MOORE — Zach Woodcock knew the storms were going to be bad on May 22, 2011, so turning on the Weather Channel was a natural instinct.
What he saw filled him with fear. The Moore resident’s family lived in Joplin, Mo.
“I saw that guy standing there in front of St. John’s and I just dropped everything and headed to Joplin,” he said. “I couldn’t get ahold of my family. I was just praying.”
His uncle, Jim Houk, and his grandmother, Shirley King, survived, but both lost their homes. Other extended family members also were OK.
Woodcock, who owns a construction company in Moore, spent the next three months helping with relief and recovery efforts in Joplin, where his parents, Larry and LaDonna Woodcock, grew up.
Woodcock prayed again on Monday, he said, but this time the tragedy was closer to home. It was as he pulled children from the Plaza Towers Elementary School after an EF-5 tornado ground across the city.
“My stepson, Dalton, went to Plaza Towers, and we have a lot of friends who live around there. It was the first place I stopped to see if they needed help,” he said.
“It was complete destruction. Little kids —” Woodcock choked back tears, pausing to collect himself. “They were looking for their mothers and fathers. People were screaming, ‘There’s kids trapped. There’s kids trapped.’ The kids were screaming, ‘Help me, help me’. So we dug.”
“I was praising God for the ones that made it and praying to God for the ones that didn’t to help them,” he said.
By Wednesday, he had moved into recovery and relief mode at a home he owns on SW 6th Street, a home in which he and his wife — Grove, Okla. native Denisha Fisher — got married. They raised their twin daughters, Kenzie and Kortnie, 7, and her son, Dalton Duffield, 15, there.