Ben Thomas is 11 years old. His little brother, Peter, is nine. Both rode out the EF-5 tornado in their bathroom with their mom, Shelly, their grandmother, their uncle, Matthew Jones and his fiancee.
All of them survived. Their house is a pile of matchsticks. This reporter found them sifting through the rubble, commenting on what was found … moments of surprise rising from otherwise sullen silence.
Shelly was bruised and battered, having taken the brunt of the flying debris as she shielded her sons from the worst. “I’m just glad this…” she motioned to her injuries, “isn’t them,” she said, looking at her son.
Ben said it was hard to see the town he’d grown up in a state of destruction, but was quick to point out that it was all “just stuff.” The little boy across the street — he pointed to another home that had been ripped from its foundation — “is gone.” “I used to play and hang out with him every chance I got,” he said.
Ben says he doesn’t want or need anything right now, but is just asking for everyone’s prayers for both those who made it, those who are badly injured, and those who perished in the storm.
Here is Ben’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 8:37 min.]
David Brock served in two wars, both of which he says pale in comparison to surviving an EF-5 tornado in the bathtub. David talks about the storm without getting choked up, but takes pause when talking about the American flags erected among the wreckage. He lives on 19th Street, where some of the deadliest damage occurred on May 22, 2011.
Here is David’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 17:29 min.]
SARAH AND CALVIN
Sarah Towle and Calvin Standfield were not hit by the storm, but they frequently took their dogs on walks through the neighborhood that was. They have been looking for their dogs’ friends ever since the tornado came through.
Here is Sarah’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 3:14 min.]
Here is Calvin’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 5:49 min.]
The podiatrist’s office where Cindy works was severely damaged. She’s thankful the tornado hit on a Sunday night when no one was inside.
Here is Cindy’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 2:26]
Derrick Harper says with no job and no resources, he’s not sure how to get by. He tells us how he and his girlfriend survived in her car, next to an apartment building that’s no longer there.
Here is Derrick’s story: AUDIO — [Mp3, 5:40 min.]
A LITTLE HELP
Hal Sasko and Reba Snyder are with CiCi’s Pizza in Lawrence, Kansas. After hearing that the CiCi’s Pizza in Joplin had been destroyed, they decided to drive down and hand out slices of pizza and cold sodas in the disaster zone.
Tide Loads of Hope is doing more than just washing Joplin’s dirty laundry. Spokesman John Russell explains.
View photos of survivors, helpers and the devastation on the Missourinet homepage.