Fact Check

We Need to Talk

Aftermath of Hurricane Charley reveals message from God on billboard?

Published Sept. 30, 2004


Claim:   Aftermath of Hurricane Charley reveals message from God on billboard.

Status:   True.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Many of the signs and billboards in the Orlando area were no match for Hurricane Charley. However, one billboard resisted the 100-mile per hour winds of the eye wall of the storm. While the billboard still stands, the advertisement that was there when Hurricane Charley hit was peeled back to reveal an earlier message. When the sun rose the next morning on Sand Lake Road in Orlando the words on the billboard clearly read:


Origins:   Natural disasters (and even sometimes man-made disasters) are often interpreted by the religiously inclined as signs from God, warnings or punishments visited upon us by the Almighty for our moral misbehavior. (One might think of them as smaller-scale versions of the cataclysmic flood God unleashed upon the world, wiping out all of mankind save for Noah and his family, as recounted in the biblical Book of Genesis.)

So, as if four hurricane-level storms (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) battering Florida within a two-month period in August/September 2004 weren't enough of a sign that perhaps the man upstairs was displeased about something (a concept already exploited in a humorous political item), what if one of them were so direct as to reveal a written message from God proclaiming, "We need to talk"? That is evidently what happened in the Orlando area in August 2004 in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley.

A few years back the Smith Agency of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, handled an assignment from a client by placing of a variety of billboards bearing non-denominational religious messages around the U.S. All the billboards presented short, simple inspirational notices (some with a bit of wry humor) in large white text on black backgrounds and were signed as if they came from God. Seventeen different messages were used in the campaign:

  1. "Let's Meet At My House Sunday Before the Game" — God
  2. "C'mon Over And Bring The Kids" — God
  3. "What Part of 'Thou Shalt Not . . .' Didn't You Understand?" — God
  4. "We Need To Talk" — God
  5. "Keep Using My Name in Vain And I'll Make Rush Hour Longer" — God
  6. "Loved The Wedding, Invite Me To The Marriage" — God
  7. "That 'Love Thy Neighbor' Thing, I Meant It." — God
  8. "I Love You . . . I Love You . . . I Love You . . ." — God

  9. "Will The Road You're On Get You To My Place?" — God
  10. "Follow Me." — God
  11. "Big Bang Theory, You've Got To Be Kidding." — God
  12. "My Way Is The Highway." — God
  13. "Need Directions?" — God
  14. "You Think It's Hot Here?" — God
  15. "Tell The Kids I Love Them." — God
  16. "Need a Marriage Counselor? I'm Available." — God
  17. "Have You Read My #1 Best Seller? There Will Be A Test." — God

When Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in mid-August 2004, battering the state with up to 100 mph winds that knocked over signs, uprooted trees, and left thousands of homes destroyed or uninhabitable, one billboard on Sand Lake Road in Orlando survived the onslaught relatively unscathed. The storm peeled off the most recent advertising message displayed on the board, however, revealing in its place an ad from an earlier campaign:

We need to talk

Last updated:   29 September 2004

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.