At 5:41 on Tuesday night, members of the Elks Lodge 501 in Joplin held a moment of silence for four lives lost in the tornado. They gathered at the exact time the twister hit to honor friends they won't forget. Last year members of the Elks Lodge promised to rebuild to honor the people who lost their lives and for the city of Joplin.
JOPLIN, Mo. - On Tuesday, the wife of one of the men who died inside the lodge brought flowers to place near a memorial on the property. "She was banged up and cut up real bad. She lost her husband,” Terry McCullum told KSPR News last year. “He jumped on top of her and lost his life." On May 24 of last year, McCullum and Lloyd Parker walked through the Elks Lodge rubble in shock. “I think we are in survival mode,” Parker told KSPR News at the time. They and their wives barely survived the storm inside a home near the lodge.
John Richey, David Kendrick, Clyde Coleman and Shelly Ramsey died inside the destroyed lodge. Carolene Coleman survived. “We did have someone that survived it,” Elks Lodge 501 Trustee Mike Sweeton said. He, Carolene Coleman and other members looked back on the last year during a ceremony on Tuesday. Sweeton says it’s hard to describe the last year but says one word is fitting - emotional. “It's been a year now it’s time to celebrate what we have but definitely never forget and remember those ones that we don’t,” Sweeton said. A plaque that memorializes members that passed away was one of the only salvageable things pulled from the debris. The tornado victims’ names are now on the plaque. “As tragic as that loss was, like most of all of the rest of this town, it could have been worse,” Sweeton said. “We had 60 other people playing bingo an hour earlier.”
One year later, construction is underway on a new two story lodge. “Some people call it the 'Garage Mahal,'” Sweeton said while giving a tour of the temporary lodge. It’s located inside a garage. The temporary lodge gives those who are healing a place to gather. Dozens of volunteers helped pave the way for progress. “There is no way to re-thank them but we can thank them by rebuilding back bigger, better and stronger,” Sweeton said.
A chainsaw artist created a memorial to remember those who lost their lives at the lodge. He created it out of a tree that was uprooted by the tornado. Four blunt sides represent each of the lives lost. The new lodge is expected to be complete by September or October of this year. The new building will have a "safe room" made out of concrete in the lower level.