August 10, 2011
Joplin tornado survivor, Heather Wyrick, recently received the surprise gift of a fully furnished home from a couple who just wanted to help her family, reports GreenwichTime.com
When the tornado bore down on Wyrick's home on May 22, she grabbed her three children and ran for safety underground.
The 200-mph winds ravaged her home, and Wyrick prayed to God that she must not choose which of her children to save from the winds.
After the storm subsided only a few minutes later, Wyrick and her three children - Emma, 9; Gracie, 5; and Jaxon, 2 - had survived but now were without a place to call home, reports the source.
"It was scary trying to figure out what we were going to do," she said to GreenwichTime.com. "Then we realized our car was totaled, and then the house started filling up with (natural) gas. We were worried because we could see other houses on fire."
Larry and Donna Graves witnessed the destruction in Joplin, Missouri while in town on a business trip. Their daughter, Julie Martin, told them about Wyrick and her family and the Graveses were inspired to help.
"(Donna Graves) called me at work one day and said she wanted to meet me and my family, and asked us to go to lunch," Wyrick said. "I thought that was odd, but we did, and she said, 'We'd like to help you with something,' I didn't know it would be like this."
Because Wyrick had already obtained a car, the only thing she lacked was a home. So, Donna Graves and her husband started searching for rental properties but found the demand for post-disaster housing in the area had driven up prices.
"Ten thousand people lost their house, so everybody's out there looking," Larry Graves said. "The first place we went with her to look at a house, it should have rented for $300, and (the owner) wanted $1,500 for it. I said, 'Before I do that, I'll just buy a house,' and it started leading to this."
Larry and Donna Graves are thankful they could afford to help and purchase a home for Wyrick and her three children.
"I decided I'd take some of what I had and help Heather," Larry Graves said.
Local realtor Don Meredith helped the Graveses view more than 100 homes and scour the Internet for available properties. When they decided on a house in Webb City, purchasing it was not enough, so the family spent the next few weeks buying furniture and renovating the place.
The motherly characteristics of Donna Graves made sure to take special care in designing the children's rooms.
"Emma told me how she wanted her room, and we tried to make it close to exactly what she wanted," Donna Graves said. "She said she wanted her own bed. She didn't want to sleep with Gracie anymore because she kicks."
The Graves' charity reaffirms Wyrick's aunt Dionne Zebert's faith in the generosity of strangers.
"It's wonderful," Zebert said of the house. "It's perfect for her. I mean a good established neighborhood, a fenced-in backyard, and the house is sound and good. It's just perfect."