It's more than a home. It's a life.
Rita's life was already in upheaval. Her husband of 52 years had recently passed away, and she was
downsizing her life, selling the family home to move across town to a more manageable house. She
was closing on both in two days.
This new chapter of Rita's life was scheduled to begin on May 24, 2011, in Joplin. But May 22 had
other plans. "I'd paid a roofer $600 that morning for work he'd done," Rita remembers. "In the
afternoon, the roof had blown away."
When the tornadoes ravaged southwestern Missouri that Sunday afternoon and literally made Joplin
unrecognizable, weather had been the farthest thing from Rita's mind. She was still mourning her
husband as she prepared to leave the home in which they'd built their life. The tornado destroyed
both homes, erasing her past and eclipsing the future.
The Joplin storm caused more than $1 billion in property damage. But to the people affected, the
dollar amount hardly mattered. It wasn't property that was taken. It was memories, history, passions.
Yes, they needed financial support to start piecing their lives back together. But what was really
needed was a helping hand. A friendly voice.
For Rita, Mark, her Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance agent, was that hand.
"My husband had handled the insurance. I knew I had some, but I didn’t know anything else," she
says. "One of my children knew it was through Missouri Farm Bureau, so they called Mark. He was
here first thing Monday morning."
"I grew up in and around Joplin," Mark says. "I know this town like I know my own house. And that
morning, we had to use GPS to find our way around. It was that bad. Nothing was recognizable."
During the tornado, Rita took shelter in a hallway with her little dog. She knew that the storm was
over when it started raining on her head. The roof was gone, all her windows blown out. What the
tornado didn't take, the rain ruined. Her brand-new car was totaled. Her life, simply put, was gone.
Mark, however, was there.
"I know he was busy," Rita says. "But he was there first thing. He cut my daughter a check and said,
'Find her an apartment!' It was that fast. Because of him, I had a place to go." The following Saturday,
Rita was able to replace her car. Within two weeks, she had the funds to start looking for a new
permanent home. "I couldn’t believe that they worked so fast. I was looking for a new house, and I
knew people who hadn't even seen an agent yet!"
"When you become my client, I make a promise to take care of you," Mark says. "That's the basis of
Rita and the victims of the Joplin tornado will never be able to replace everything that was lost that
day. But they can take a little solace in knowing that Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance is here for
them. We're here for you.
"I know I have a guardian angel," Rita says.
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