Lori Byrum’s parents and brother celebrated Lori's son's graduation from Dodge City High School this past weekend. 


Lori’s mom and dad, Howard and Pat, and her brother Larry live roughly six hours away from Dodge in Joplin, Mo.


All three were about an hour west of Joplin when a tornado that was more than a mile wide slammed into the city, killing 123 as of Wednesday morning. The death toll is expected to rise.


Lori’s sister Rhonda McCash and family, however, were there but are OK. Lori’s talked to them and thinks they took shelter in their home, which was partially damaged during the tornado.


While she has gotten to talk to her family, it hasn't been for very long.

Lori Byrum’s parents and brother celebrated Lori's son's graduation from Dodge City High School this past weekend. 

Lori’s mom and dad, Howard and Pat Humble, and her brother Larry live roughly six hours away from Dodge in Joplin, Mo.

All three were about an hour west of Joplin when a tornado that was more than a mile wide slammed into the city, killing 123 as of Wednesday morning. The death toll is expected to rise.

Lori’s sister Rhonda McCash and family, however, were there but are OK. Lori’s talked to them and thinks they took shelter in their home, which was partially damaged during the tornado.

While she has gotten to talk to her family, it hasn't been for very long.

“We get to talk in spurts. When we try to call early in the morning, seems like, there’s not many people trying to get through,” Lori said Tuesday. “I get to talk, I talked to my Mom — talked to her about three times. Sometimes it’s only a two to five minute call.”

It was a simple twist that kept Howard, Pat and Larry out of the tornado’s destructive path.

“With all of the chaos of Saturday night we didn’t get to get the proper pictures that we wanted for graduation,” Lori said. “So we delayed their trip.”

And it’s a good thing, too. She said her brother started getting hit with hail near Parsons, Kan., and pulled over to the side of the road to wait till it passed.

Lori's husband Scott Byrum said Larry arrived to Joplin 45 minutes after the tornado hit.

Lori said her brother and sister’s houses were damaged, but not obliterated.

“They had some damage and a lot of debris, which my sister — she lives closer to my Mom — and she had damage and debris but my mom, my mom – mom and dad got it,” she said. “Their house, it’s not destroyed, but a portion of it is. And what they didn’t lose as far as damage from the tornado, but with the rain and everything.”

The block north of her mom and dad’s house is gone.

Willing to risk it all

Scott and Lori own Daylight Donut on West Wyatt Earp Boulevard in Dodge City. The business has been in their family for four generations. But the couple said they would risk it all to assist in the relief effort in Joplin.

They had planned on loading their car up with water and other supplies, but once word got out that the Byrums were heading to Joplin, support and supplies began to pour in.

"In the beginning we thought it would just be our car," Lori said. "But I think we're going to have to go bigger."

So Scott's dad is letting them use his trailer and his vehicle.

"And now it's switched to a U-haul trailer, because it's covered," said Scott.

The Byrums said they aren't just going to Joplin to help their family, they want to assist in any manner possible to help residents affected by the tornado.

So far Lori said many people have just donated cash, which the Red Cross said is much needed.

Scott said people from the Dodge City business Fastenal Co. friended him on Facebook when they found out he was heading to Joplin.

"I added them. I didn't know who it was," he said. "But they are collecting stuff at Fastenal — they got toys and clothes, stuff like that. They're going to drop it off at the shop on Friday.

Fastenal employees were "just going to mail some boxes and stuff down. But (they) found out we were going and (they) just started trying to get more and give it to us to take it down there."
    
The tie that binds
Scott and Lori said their trip to Joplin Saturday will be the first of many future aid trips there.

"They need a lot of help out there," Lori said. "My mom is trying to, I think, prepare me. She said it's beyond anything I've ever seen anything in my life."

Entire blocks have been destroyed. Cars and trucks were tossed around like toys. Buildings are gutted. Debris is everywhere.

"I mean, we went to Greensburg (Kansas, after a devastating tornado there in May 2007). But we didn't go down there til a couple months afterwards — two or three months," Scott said. "It still took your breath away. We haven't been anywhere so fast" after a tornado."

For the most part, the Humbles and McCashs escaped injury.

"Out of all of our family members, with my sister and her children — my nephew's girlfriend was injured," Lori said.

Scott said the girlfriend was in the Walmart parking lot in her car when the tornado hit. Six vehicles landed on her car, he said.

"She somehow got my nephew on the phone and he came to get her," Lori said. "And from what we understand by the story that was told to us this morning, only her and another gentlemen walked out of Walmart. It's horrifying."

Neither Scott or Lori know their nephew's girlfriend. They hadn't had an opportunity to meet her yet.

But that doesn't matter. All Scott or Lori could say was, bless her heart.

"This is what brings you together or should," Scott said. "It should bring you together."
    
Getting it done
Scott and Lori plan to leave Dodge and head to Joplin on Saturday. Any money that is donated to assist in the relief effort will go to just the relief effort, Scott said.

"I'll be paying for my own fuel," he said.

And they are looking for anyone who can help.

Interested parties should contact Lori at Daylight Donut at 620-227-2210.

"If they want to drop something off at my business, they can do that," Lori said Monday.