BELLEVILLE, Ill. – FOX 2 first reported the aftermath and the toppled radio tower at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois, on April 18.
The National Weather Service said an EF1 tornado with winds of 98 miles per hour had been on the ground for three miles west of Belleville.
“We have a lot of volunteers that come on sight and read and record printed materials for individuals with print impairments,” said Laura Foughty, development and communications coordinator at MindsEye Radio. “They were forced to go back home and do all that at home like we did during COVID. We had a lot of volunteers that come to the studio that are older and don’t necessarily have the technology to do that, so we had to fill a lot of gaps very quickly.”
MindsEye Radio, an information service for the blind and visually impaired, had to make other arrangements while they were out of their building. However, after the tower was removed on Friday, it was back to business for this nonprofit. The tower toppled over just as the service celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“When we had to shut down due to the storm, we started using Discord,” said Mark Stangl, a volunteer. “That’s really a good platform for that. We were able to continue that, but today coming back was great. I had missed it. It’s part of my weekly thing that I do.”
For decades, short-wave radios were sent out into homes for those with visual impairments so they could hear descriptive grocery ads and articles. However, with technology like the Echo Dot or an iOS app, they can now reach around the globe.
“With the help of the media coverage, we got almost 50 new volunteer applications right after that incident,” Foughty said. “We were able to fill some of the programming gaps when we lost some of our volunteers. It takes so many volunteers to keep a radio information service going, so it’s just wonderful to be back with them.”
Foughty said that with new volunteers, they’ve been able to expand coverage to include Cardinals games and City SC soccer matches.