The Scariest Night

Sunday I was traveling to southern Missouri near Table Rock Lake.  As I was packing up the Honda, Vince asked me why I was driving it instead of the Toyota and I told him the weather might get bad and if I was going to get hail damage, I’d rather it be to the Honda than the Toyota.  Vince came inside and checked the weather and wanted me to cancel my trip.  We discussed it and I told him that if I canceled my plans every time severe weather was predicted, I’d never leave home.  He suggested I go early and get all settled in before the bad weather arrived.

I passed through Joplin about 2 p.m. and arrived at my destination – a cabin right on Table Rock Lake.

The view from my cabin porch was incredible.

When the resort manager took me to my cabin, though we had yet to have any bad weather, I asked her where we go if there’s a tornado and she kinda laughed and said “I guess in the shower”.  The shower was a stand up shower so I knew that wasn’t going to be a safe spot.  I asked if we could hear tornado sirens and she said no.  Once I got everything in the cabin, a quick check around the grounds revealed that I didn’t have a lot of safe options as far as a tornado shelter.

Some of the ladies from the quilt guild picked me up for dinner and on the way back to the cabin, the radio was on and I hear that St. John’s Hospital in Joplin had been hit by a tornado.  Turned out it had happened about a half hour previous and the worst of the storm was passing right over where we were located.  I ran into my cabin and watched the trees bend and sway, while hail was pounding the roof.  By this time, my cell phone was getting no signal at all and the cabin had no phone.  There was a small TV in the cabin but I couldn’t even read the towns on The Weather Channel and the little towns they were mentioning, I had no idea how close or how far they were from me.

About 8:30 p.m., the resort manager came banging on my door and said “We’re going down the road where there’s a safe room!  Don’t even lock the door . . LET’S GO!”  So we went! We stayed there til we felt it was safe to leave.  They dropped me off at my cabin and they went on to their home which was a couple of cabins down from where I was staying.

The weather got better and then worse and it was 3 a.m. before the weather calmed down enough that I could sleep.  The thunder was shaking the cabin.  The hail was pounding the roof and windows.  I’m a chicken anyway but I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life.  The total lack of communication, not really knowing my exact location in relation to the continuous warnings . . it’s not a night I ever want to experience again.

For those not familiar with Joplin, like so much of rural America, it’s a hub city for so many communities, including our own.  It’s where we go for medical care.  Chad has an appointment Thursday with an ENT in Joplin and the doctor’s office is in the area hardest hit and I’m fairly sure his office is gone.  Even if it isn’t, I doubt they’ll be seeing patients on Thursday.  My dermatologist is right there too.  The grocery store I visit when I need lots of stuff is Dillon’s on 20th Street in Joplin.  It’s gone.  We go to Home Depot in Joplin.  It’s gone.  We love Academy — well, Vince and Chad love it more than I do . . it’s gone.  Hobby Lobby is near Wal-Mart and they’re showing Wal-Mart  which is totally destroyed but I haven’t heard about Hobby Lobby.

Cars, SUVs and 18 wheelers were turned over along I-44.  Can you imagine driving down the interstate and encountering this type storm?  What do you do?  Where do you go?

The storms were awful tonight.  As I was driving through the Joplin area, the lightning was scaring me half to death.   Once I got home, we’ve continued to hear about storms impacting the already damaged area.  They’re saying tomorrow is going to be horrible.

We know Joplin pretty well and as we look at the news coverage, we have a hard time discerning some of the streets and buildings.  We stare at the photos of damaged businesses and try to figure out what they were.  More times than not, we cannot figure out what they were.  The damage is truly unbelievable.

The mayor of Joplin was just on TV speaking of the resiliency of the residents.  He said “An F4 tornado is not going to kick our ass.”  That’s true.  As with any disaster, Joplin will recover.  Those of us who experienced the storm of yesterday will never forget.  What I saw and felt was nothing compared to what those right in Joplin experienced — not only the fear of the immediate storm but the loss of friends and family and property.

It’s another lesson — another reminder to live life to the fullest because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.


  1. 1

    Denise says

    Glad you are safe and sound but it must have been a very scary night. So sad to see such devastation.

