Area residents check in with loved ones in Joplin

When Amber Lee heard about Sunday’s tornado in Joplin, Mo., the first thing she did was run to the phone to call her sister-in-law, who is an X-ray technician at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which was hit hard by the twister.

“When my husband was on the phone, his face was just stone white. It was one of those deals where you didn’t know what the person on the other end was going to say,” Lee said.

A little relief was on the other end of that call. His sister’s shift at the hospital had ended just an hour before the tornado hit.

Lee, a program director and operations manager for 92.9 The Bull in Lawrence, worked in Joplin for six years as a radio DJ and had both of her kids there. She was able to contact just about all of her friends in the city and reported they were all OK.

“When you’re talking to them yesterday ... they were assessing everything that just happened, coming out of basement ... speechless like ‘I’m fine,’” Lee said.

“Then you realize what actually happened. You just say ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God’ and ‘are you sure so-and-so’s OK? Are you sure so-and-so’s OK?’ Undescribable.”

Jerry Banks, a Kansas University junior from Toronto, Kan., has two aunts and several cousins who live in Joplin. Banks first saw the news of the storm on Twitter and called his parents to let them know. His father was able to reach the rest of the family to confirm their safety and said one aunt’s house was one of two in its neighborhood that was not destroyed.

Despite Banks’ professional interests — he’s an atmospheric science major — his thoughts on the disaster are like anyone else’s.

“I hate seeing devastation like I’ve been seeing down there and Tuscaloosa (Ala.),” said Banks.

By Nick Nelson

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