Kansans keeping an eye on Isaac

Wichita residents may have seen a familiar face on television over the weekend.

James Williams, spokesman for the Midway Kansas chapter of the American Red Cross, was interviewed on the Weather Channel about preparations being made for the imminent arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac in Florida.

Williams was sent to Miami last week as part of an advance public relations team to let media around the world know what the Red Cross is doing to assist those affected by the storm. He told me he’d be there for about a week. He shared this photo from Key West, where Isaac struck over the weekend.

This isn’t Williams’ first brush with a tropical storm/hurricane. He was sent to the East Coast last fall to assist the local Red Cross when Hurricane Irene struck the Northeast.

“It was an eye-opening experience that helped me prepare for the public affairs demands during and after the Wichita tornado” in April, Williams said in an e-mail response to questions.

He’s packed a smartphone with GPS, a DSLR camera, a flip cam and laptop with Skype. But he also added wet wipes, in case the water went out, and granola “if you’re stranded without a meal,” he said.

“These are incredible adventures,” Williams said. “It takes a great deal of flexibility, but from the moment you arrive they’re some of the most rewarding 14-hour days of your life.”

Local storm chaser and extreme weather photographer Jim Reed will be documenting Isaac with Dag Kittlaus, cofounder of Siri – the voice iPhone users hear when they ask for directions or assistance. They left for the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday with assistant Katelyn Pfeister.