Just two weeks prior to the tornado ripping through Joplin, Missouri Southern State University just signed up with the Red Cross to use the school’s facilities as a shelter should disaster strike the area. Little did anyone know, including Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman, that they would be called upon quickly.
Bruggeman recalls he didn’t know how severe the storms were. In fact, he didn’t see the damage personally until Tuesday. His life and everyone in Joplin change in an instant on May 22nd. He and his family was safe and out of harm’s way, but he drove to the campus to check up after the high school graduation.
The staff at MSSU converted the gym from commencement ceremony into a shelter moving bleachers and getting cots set up. In addition to providing temporary sleeping quarters, the campus also was home to a make shift triage, a temporary morgue, and offices for FEMA, Child Disaster Services and Americorp.
Bruggeman says it will be a long time before the campus gets it’s facilities back, but as the coaches prepare for their season and share hallway and office space with these organizations, they still have a job to do and a responsibility to bring a sense of normalcy back to the community.