kcstarjoplin

Jarod and Jessica Stice

They’d had a stormy argument that night and even talked of breaking off their engagement. Hours later, the tornado smashed the house where Jarod Stice and Jessica Bennett lived at 2420 S. Joplin Ave. into a pile of bricks.

Their Weimaraner, Baloo, was safe, having huddled with them in the basement.

Jessica’s wedding dress was found, not a tear in it, flattened under a fallen wall. Their weddings rings were lost. They found them.

Massive tragedies sometimes put other problems into perspective.

The Stices married the next July. Jarod is 33. Jessica, who had just graduated from Pittsburg State University 11 days before the storm, is 27 and works in the university’s development office.

Their son, Jude, is 18 months. They have another son, to be named Bowen, due July 4.

Changes since the storm: The family went through what Jarod calls a “minimalist streak,” realizing they didn’t need tons of material goods to be happy. It didn’t fully last.

What did? The couple moved from Joplin (the Joplin home had been rental property that Stice owned) and returned to Pittsburg, where they already had ties and jobs. They sold their lot to a neighbor.

So far lasting.

“I guarantee we both have PTSD because of this,” Stice said. “It’s even worse now that we have a kid.”

Storms unnerve Jessica more than they used to. It’s not just her safety she needs to think of. When the wind blows and sirens sound, they all seek shelter as a family.

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