October 05, 2021
It was a hot and humid Sunday afternoon in Joplin, Missouri- May 11, 2011. Life would change forever.
Deedra Biggers was working at the Pizza Hut off Range Line Road. There was a shift change underway. She had no idea an EF5-rated tornado was barreling towards the restaurant.
“We knew about 7 minutes before it hit. We heard the sirens going off the first time and we had everybody come inside and I was hollering at people outside to come inside. And we saw the storm coming before the second set of tornado sirens went off,” Biggers said.
She said she could hear the storm more than she could see it. A storm so loud, she said a freight train would not do it justice.
She, the other employees, and customers knew it was time to rush to shelter.
“Our protocol was supposed to be to go into the walk-in cooler. Because it had the tie-downs on it and that was supposed to be our safe spot, but you could look at the walls and it was Styrofoam.”
The tornado demolished so much in its path; the town was unrecognizable to many of its longtime residents.
“It was surreal. When you stood up after the tornado it was nothing but flatness as far as you could see. Living here for 30 years, I couldn’t find my way around town,” Biggers said.