Tornado Clarifies Priorities for Asbury Grad

— It was me, my “little sister,” my dog, my neighbor from upstairs and her dog, sitting in my bathtub. We couldn’t get our weather radio to work. The TV went out. —

Morgan Schutters '09 reports on tornado recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo.
Morgan Schutters '09 reports on tornado recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo.

On May 22, Asbury grad Morgan Schutters ’09 was enjoying a day off from her job as a news reporter at KODE-TV Action 12 News in Joplin, Mo. She was spending some time with her “little sister” from the local Big Brother/Big Sister program in her apartment when the wind started picking up. It was a tornado.

— When even the cell service went out, we knew something bad had happened. We just sat there in silence and the darkness, waiting. We could hear debris hitting the outside of the apartment. —

Fiddling with the weather radio, they picked up a broadcast that immediately underscored the severity of the destruction that had missed them by three blocks: Range Line Road, a main artery of stores and restaurants running through this town of 49,000 people, was gone.

— I hopped in my car and went straight to work. When I got to the newsroom, it was chaos. People were crying. We all got assigned different locations where the tornado had gone through and went out 20 or 30 minutes after it hit. —

In the weeks following the tornado, Schutters worked 15 days straight, telling the stories of families broken and reunited, small victories and larger grief. When she wasn’t working, she helped friends and coworkers sort through the fractured remains of their homes, salvaging what they could. Immersed in the tasks at hand, she found the worldwide Asbury University community to be a source of strength.

— Running into other alumni is like seeing family, and knowing that I have that family is so comforting when something like this happens. I can’t tell you how many people have e-mailed me, sent messages on Facebook, Twittered, to say they’re praying for me. That’s something no amount of education or experience in the media can compare to — that spiritual family. —

The emotional temperature of the residents of Joplin can be read on their T-shirts: “We will rebuild.” “Hope in the midst of rubble.” “Praying for Joplin.” For Schutters, the tornado has become an opportunity to re-evaluate her purpose, tighten her grip on her faith and speak a little louder about the love of her God.

— When something like this happens right where you live, you absolutely look at life completely differently. There are 142 people who have lost their lives so far, and I don’t know why I wasn’t one of them, except that it just wasn’t time for me to go yet. I’ve never worshiped like the Sunday after the tornado hit. Eternity was that much closer to all of us. —

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