“We rent it out now, but all the sentimental things from when the kids were little were stored out back,” Woodcock said amidst piles of belongings reduced to rubble. “Their baby blankets, things like that. Irreplaceable things.”
“I left half my heart in Joplin, and half my heart here,” he said. “Now they’re even more connected.”
Like Woodcock, Sarah Bollin, a teacher at Highland West Junior High in Moore, remembers responding to the Joplin tornado where friends and family lost homes and belongings.
And now, like Woodcock, she’s helping at home. Bollin graduated from Joplin High School in 2003, and began teaching in Moore in 2008. She, too, was petrified the evening of May 22, 2011.
“I was calling, texting, watching it on TV,” she said of the Joplin tornado. “When I found out my family was OK, I still had one week left here at school. I knew I had to finish up, or it would inconvenience a lot of other people. So I stayed, then packed up supplies and headed to Joplin.”
Her sister, Lara Stamper, is a teacher at Joplin’s East Middle School, which was leveled in the storm. Her brother and sister-in-law, Brent and Amy Bollin, lived at 29th and Wall in the destruction zone and their child would have been a kindergartener at nearby Irving Elementary — also leveled.
“I don’t really remember that week very well,” she said of the days that followed the Joplin tornado. “I do remember people I knew responding with donations of supplies. I didn’t ask; it just came.”
Bollin’s Moore home was at the edge of the destruction zone but was not damaged by the tornado. In its aftermath, her days have been filled with faculty meetings, comforting students who had siblings at Plaza Towers and Briarbrook elementary schools, and “helping out where I can.”