Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel and Steve Watson, a native Clevelander who was in Bradley County just two days after the April 27 disasters here, shot a promotional piece Saturday for The Weather Channel which will air in December.
Watson, a home improvement television guru, once again had the opportunity to return home from California to videotape the promotion which will advertise The Weather Channel’s “Epic Christmas.”
The idea is to get nominations of heroes through The Weather Channel’s Facebook page, and provide the winner with a Christmas to remember, according to Watson and Patrick Piper, a senior writer and producer.
“This is the first of this type of show for The Weather Channel,” Piper said.
Bettes, who was in Joplin, Mo., minutes after twisters destroyed the town and killed over 100 people, became emotional as he surveyed the destruction there.
Bettes said he observed “heroes” in action as rescue efforts began.
“This has happened in every town I have visited this year after weather disasters. It is very unfortunate that The Weather Channel has visited a lot of towns this year,” Bettes said Saturday during a break from shooting the TV promotion.
“The people who are heroes of the tragedies have renewed the spirit of America. People have come together in the face of these tragedies,” Bettes said.
Three, one-half hour shows will be aired, culminating in December.
Heather Urban, supervising producer for Pie Town Productions said this is the first time the company has worked with The Weather Channel.
“The Weather Channel wants to get more into original programming and reality or docu-soap productions.
Bettes, Watson and the Pie Town crews, along with The Weather Channel crews, will be “scanning the country in search of those standout heroes, one who will receive an ‘Epic Christmas,’” according to Watson.
“When you survey damage, you put yourself into the position of the people who had to live it,” said Bettes.
Bradley County and Cleveland have made steady recovery effort, although there is still much to do and many victims of the April 27 storms continue to have unmet needs.
The crews visited the Disaster Relief Center on Barney’s Lane and Salvation Army volunteers who have been a crucial part of sustaining the unmet needs of the tornado victims.
“These people are heroes,” said Watson.
While in Bradley County on April 29, Watson observed what had happened to his hometown. Watson and several other local business friends established bradleydisasterrelief.org, through Bradley/Cleveland Disaster Relief, and held its first fundraising event for what would become the Long-Term Relief Organization.
“The efforts have been outstanding, but we need more money and supplies to help,” Watson said.
Watson reached out to companies he had dealt with in his television career, getting supplies and much needed safety equipment for community cleanup.
Bettes and Watson both agreed that damage here and across the country, was “hard to look at.”
“No matter what area you are in, it’s hard to look at and then put yourself in the position of the people,” Bettes said.
Bettes, who is based in Atlanta with The Weather Channel, brought along his adopted canine, ‘Joplyn,’ who he adopted one month after the Joplin disaster.
“We were doing a story on the ‘Adopt-a-Thon’ and Joplyn caught my attention,” Bettes said.
A few years ago, Watson did the same thing after he and Original Productions crews spent several weeks in Cleveland for a homecoming event for “Monster House,” a Discovery Television program.
Watson and local builders rebuilt the Cleveland Animal Shelter and then he took a canine to California.
Watson has worked on a number of television shows including “Monster House,” HGTV’s “Don’t Sweat It” and some Fox Sports programming.
An official press release from The Weather Channel is forthcoming which will announce all nomination details regarding heroes.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to bring a little TV to my hometown,” Watson said. “This one is different because we’re highlighting the heroism that followed the tragic storms of April 27. I’m excited to be working with The Weather Channel to find local heroes from around the country who’ve stepped up the way so many did in East Tennessee. And to start in Cleveland makes it that much sweeter for me.”