KEPR Sports Director Remembers Tornado Threat While Living in Joplin

KEPR Sports Director Remembers Tornado Threat While Living in Joplin
PASCO -- KEPR Action News Sports Director Morgan Vance remembers life in Joplin, MO, scene of widespread destruction after a massive tornado.

Morgan and his wife, Stephanie, settled in the Tri-Cities just six months ago. They're now spending their days trying to make contact with friends there, while also counting their blessings they weren't in Joplin when the tornado struck.

"It took me a couple days to process it," says Stephanie, fighting back tears. "I think I went into shock first. And Sunday night, when we first found out, I watched the news. And I had to turn it off."

She recalls up to ten tornado warnings every year, prompting the Vances to gather their two young daughters and hide in the clubhouse of their apartment complex.

That same complex is now a pile of rubble.

"If I wanted to go back and show my daughters where they were born, I couldn't do that," says Morgan.

Stephanie used to work as the Assistant Manager at their apartment complex. So, she knew a large portion of the people who lived there.

"When I saw the apartments, they were just flattened. And the place we had always gone for safety during the storms was completely gone. It was horrifying to think about what could have been."

The twister that raged through Joplin has been classified as an F-5, which is the strongest category of all for twisters.

Experts say it's also the deadliest 'single' tornado to hit the U.S. since the late 1940s. 125 people are confirmed dead as of Wednesday. 1,500 are still missing, and local authorities expect the death toll to continue to rise.

As the Vances watch the endless TV coverage of the devastation in Joplin, they can't help but think of the friends and loved ones they left behind.

"Because when we look at the pictures, we see Joplin, but we also see faces," says Stephanie. " We see their children, and their little cute personalities. And just knowing what they're going through is heartbreaking."

And Morgan adds, "Our heart just bleeds for those who had to suffer, even though we didn't."

They say several friends were injured in the twister, and many lost their homes and all of their belongings. But miraculously, they say no one they know personally was killed in the tornado.