From a Tornado-Ravaged RV to a Red Cross Shelter

By Dan Halyburton, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

The day after Christmas is a notorious day for rushing to the malls with gift cards in hand looking for day-after sales, gobbling up the Christmas dinner leftovers or just resting. But here in North Texas, the day after Christmas is now notorious for a completely different reason.

Early in the day on December 26, Red Cross teams focused on a rapidly changing weather forecast. A cold front was pushing south into Dallas-Fort Worth and warm moist air was streaming north. The collision of elements put the greater DFW area in the bulls-eye for damaging storms. Ultimately, 12 tornadoes ripped across the Metroplex destroying homes and claiming lives.

John Basso was in the path of one of them at the Plantation RV Park in the small town of Sunnyvale, Texas.

The tornado fileted his 28 ft. RV trailer. The base and wheels went west and the top went east, with John inside. When he crawled out, he could feel the heat of four or five nearby RV’s ablaze.

John shared his story with a clear-headed memory and with analytical detail.

John Basso recounting his experience to Dan Halyburton.
John Basso recounting his experience to Dan Halyburton.

The more time I spent with him, the more his attention to details made sense; he is an aviation technical writer for Southwest Airlines.

John spent 5 hours at the hospital before arriving at the Red Cross shelter at Steadham Elementary School. He was moving a bit slow, busted up ribs will do that, but to look at him you would never know he rode out a tornado in a RV. I went to the RV park to see the scene for myself. It’s simply incredible that he survived. We found the keys to his badly damaged car just outside of his RV.

It was a privilege to hear his story and help him start to piece together the next steps in his recovery. No wallet or ID, no mobile phone, not even a pair of shoes on his stocking feet. We found him a pair of comfy moccasins.

He contacted his family and his coworkers at Southwest Airlines. John tuned down their offers for a hotel stay, opting to stay at the Red Cross shelter where his new support groups are helping him with his recovery.

He’s on his way to a new beginning, yet there are still so many families coping with this cruel hand dealt by Mother Nature.

The American Red Cross has been working around the clock to help people just like John Basso. You can help by making a financial donation at or by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10.

It’s a privilege to know John Basso, and I am proud of the Red Cross team working tirelessly to help our neighbors recovering here in North Texas.

Dan Halyburton (left) and John Basso (right).
Dan Halyburton (left) and John Basso (right).

Dan Halyburton is from Dallas Texas and has been a Red Cross volunteer for 7 years. Dan deploys to major disasters all over the United States for the Red Cross.

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