Back on May 22, 2011, Ted Easley and his wife, Barbara, were just one of the families who lost their home during the EF-5 Joplin tornado.
Ted, who is the staff partner for the Newton County Relay For Life, and his wife, showed off their new home to their Relay friends on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Their home is now located in the 3100 block of Sunset Drive, Joplin.
“In the immediate days after the tornado when we lost our home, cars, and since I was home based, I lost all of the office stuff,” said Ted. “All of the Relay volunteers from our communities all over Southwest Missouri were so concerned and so supportive of Barbara and I that we just felt like we wanted to share our joy in being able to return to our home.”
Ted remembered that Sunday afternoon and conveyed to the Neosho Daily News. The couple was in their house, located on Indiana Street, near the Joplin High School.
“Just like old Midwestern men, just because the tornado siren goes off, that is a reason to turn the channel and see what is going on and I did that,” he said. “I turned to one of the local TV stations, it looked like, in fact, I told Barbara they said, ‘well they are talking about the storm coming up from Riverton and Galena, Kan., which would put it in about Schifferdecker Golf Course and then track north, I think we will be OK.’ I got involved in some other things just for a few minutes, Barbara had been in the shower and came down a few minutes before. And when the TV station that I was watching turned their camera on their tower south just a little bit and there it was. It was right there on television. So I yelled at Barbara, ‘you need to get in the half bathroom.’ we had a two-story home and right in the very middle of the downstairs part was this very small half bath, right where everyone is told to go. I grabbed two cushions off the couch… and joined Barbara in the bathroom.”
Ted remembered that they were in the bathroom for just a short time.
“We could hear it (tornado),” Ted said. “We listened to it get louder and louder and louder until finally the lights blinked and then it was like someone sucked the air out of the house, the glass exploded and this 200-mph winds were in the house. It was a very surreal moment.”
Ted held the door closed while the tornado went passed them.
Eventually, they emerged.
“When I opened that little bathroom door, it seemed strange to me, I was so micro-focused, there was a piece of 2x4 shoved into the wall and that is what I could see,” said Ted. … Then I looked into what was left of our kitchen, which was just a beautiful big kitchen, it was just destroyed.”
Page 2 of 2 - Eventually, he found his shoes, which had broken glass in them.
“I got that emptied out as best as I could and got tennis shoes on. Barbara told me where she had some tennis shoes and some flannel pants (that were not too wet),” he said. “Took those to her and got out and that was her first look at the house, we spent maybe just a minute or two, trying to take it in.”
They made it to the front porch, and eventually calling Barbara’s mother letting her know they were OK, they then called one of their children, also letting it be known they were OK.
Ted and some of the neighbors went door to door to make sure that their neighbors were OK.
Later on, Ted and Barbara when it was time to leave their home, gathered up some things.
“Barbara and I returned to the house, that was the first time I went upstairs where my office was and there was just anything left,” he said. “But I did, on top of all of the debris, find my work computer. It was rain soaked, I picked it up, came downstairs. We found her school computer, found Barbara’s purse, checkbooks and we found a Relay bag, so we put the checks and we put a few things we could find in it (the Relay bag).”
They eventually made it to a friend’s house and later a few months after, moved into a duplex that Ted and Barbara had.
“We moved in the latter days of July and we were there until we moved into our new house which was election night 2012,” he stated.
During the open house on Sunday, the couple had their guests look around at their new home and had refreshments.
“I am blessed with so many Relay friends and an extended Relay family, they have really held their heart to Barbara and I and we are truly appreciative of that,” Ted said.