  2. 2


    Sunday must have been terrifying. We passed through Joplin for the first time in March on our way home from Texas (we decided to take a different route). I waved at you as we passed by the Nevada sign, so I know how close you are. I’m so glad to hear you’re home and okay. These bad storms need to cut it out. Enough already!

  3. 3

    Tina C. says

    Judy, I’m glad you were safe. I grew up in Joplin and believe that the neighborhood we lived in is destroyed. It was a couple of blocks south of the high school. The pictures on tv are unbelievable. We have family that lives in Carthage and Tulsa.

    We live in Montana and DO NOT miss the storms and tornadoes that move through tornado alley. I will take ice and wind any day and try not to complain.

    So scary…and sad…

  4. 4

    Sue in Scottsdale, AZ says

    Oh Judy, I can’t even imagine how scary Sunday night was. I grew up in New England and the hurricanes we used to have scared me to death. I am the biggest chicken and I can’t watch “The Wizard of Oz” first because of the tornado and then the wicked witch and the flying monkeys. The pictures are devastating and I know the area is much worse in person. I am very glad that you are safe and were able to get to a safe place during the worst part of the storm where you were. You are so right, we all need to live life to the fullest every day and to remember to tell the people we love that we love them.

  5. 5

    Linda in NE says

    I’ve seen pictures on the Internet of the destruction in Joplin. From those pictures, I’d say everything is broken into even littler pieces than in Alabama and Georgia. It was the kind of night you want to spend in a good, sturdy storm cellar & I sure understand you being terrified at not having one handy. And not knowing exactly where you were in relation to the path of the storms would be unnerving. It’s been just a terrible Spring, weather wise and I can only hope it settles down. I’m so glade you make it home safe and sound.

  6. 6


    Thank you for posting. I didn’t realize Vince was home and I thought you were alone. We were worried about you. We’ve been watching the news casts…our hearts go out to those who have lost family. homes, belongings, pets, and friends. You’re all in our prayers.

  7. 7


    I am glad to hear that you and your family is okay, yet I am so sorry for the major loss that Joplin and you are experiencing. You are continually in our prayers.

  8. 8

    Sibyl says

    I am so very glad that you made it back home and are safe. I know you must scared out of your wits. Hope the weather gets better for you. Letting you know that you and your area are in our prayers.


  9. 9

    Hilary McDaniel says

    I’m so sorry you had to experience that. My heart goes out to all the people in the Joplin area. We will keep them in our prayers. Life is precious and I pray they find the people trapped in debris. I’m glad you’re home and pray the storms will let up. We desperately need rain, but I’ll pass if they have to come like this.
    It’s awful what we’re seeing on the tv and I know it’s 20 times more devastating than they are showing.

  10. 10


    I’ve heard Hobby Lobby is okay..or at least still standing. We were to go to one of the Freeman doctor’s tomorrow for an appointment but I’m guessing they will remain closed another day or two at least. My heart is just breaking for those in Joplin and I’m praying none of my friends from quilt guild are among those who lost their lives or homes.

  11. 11

    QuilterB says

    Sorry you had such a bad night. Glad to know you are safe. Many of us were worried.

  12. 12

    Sara in AL says

    Judy, so glad to know that you and your loved ones are safe! Having recently gone through a similar situation, I can relate. What a scary night for you. You are right about gaining perspective about the fragility of life. I also learned that you don’t really know your neighbors until something like this happens. We are all praying for those who were in the paths of these horrible storms.

  13. 13


    I feel very bad for everyone there. We dont get many, if any tornadoes here either-Thank God.
    And I hate to be a B—-but I wonder if anyone will help US out in our emergency situation? Anyone starting a fund so that other countries can donate? I dont mind helping others, but when we need it too, it would be nice if it came from other sources. All this, I would concider a pretty big “natural disaster”. Sorry, a bit of a thorn.
    God bless. I cant even imagine, as I have never been in the wake of one of these…

  14. 14

    Elizabeth says

    Hello, I am from Alberta, Canada. You give me the name of a reliably run charity and I would be pleased to donate to it to help the people in Joplin. I don’t want to donate to charities that take the money and don’t distribute the funds as they are supposed to. I always appreciate the fact that the US is always amongst the first to help others in trouble.

