Joplin tornado sheared off her leg. Now Missouri woman just faced another twister

Eric Adler, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Weather News

Leona Rice was in church when the 2011 Joplin tornado descended with hellish winds, smashing the building to splinters, shearing off her left leg and killing four of her church-going friends.

On Wednesday, eight years later to the day, Rice, 74, was in church again, this time in her nearby hometown of Carl Junction, Missouri, when the tornado warning sounded. Again, a twister approached.

"There was one of the ladies who was there at the church," at the Carl Junction First Assembly of God, Rice said Thursday. "She didn't do well at all. She was just a basket case. She said, 'I'm just about to lose it.'"

Not Rice, who on May 22, 2011, found her limb ripped off, hanging by tissue, after it was wedged in a drain at Joplin Full Gospel Church, at 20th Street and Michigan Avenue.

"Oh, sister," Rice recalled her rescuer saying, "you've lost your leg."

On Wednesday, she stayed calm.

"I don't know," Rice said Thursday morning. "Maybe I'm a little weird. I just feel like it's in God's hands. Whatever will be will be."

Not far off, Wednesday's twister swept through town.

"If I had a good arm and a stone, I probably could have hit it," she said. The system would soon kill three people more than 40 miles to the east in Golden City.

During the Joplin tornado, Rice's son stayed at her side. She's convinced God did the same, leaving her with one leg and her life for whatever those divine reasons might be.


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