Slideshow: Photos from Joplin
Russ Pennell, GCU’s head coach for men’s basketball, grew up 20 miles from Joplin. Mo., and describes the May 22 tornado as “a little surreal.”
Troy Hill, his best friend from their high school days in Pittsburg, Kan., is an accountant in Joplin and lives less than two miles from the worst destruction. Although his house was not damaged, Hill was without power for eight days.
“He says it looks like a war zone,” Pennell says.
Tornado warnings are commonplace for residents of southwestern Missouri and southeastern Kansas.
“People live with that,” says Pennell, who played in games at Joplin High School and visited people at St. John’s Hospital, both of which were obliterated by the savage storm. With its population of 50,000, Joplin was the “big city” to those who lived in smaller Pittsburg.
“It was where you went when you wanted to get out of town,” Pennell says.
The GCU relief team of Aaron Johnson, Jose Moreno and Jennifer Willis made it back to campus shortly before 5 p.m. Monday. Over the weekend, they personally delivered clothing and supplies to four families displaced by the tornado.