      • Marky says

        Most, if not all, of the major church denominations have disaster relief agencies. Usually administrative costs for these agencies are covered by the denomination, so contributions made for diaster relief go for disaster relief–not CEO and staff salaries, etc. The church based disaster relief organizations are often the first and the last on the scene, administering to the most immediate and basic needs with no strings attached and they are still there helping with clean up after the area is no longer a big news story. Check with the churches in your area to see if they have a national disaster relief agency within the denomination.

  15. 15

    Perry says

    Glad to know you are safe and sound. Was really very worried about you, as were a lot of us. I am sure you will have a nightmare or two over time from your experience. But you are right about one thing, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
    Our weather forecast for today is awful and very scary.

  16. 16

    Cindy from CA says

    I am sending heartfelt prayers to all of those who lived the terror and destruction of the tornadoes in Joplin. I can’t even look at the pictures, it just makes me cry.

    Judy – I can’t imagine being all alone in such a scary situation. I hope that you have some close friends (and Vince of course!!) to help you through this time.

    You are so right! We need to live each day to the fullest!! The saddest part is that most of us will forget this lesson in just a few days!


  17. 17


    Judy I am so glad you are safe, when they kept showing pictures and mentioning Joplin on TV I thought about you all day. I remembered you blogging about Joplin, but never expected to see it on English TV ! Keep safe.

  18. 18


    So glad you are safe and back home again . It must’ve been scary especially being on your own. We have just seen the damage in Joplin on our news here in New Zealand-just devastating. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones.

  19. 19

    SarahB says

    Like everyone else, I am glad to hear you, Vince and Chad are all okay. It really has been a crazy spring! We have been having tornados touch down all around us, which is really unusual for mid-Ohio, and one ripped a path through a neighboring town but managed to only take out businesses at night time. We were really, really blessed! But it seems like every other night we are having severe thunderstorms and/or tornado watches/warnings. And the RAIN.. oh my goodness, the rain, I really am starting to feel that an ark might be a good idea. Since our property is the lowest in the neighborhood we are getting all of the runoff and we are literally “slogging” around the yards. The chickens seem to LOVE it but they haven’t learned to swim yet so it’s funny when they wander a little too close to the resting water. If it keeps raining I am going to have to fence off the standing water so they don’t drown but for now it’s providing a little much needed entertainment and reason to laugh at the rain.

  20. 20


    It’s even made the Australian news – I thought of you straight away and I’m so pleased that you’re OK. That sounds like an absolutely terrifying night, I think if you can make it through that you can do anything!!!!!

  21. 21

    Lynne in Hawaii says

    I am so glad that you are safe! I have been worried. That had to be absolutely terrifying. Heartbreaking too after seeing the damage to places you know and the loss of lives that occurred. Keep your head low and stay in your safe area.

  22. 22

    shari heath says

    Sounds very scary! So glad to hear you’re safe. My friends in Joplin are safe as well. Is that the WalMart that Chad worked at? Sounds like it’ll be some time before things get back to normal.

  23. 23


    I will pray for all of those people who are suffering right now. I cannot even imagine how terrifying that must have been for you!

    Again – I am so thankful that you are safe!

    sao in Midlothian, VA

  24. 24

    pdudgeon says

    so glad that you made it thru the devistation. i guess it’s a lesson to all of us to take a local map with us when we travel, make plans when at home for what to do, be aware of where to go while traveling when danger threatens, and pack hurricane survival supplies in the car as well as the house.
    that was also good thinking to take the older car on the trip.
    I’m glad you made it thru ok.

  25. 25

    Greg says

    Like everybody else, I’m glad to hear that you are ok. It is even the lead story on NYC news programs. That sounds like it was a really scary night.

  26. 26


    Wow, Judy. I thought you lived close to Joplin. I’m so glad y’all escaped that terrible storm.

  27. 27


    Judy, I am glad you are safe. How terrifying that must have been. I feel so awful for all the poor people who have been affected by the terrible storms that came thru the U.S. this weekend.

  28. 28

    Pat in Washington says

    I’m so glad you’re home and safe! What a terrifying experience, and how sad to know of all the devastation and loss of life. The pictures I’ve seen are just unbelievable – you really can’t tell what some of the rubble used to be. Hope all your family and friends are safe, too.

