Page 10 - Discover Winter 2021
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      ambulance, as he thought he was having a heart         because of an impending hurricane. They left too
      attack or stroke.                                      late, and ended up following the storm inland rather
                                                             than out-running it. Most children, and even many
             “Knowing the ambulance was on the way and
                                                             adults, would have been terrified. Instead, Jamey was
      fearing I was having a heart attack made the attack
                                                             fascinated by the fury and strength of the storm. In
      worse,” he said with a laugh.
                                                             some way it must have spoken to him, because after
             When the EMT folks took his vitals, his         that the weather became the beloved super hero in
      blood pressure was 210 over 125 (normal blood          his life.
      pressure is below 120’s over 80) and his “resting”
                                                                    He began giving “weather reports” at home
      heart rate was 137.
                                                             using a spatula or butter knife to point to fronts on
             The anxiety attacks started sometime in high    his imaginary “weather map”.  When he wasn’t in
      school, Jamey says, when he develop a crush on a       school, the weather channel became his favorite TV
      girl and tried to ask her out on a date. The attacks   show to watch. Before long he was drawing his own
                                                             radar maps and forecast outlooks in crayon.
      got worse once people started recognizing him from
      TV, and they have increased in intensity over the
                                                                    By the time he was in middle school, he
      years and have become more unpredictable. Ironically
                                                             was using a dot matrix printer to produce a weather
      they feed themselves, since once you’ve had an attack
                                                             report, which was faithfully hung in the hallway
      you’re fearful that you’ll have another. The attack
                                                             at Benjamin Franklin Middle school with the
      itself can be embarrassing to the victim. In Jamey’s
                                                             encouragement of his teachers. When he moved
      case, he sweats noticeably and profusely.
                                                             to Franklin County High in 1992, he continued
             Prayer and meditation have helped him, and      providing the student population and the teacher
                                                             with his posted weather reports.
      “getting it out in the open”, i.e. talking about it, has
      helped the most, he says. Plus he’s tried the usual
                                                                    In 1993, Jamey met Steve Oakes, a friend
      things like therapy and medication.
                                                             and classmate of his dad’s. Oakes had started his
             Most of us first came to “know” Jamey           own cable television station, Channel 12 and he let
                                                             Jamey come to the station and perform various tasks,
      from his weather reports on WSLS, Channel 10
      in Roanoke, where he eventually became one of          such as basic camera work. Jamey even helped out
      the most popular meteorologists employed by the        by interviewing people at local events. Within a year,
      Roanoke station. Along with his boyish good looks,     he had created his own weather segment for “Rise
                                                             and Shine”, a biweekly morning show which is still
      likable personality, and gentle ways, he was the
      hometown kid in whom everyone took pride. He           airing. He was 15 years old.
      grew up in Rocky Mount, where his dad has owned
                                                                    Along the way, Jamey met Bill Meck, a
      and operated a local business, the Riverside Minute
                                                             meteorologist for WSLS, Channel 10 in Roanoke.
      Market, since 1986.
                                                             Obviously, Meck was impressed by the young
             You might say that Jamey was bitten by the      student’s enthusiasm and interest, as he gave him
      weather bug when he was just in the second grade at    access to the station’s weather computer through a
      Rocky Mount Elementary. It was then that he saw        dial-up modem. Meck also taught Jamey how to
                                                             decode data which was used only by professional
      first hand the damaged remains of a shopping center
      in South Carolina that had been struck by a tornado.   meteorologists. Jamey also got to know Robin Reed,
      The power of that storm, evidenced by the damage       who was Channel 7’s main meterorologist, a position
      left behind, aroused his curiosity.                    he held for decades. In recent years, Reed has moved
                                                             into news, replacing former anchor Chris Hurst, who
             Shortly after that, while the family was        left the job to pursue a political career.
      vacationing at Myrtle Beach, they had to evacuate
                                                                    By the time Jamey was in his senior year

      8      Discover Smith Mountain Lake  WINTER 2020
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