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The Joplin Tornado: A Survivor’s Tale

Our inbox gets flooded with emails everyday. This one definitely stood out from the rest. It read:

On May 22nd, I was visiting my friend’s family in Joplin, Mo. During the visit, the tornado ripped through the neighborhood and destroyed the home (along with hundreds of others). What wasn’t taken away, was either destroyed or soaked with water. This included cell phones, wallets and the like. My Poketo wallet, however, was fine. Despite the wind and rain and flying debris, the wallet and its contents remained intact.

Jordan is a 19-year-old sophomore at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. She wrote to us because she, her friend Mike and his family (even the family dog) had all survived an F5 tornado that ripped through Joplin last month exactly. Though the family’s home is devastated, they somehow still found something to smile about, the now-famous Poketo wallet that survived the tornado.

“Wallets are basically our life in a pocket. They house our identity, our money, basically our everything. When they get stolen or lost, anxiety is definitely a side effect,” says Jordan, “I was so thankful when I found my waterproof wallet in tact. The rest of the family wasn’t so fortunate…their wallets were waterlogged, stinky, or even gone.”


Jordan’s Poketo wallet post-F5 tornado.

What brought us to Joplin was family. Mike is Serbian and his family celebrates a religious holiday called Slava. This year, Dan, Mike’s brother, was hosting it. The day of the tornado started like a normal day…the adults were chatting and cooking, and the kids were playing.

We all sat down to dinner and were enjoying the appetizer course and no sooner did we hear the faint sounds of tornado sirens.

Living in Missouri for over a decade without a tornado, Dan didn’t take it too seriously. Monica, his wife, on the other hand, felt that she needed to get the kids in the laundry room. (Why the laundry room? They didn’t have a basement, and it was the center-most part of the house.)

It was a bit cramped in the laundry room, but we amused ourselves by reading a book. We get about a third of the way through the book when the power goes out. Being tucked away in the laundry room, I had no idea that the sirens went off again. The next thing I know, I hear what sounds like hail just smacking the roof.

Shortly after, I heard it. I heard the freight train rip through the house. At first, it was complete darkness due to the power outage, but the next thing I knew, I’m covered in insulation, debris, water, and can see light. The actual tornado lasted no longer than two minutes, but boy were those the longest two minutes of my life. It felt like I was in that laundry room for hours. If you can imagine, all Hell broke loose after this.

To speed this up, long story short, Duke was the one injured, most likely by flying debris. He needed 30 stitches, but everyone else was left without a physical scratch (mentally and emotionally we were a little more damaged).

Joplin, Mo. was home to 50,000. Until today, it is still struggling to recover. The tornado took out nearly one-third of the city and killed more than 150 people, destroying thousands of homes and businesses in its wake. The tornado ranks as the 8th most deadly in history.

A number of organizations have already banded together to help the stricken town. You can find some links here.

Although it is not going to reverse the devastation in Joplin, we’re doing our part here at Poketo in keeping the family’s spirits up. Jordan actually asked us to send some new Poketo wallets to her friends and family. So that’s what we did! Jordan and Mike personally picked out wallets for each family member and we sent the care package. Hopefully it becomes one more step towards rebuilding their normal life. We hope they like it and it’ll stay with them through thick, thin and everything in between.

If you would like to personally send help to this family, you can leave a comment on the page and we can help put you in touch with Jordan.

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