Joplin hospital administrator describes what it was like when the tornado struck

JOPLIN, Mo. - Shelly Hunter had to make big decisions fast when a tornado ripped through St. John's Hospital in Joplin, Mo., last year.

"My first thought was, I wonder how many people, patients and coworkers, were dead. That was very scary to me," said Hunter. She was the hospital administrator on call when the tornado hit the nine-story building and blew out all the windows.

Security camera video shows the tornado blowing through a waiting area. The power went out. Nurses had to pump oxygen bags by hand. Six people inside died.

"You never expect your entire building to go down. All of the backups, the radios and communications equipment," Hunter said. "You never plan for that."

A new hospital is under construction on a huge site on the south edge of town.

It should open in 2015. The name has been changed to Mercy Hospital.

Temporary facilities are in use just east of the old hospital. Although it's made of pre- fab components, it's rated to withstand 200 mph wind.
 

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