Living in the Alley
Story by Kelsey Allen
Published by MIZZOU Magazine, July 19, 2013
In 2011, Deidre Bales-Poirot, BSN ’05, MS ’08, and husband Severin Poirot, BA ’00, were vacationing in Cancun when they learned that a massive EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., where they had lived from 2002-09. It was difficult watching the graphic footage roll across the television from 1,000 miles away. But the hardest part was that their two young children were staying with their grandmother in Joplin. The tornado missed her house by about four blocks.
When they returned home to Moore, Okla., Bales-Poirot tried to offer comforting words to son Alex, 4, and daughter Allysun, 10.
“I told my kids six weeks after that tornado in Joplin, ‘You’ve been through one EF5 tornado. There’s already been one touch down here [the 1999 Bridge Creek-Moore tornado]. You’re never going to go through that again,’ ” Bales-Poirot says.
On May 20, 2013, she was kicking herself for making a promise she couldn’t keep. As she shoved her kids — now 12 and 6 — into their 8 feet by 4 feet storm shelter, they braced themselves for the Moore tornado.
Armed with an emergency radio, a flashlight, helmets and their computers — “My husband and I both have our dissertations [saved] on them,” says Bales-Poirot, a doctoral student in the Sinclair School of Nursing. “We’re not going to lose those.” — the family waited in darkness for 45 agonizing minutes.