Joplin Tornado Survivor: Hard to Feel Thankful This Holiday Season

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SEDALIA - The six month anniversary of the destructive Joplin tornado falls on the same week as Thanksgiving. The tornado uprooted one Joplin woman's life, and she said it is hard to feel very thankful this holiday season. She is not bitter that the storm forced her into homelessness, but rather, she feels a strong sense of guilt that she survived the storm and is getting by when she knows so many that are not.

"It's hard to feel good when you just feel so bad," she said.

Lora Tyler planned to move into her friend's house May 22, 2011, the same day the tornado struck her lifelong hometown. The storm decimated the house, forcing Tyler and her friend to seek shelter in a tent for a few weeks. Tyler had placed nearly all of her personal belongings in storage in anticipation of the move. The storm took the storage facility with it, leaving Tyler with nothing.

The two friends decided to move to Sedalia. Tyler's friend moved in with her sister, but the house was not within walking distance of town. Tyler needed to find a place to stay closer to town so she could walk and fill out job applications, because she did not have a car. She pitched a tent on the fairgrounds and lived there for over a month. During that time, more storms rolled through Sedalia, but Tyler said she felt "numb" to them. The strength of the Joplin tornado made it difficult for her to care about other storms.

Eventually, word made its way to Sedalia's Housing Director that a homeless woman was living on the fairgrounds. She helped locate Tyler affordable housing and disaster relief. Tyler moved into her new apartment the same day a local restaurant owner offered her a job. Sedalia residents donated almost everything to furnish her apartment.

Tyler said she is still adjusting to her new life, and she thinks about Joplin "every day". She was able to return to Joplin to say goodbye to her father who passed away recently.