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Joplin Shop Weathers Deadly Tornado

Published May 25, 2011

JOPLIN, MO (BRAIN)—A block-and-a-half was all that separated Bicycle Specialists from what has been labeled the deadliest single tornado since 1950.

Since Bicycle Specialists is closed on Mondays, owner Deborah Johnson decided to spend some time checking on some of her older customers. She found one, but didn’t find the other—yet.

“It’s very unbelievable,” Johnson said.

The EF5 tornado—the highest rating based on inflicted damaged—killed more than 120 people with an estimated 8,000 buildings destroyed.

“Business is going to be really slow,” Johnson said. Although she did say a few people have brought in bikes that survived the storm, but need repair. “Nobody has any cars left, maybe they’ll look at alternative transportation,” she added.

While 30 percent of Joplin, Missouri, was leveled by the tornado, Johnson’s home along with her two employees were left unscathed.

“Joplin is a resilient area where everybody helps each other out,” she said. “It’ll get built back up.”

There have been more than 100 tornadoes in the United States thus far in May. The average number of tornadoes during the last decade in May is 298, according to the National Weather Service.

—Jason Norman

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