Couple marries in Joplin one week after devastating tornados

McKenzie ‘Brooke’ Watson and fiancé Aaron Cox agonized over whether to go ahead with their wedding in Joplin, MO after devastating tornadoes tore through much of the town just over a week ago. But, family and friends felt the symbol of hope provided by the newlywed couple was just what Joplin needed.

Wedding guest, Lynn Hamper, said, “We all need it: hope for tomorrow. And what better way than a young married couple?”

You might remember the couple from the viral video Cox recorded of himself and his fiancée desperately searching for his sister in the aftermath of the tornado. Sarah Cox, the groom’s sister, feels lucky to have survived despite the total loss of her home.

Church survived Joplin tornado

The First United Methodist Church in Joplin, MO was one of several essential elements of the Coxs' wedding plans to survive the tornado.

The alteration shop where Watson’s wedding gown was stored at the time of the tornado was also completely destroyed. But, the wedding gown somehow survived.

In an interview with CNN Saturday morning, Cox said, “We came across the alteration store. It’s blown apart, the roof is half on, the glass is all blown off and my fiancée realises that it was the alteration shop.”

“So she crawls in through a broken window and I’m waiting outside for her,” Cox continued. “She emerges a few minutes later with this big grin on her face. And she says this was the only dress that was not on the floor, in shreds or soaked. And her dress is there in the white bag still hanging.”

The wedding gown wasn’t the only essential element of Watson’s wedding plans to survive the tornado. The wedding ceremony was held, as planned, at Joplin’s First United Methodist Church, which barely escaped damage from the massive EF-5 tornado that destroyed over 1/3 of the city. The wedding was followed by a reception in the historic Ramsay building in downtown Joplin, Missouri.

At least 139 people were killed in the May 22 tornado, with more than 900 injured and over 150 still missing today. The American Red Cross continues to accept donations for survivors, many of who are currently housed in shelters until acceptable housing can be obtained. Visit the Red Cross website to find out how you can help. You may also donate directly to the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund by visiting the Community Foundation of the Ozarks website.

Joplin tornado update

  • Some Joplin residents left homeless after the tornado will be placed in rental housing an hour away, while FEMA contemplates the possibility of bringing in trailers like they did for Katrina survivors.
  • A major environmental crisis looms in Joplin in the aftermath of last week’s tornado.
  • Follow day-by-day updates on Joplin’s recovery on The Daily Update from EOC.


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