Jun 24, 2011 • By

Relief in the midst of tragedy

When I spent some time talking with several of our General Mills employees in Joplin, Mo. about the May 22 tornado there, a theme emerged in each interview.

If they had relatives scattered across the city when the twister hit, their first thoughts after the storm were about the well-being of their loved ones.

Tim Matthews, a maintenance team leader at our Joplin manufacturing facility, had two family members on his mind. His 82-year-old mother, who lived alone. And his 50-year old brother who lived in a nursing home.

First, he raced from his house to check on his mom.

Trees were down all around her house and at first, she didn’t answer her locked front door. Tim was relieved when she finally heard his shouts for her, and opened the door. He then drove her to his home.

A two mile drive took three-and-a-half hours on streets littered with debris.

But his search wasn’t over.

He needed to go check on his brother, whose nursing home was in one of the hardest hit parts of Joplin.

In this video interview, Tim told me what he found when he got to that nursing home.

Tim says when he saw the extent of the damage to his brother’s nursing home, he feared the worst.

“Everything was numb, like a dream,” he says “But once I got in the building it hit me that it was real. I just wanted to be sure he was okay.”

When he found his brother and hugged him, he was overcome with emotion.

“You felt the chill,” says Tim. “When I grabbed him, it was true and blue.”

Editor’s note: This is the latest in our special series of posts featuring our Joplin employees affected by the May 22 tornado, we’ll conclude it with one more employee’s story in our next post. We started our series with this post, featuring some of the experiences of several of our employees.