and baby that day! Thank you for sharing such an uplifting story so that everyone can see God works in today's world too - even through a Blackberry!

I can't believe that this article generated so much response. Thank you everyone for your well wishes and comments. My wife and I have been blessed with a now 13 month old little girl that we named Lydia Hope.

I wrote this article as a testament to RIM for building a great device and what IMHO is the best Smartphone around.

As a followup, my wife still has her 8310 and loves it. I now have an 8820 (well protected in an Otterbox, just in case) and the 8700 that was buried in the mud is securely set in our Storm Shelter. I just checked in on it last night and it is still working perfect 17 months later.