  29. 29

    Cindy in NC says

    This tornado made the terrible one we had last month seem almost minor. So glad you are OK. I’m sure you’ll never forget this experience.

  30. 30

    Alma says

    The tranquilty of the pictures by the lake are in such sharp contrast to the photos we see of the Joplin area. No words can express what I feel for the victims. Horrible!
    Let me know if you know of any group collecting quilts up your way.

  31. 31


    Such devastation and destruction – I cannot even imagine going through such a weather event. Glad you got back home and are safe and secure. We were all worried and thought perhaps the power outages were keeping you off line. Judy C sends her best

  32. 32


    Amen sister! I was worried about you but figured you were far enough away to be relatively safe….if I had known you were in the thick of it, well, let’s just say I am grateful you are ok. I have been watching tearfully all day yesterday. So much damage and it came on so quick. What a nightmare. I can’t imagine being in all that! Thank God you are safe!

  33. 34


    Judy, we took were away from home. We were camping in the south EAST corner of Missouri. We did have a cell phone that worked. Our daughter is a news producer in Oklahoma city and she kept us informed.
    We were scared, but not near like you. I pray for Joplin and it’s people. My stomach turns everytime I watch the coverage.

  34. 35

    Doe in Mi says

    Horrible, just horrifying. I feel so bad for all those people. When I heard Joplin, Missouri had been hit w/a tornado I immediately thought of you. So glad your alright, if your like me you were terrified senseless. Happy your okay.

  35. 36

    Jane says

    Oh Judy…how terrifying! I can’t even imagine! Tornadoes are not something we get here up in northern Alberta (or very often anyway) but from your description it sounds like I’d still be shaking. Thank God you are okay……and yes, when these types of events happen it is an eye opener to remember how fragile life is and that it needs to be enjoyed each and every day! <3

  36. 37


    Judy, I’m glad you are safe. I’ve been checking your blog for news about you and your family.

    You are so right in that this reminds us that tragedy can strike randomly, and that we are blessed when we have safety and shelter and those basic things we take so much for granted. I don’t think anyone can watch the news about Joplin and not be deeply touched and saddened. Still, the human spirit shows when you hear people who seem to have lost everything express their gratitude for what they still have.

  37. 38


    Scared doesn’t even cover how you feel. During the first wave of storms I was sitting in my RV outside of a bowling lane where my husband was bowling. Hail on the roof of a RV is not a pleasant sound. The second round found us in Glen Rose Tx. Watching a weather map does not help when you don’t know the area. Both times I said a prayer gathered my 4-legged children and went to bed. The second time was better since DH’s arms held me safe. Scarey does not describe it.

  38. 39


    It was like that the night Katrina hit New Orleans. We were actually in the path until Katrina jogged a turn to the east at the last minute. We grew up in NOLA and it was like re-living our childhoods when we watched the devastation in the months following. I had been at a dog show the week before in the community center in Gulfport MS.

    Glad you were safe, that was too close and scary for comfort! You are right, the part about the lack of communication, when the electricity goes out and we have to rely on our hand crank radio we sit there glued to it.


  39. 40


    Judy, I’m glad you’re okay. My heart just sinks every time I think about this. Please be careful when you’re going there. Also, if anyone wants to make a donation, I would like to recommend this group. They are sending a team on Wednesday, and my church will be working through them. They are a good group and will make sure the supplies needed get to where they are supposed to. We’re sending a truck on Sunday.

    Be safe through the rest of this weather. It looks like we’re getting another round later today.


  40. 42

    Lisa says

    Glad you are ok. We are praying for all of those folks in Joplin. We have good friends in Tuscaloosa, AL, also.

    May God bless all of the folks in these two areas!

  41. 43

    Frankie says

    I’m so glad you’re ok! I can only imagine how truly terrifying weather like that is — I hate strong winds and we get nothing like that here. My heart and prayers go out to the people of Joplin.

  42. 44

    Sandy says

    I have been watching the news on Fox TV and the devastation in Joplin is unreal. My heart and prayers goes out to all of those affected by the huge tornado that hit their city.

    You must have been scared to death to go thru this storm all alone and in unfamiliar surroundings. When we travel it makes me nervous when they annouce towns or counties that are in a storm watch and you aren’t quite sure where they are located. Glad you made it thru okay and I know you won’t ever forget it!

