Monday, August 1, 2011

Our Tornado Bride

Below is the story of one of our bridal customers who was caught in the middle of the Joplin tornado on May 22, 2011.  Her wedding dress was damaged beyond repair when the tornado hit her apartment. When we found out, we contacted our manufacturer, Mon Cheri, and even though this was a discontinued dress, they agreed to replace it free of charge! Jeannette was going to have her dream dress afterall.


Carthage family shares story of survival, hope

Photos provided by Andersons.

Brad Anderson and finance, Jeanette.

By Rebecca Haines
Posted Jul 24, 2011 @ 09:54 AM
The following is the story of a family’s encounter with the May 22 tornado. The Andersons, Donna and Darell and their son, Brad, of Carthage, were at the corner of Rhode Island and 20th Street with their future in-laws, Jeanette, Rose and Anna Dominguez, formerly of Joplin. All of them survived a car-ride in the tornado. Brad and Jeanette, who are to be married in October, have found a new home in Carthage.

 Calm before the storm

After a day at work at Cheddars, in Joplin, Jeanette, 20, and her sister, Anna, 16, were at the corner of 20th Street and Range Line when they heard the sirens. They went home to their apartment, which was located at 20th Street and Rhode Island Avenue, to find Rose, 22, nonchalantly watching television. The sisters had lived in the apartment for less than a month. (Anna lives with the girls' mother in Carterville.)

Jeanette, who said she never liked storms anyway, was less than calm.

“I already hate storms as it is,” Jeanette said. “And that night I told Rose, I have a weird feeling about this one.”

The girls made arrangements to head to Carthage and stay with her future in-laws, who have a basement. It was at this time when Brad showed up with his parents.

“He is about to graduate with a degree in radiology, so he’s very calm in emergency situations – and he was freaking out,” Jeanette said. “So to see him like that was scary.”

The tornado ride

All six people were in a Buick Enclave when the tornado tore through the community.
“Yeah, we went for a ride,” Jeanette said.

At first the car started shaking, then started to rock from tire-to-tire. Jeanette said when Brad started to pray, the windows shattered. Jeanette said she and Brad were alert through the whole ordeal, and Brad even counted the number of times the car rolled in the air; which was 10. And that was only part of the ride.

“Let me tell you, the sensation of being slammed down was like an out-of-body experience,” Jeanette said. “Everyone was silent, and all I could do was tell myself to breathe in and out.”

Still stunned, the family did a roll call in the car. Though injured, they were all alive.
The only two people with seat belts on were Darell and Donna, and they were sitting in the front. Brad and Jeanette were in the middle seats, and Rose and Anna were in the back. Donna's seat belt had broken and by the end of the ride was under Jeanette's seat.


Brad helped everyone out of the car, and ripped the seatbelt off of his father. By then, the storm brought hail and the family found some shelter in what used to be an apartment, less than half a mile from where the tornado picked them up.

“At that point, my adrenaline was still going … it was insane,” Jeanette said.

It was an hour before help came, which was around 7 p.m. Even then, only Anna and Rose were taken to Freeman Hospital. Brad reset his own nose, and Jeanette said her pain didn’t start until her sisters were on their way to the hospital. She found out later, she had fractured her back.

“I didn’t know how bad it was,” she said. “They didn’t expect me to walk again.”

When help came again, Donna and Darell were taken to the hospital. A few hours later, Brad and Jeanette were helped to the hospital. Jeanette was treated for her pain, which was some doses of morphine, in a hallway at Freeman.

At 6 a.m. May 23, Jeanette was transferred to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Kan. She said in her new hospital room was where everyone reunited.

“It’s such a happy ending,” she said. “We all found each other, and we’re all alive … We are so blessed.”

Through it all, injuries for this family included the following: Donna suffered a concussion and a badly damaged ankle, Darell had a leg injury and severe whiplash, Anna had a head injury, Brad had broken his nose, and Jeanette and Rose both fractured their backs.

“We all have a close bond,” Jeanette said. “Brad and I have a great bond that could never be broken. I have always loved Brad, but I love him even more. And I never thought you could love someone this much. I feel like also that I have a great bond with my soon-to-be mother-in-law and father-in-law that I didn't have before. As for my sisters, we have always been very close and now I feel like since living through such an experience we  couldn’t  be closer … There will now and forever always be a  connection  between us.”

Aftermath / Hope

Jeanette and Rose lost everything in the tornado. Rose moved back home, and plans on student-teaching this fall. Jeanette said all of her wedding preparations, including her dress, were completely ruined.

Funds were low, and Jeanette went six weeks without work. After searching diligently for four weeks, and with the help of Robin Standridge, Alliance of Southwest Missouri’s community director, Brad and Jeanette have a new home in Carthage.

“Robin was totally awesome,” Jeanette said. “She’s been a total blessing.”

Brad and Jeanette have received help from the communities of Joplin and Carthage, and much to their delight, they have everything they need for their wedding in October. Jeanette says efforts from T.J. Formal, Sodexo with MSSU and Arabesque String Quartet have turned a nightmare into a dream-come-true.

“I still get the wedding I want,” Jeanette said. “We appreciate  every single one of them and the blessing they have given us. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and even that can't express our  gratitude  for them and how  grateful  we are that God has put them in our lives.”

Jeanette said she loves her new home in Carthage.

“I’m very happy with the Square, I think the Deli is adorable,” she said. “It feels more safe here - very calm. I was worried about the drive since Brad and I both work in Joplin, but we love Carthage so much we don’t mind.
“We’re just blessed to be alive.”


  1. What an incredible story! What a terrible experience they had, but it's so great to see a happy ending.

  2. What a heart breaking, heart lifting story. THANK you for sharing it!!!!!!