Joplin High School graduation sparks memories of tornado for family
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
5/22/12 at 6:50 AM
Continuing coverage: Read more on the Joplin tornado and aftermath.
Related Story: Obama lauds Joplin grads, residents in commencement speech
JOPLIN, Mo. - Ginny Yeoman calls herself one of the lucky ones, and here's why.
Last year, she attended her son's Joplin High School graduation and lived to tell about it.
This year she is back, this time to see her daughter, Nichole, 17.
"Our whole family drove right into the storm," said Yeoman, 49, as she waited in line for this year's graduation at Missouri Southern State University.
"So we are lucky that our whole family is still here."
For two hours after the storm struck at 5:41 p.m. on May 22, 2011, Yeoman didn't know where her daughter was, only that she had left after the graduation in her own car.
"Her dad got out and walked and tried to find her," Yeoman said. "And he found horrible things. So we assumed the worst."
The text, which arrived hours after Nichole Yeoman sent it, didn't help.
"The text came: 'Mom, where are you? I am OK.' But there was a lapse, so we didn't know if she was OK or not," Ginny Yeoman said.
Nichole Yeoman, it turns out, had stopped driving. She was in the middle of the storm, alone, crying her eyes out. When the storm subsided, she hitched a ride home.
Now she's headed to MSSU for college, where she'll join her brother, Craig.
"It's been great," Nichole Yeoman said of her senior year.
Ginny Yeoman explained why: "She doesn't dwell on it."
Original Print Headline: Ceremony sparks memories
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Nichole Yeoman, 17, carries her cap and gown across the Missouri Southern State University campus before the Joplin High School graduation ceremony in Joplin, Mo., on Monday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World