Three MarineParents staff members drove down to Joplin with a trailer on May 26th to deliver the furniture, household goods, clothes and toiletries and present the family with a check. Each recounts their experiences from that day.
"As we came into Joplin on May 26th we started seeing debris scattered in fields miles before our exit. As we took exit 6 off of I-44 to get into Joplin we almost immediately came to a slow crawl in a line of traffic that was driving through the town.
On our way to see the Shiwdin family, we saw what the tornado had done just three days earlier, and we were immediately taken aback. We didn't know what to expect; none of us had ever seen destruction like this first hand—only in pictures. Getting to their new house was a bit of a challenge; street signs were hard to come by.
Once we found our way we pulled up out front and noticed a parked Lincoln Navigator across the street and two young children sitting on the front porch. The family came out to meet us and we immediately started unloading things and taking them into the new house. We realized we had forgotten to bring a dolly for the stove and the refrigerator, so that served as a little bit of comic relief and we all joined together to grab the big stuff and get it up to the house. The stove had to stay outside until there was more help to get it through the front door and hooked up.
After we got everything unloaded we stood on the front porch and talked. We were able to ask them questions to help us better understand what they had been through in the past few days. Here is what they told us:
SSgt. and Mrs. Shiwdin had been at the store. Knowing that the weather was bad, they made the trip as quick as possible and left the kids at home, never thinking the weather would take such a terrible turn. When they started hearing sirens they were on their way home. Thankfully the store was only a couple of blocks from their house. As soon as they got home they ran inside and told their two daughters (ages 13 & 15) to start emptying out the closet under the stairs. The girls were moving things out and SSgt came in and said, “You're not moving fast enough,” and he just started grabbing things and throwing them. As soon as there was room in the closet for the five of them to fit they crammed in there and slammed the door shut. Within seconds it hit. They heard the roof go, and then they heard glass breaking. SSgt. Shiwdin knew the windows of the house had gone. Next they heard more glass breaking; they knew the cars were next. Everyone just braced themselves and kept thinking how lucky they were to be in there together and safe.
When the Shiwdin family finally felt it was safe to come out they were immediately taken aback by what they saw around them. Nothing was left. There was panic and terror all around them. SSgt. Shiwdin immediately went with his first instinct, and that was to take action. He started helping those around him and getting people to help. He said that the first chance they were able to get someone to emergency help was almost three hours later. SSgt. Shiwdin gave a complete stranger their family van to use to transport people to and from the triage for medical help. The Shiwdin family has a second vehicle that was in good enough shape to take them to safety after the storm.
They were able to find a new house within a couple days of the storm, and we were happy that we were able to deliver all of the donated items that so many people played a hand in providing. What an honor it was meeting such a strong family. I will remember that day in Joplin forever."
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