  43. 45

    Ruby McGill says

    I saw the devastation caused by the tornado on our Australian news and wanted to send my prayers and best wishes for all those living in the effected areas.

  44. 46


    Relieved to hear from you. I said my prayers for you with the weather in Joplin. I am so glad to hear that fortunately you were out of town, unfortunatelly not far, far enough. You will need duck boots for your move to TX but I don’t hear about tornadoes that far south in TX. My son graduated from A&M. He worried about rising water. We worried about tornadoes here at the Red River. What’s that about a wing and a prayer… Makes you want to keep your head down and keep quilting.

  45. 48


    I can’t even imagine how horrific that had to be for you! I know how nervous I get when we have tornado watches and we have had a few tornados go through the area but NOTHING like what you have out there (Thankfully). So glad that you are ok. Praying for those affected.

  46. 49


    I am so glad you are safe Judy! I was worried! You said WalMart is gone? Is that the store where Chad works?

  47. 50

    Sarah says

    To those asking about donations. I have been through tornados here in Oklahoma. In the after math the red cross is there and you know it. But there is another organization that works in so many different ways and never seeks recognition. That is the Salvation Army. The Red cross gave us a small grant to help by furniture. But the SA gave us a place to stay in a shelter set up, and later furniture, clothing, eyeglasses, meds, and fed us until there was recovery. They even had volunteers that helped clean up. They helped us locate and find condition of relatives.You will see them in every disaster. Another who helps feed the people with receiving much credit is the Southern Baptist Disaster Unit. This is supported by the Churches around the country. Feel free to give where you want because the people just need help. I am only stating my experience.

  48. 51

    Carrie says

    I heard about it yesterday morning when my husband showed me the national news. He mentioned Joplin and I immediately ran to the computer to check for you… kept checking all day but only saw the pre-planned posts. I was so glad you posted last night, and thankful to hear that no one in your family was hurt. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected.

  49. 52


    When I heard that a tornado had devastated Joplin…I thought of you immediately and came here for news. I am so grateful that you and your family are fine, but heartbroken for all of those who lived or worked in the town of Joplin, itself. My heartfelt prayers join those of an entire nation.

    And if you decide to spearhead a movement to make and donate quilts to wrap up the town of Joplin with love…let us all know!

  50. 53


    Glad that you took Vince’s advice and drove earlier through the Joplin area. It is always good to locate the emergency exits and safe spots whenever you stay.

    One hint I have for people who are traveling is to have some friends available to watch the weather while you are on the road. I’ll check in as I approach alternate route options, to see if I should change my driving route to avoid bad weather. I am also glad to see that more places keep the weather reports on for travelers and the newer rest stops actually have storm shelters.

  51. 54


    My heart aches for those people who lost everything, especially family members. We’ve only had one storm that has scared me since I’ve lived in Oregon, and I hid in the stairwell up to my quilt room. Nothing nearly as bad as the weather you folks have. Stay safe Judy. I thoroughly understand though — if you didn’t go every time they predicted it, you’d never go anywhere.

  52. 55

    Mel Meister says

    The women in the quilt class I was in today were talking about the tornado and I mentioned your blog. Everyone here in Central Florida wants to send out best wishes and prayers.

    I’m so glad your family stayed safe.

  53. 56

    Caroline Dimmick says

    So glad to hear that you and your family are safe. Thank you for letting us know. It must have been terrible for so many in Joplin. We will keep you and Joplin in our prayers.

  54. 57

    Linda B in MI says

    relieved you and your family are alright….I am feared this is going to be a bad year for tornadoes…May God watch over us all.

  55. 58

    ruth anne shorter says

    I am so thankful that you are safe and I pray that never happens to you again. That was a very frightening experience. Not sure what I would have done in your place!! I am chicken too especially about storms.

  56. 60

    Vera Clifford says

    Glad you are safe. I typed out an e-mail to you the night of the storm to ask if you were very close to Joplin. The phone rang and I didn’t finish sending the e-mail. So sorry to hear of the devastation in Joplin. Thank you for suggesting a way for those of us who follow your blog to help the many victims .