'Miracle' baby born the night of Joplin tornado now 1 year old

JOPLIN, Mo. - The Saporitos will soon celebrate their son Cord's first birthday.

"To look at him living day in and day out, it has gone kind of fast," said Cord's mom, Angie.

Last year, getting ready for this third child, they rushed to a Joplin hospital once Angie's contractions started. But when her contractions started getting further apart, her doctor sent her home.

"So we went waddling out of the hospital," Angie laughed. "We went back to bed, slept a little and woke up and it was the 22nd."

It was Sunday, May 22, 2011. The hospital the Saporitos had left was St. John's.

Hours later, Joplin was scrambling for cover from an EF-5 tornado. Baseball-sized hail sent Angie and her family rushing for cover to a family member's home. They watched the storm take over.

"You could tell it was a tornado. You could tell it had formed, it was like a wedge and it was just black, but we had no idea what was happening."

"About 10 minutes later, I started seeing posts saying Home Depot is gone and Wal Mart is gone," said Angie. "Then I saw somebody saying the hospital has been hit."

Seeing the first images on television of what happened to the place where she nearly gave birth to her son sent Angie back into labor.

"The reality hit that we were just there. I got upset...I had a couple little contractions that were starting to come off and on," Angie said, adding her husband tried to calm her down. "He said 'you've got to calm down, we have no where to go!' and then it dawned on me, we really don't!"

Angie could only hold off her baby for a few more hours. In the middle of the night, just after Joplin got torn apart, it was time. "My husband was still asleep and I said, we're having a baby!"

They drove into the chaos of leveled homes and unrecognizable streets blocked in most places for safety, even the route to Joplin's remaining hospital which was now overrun with injured people.

"My husband was literally yelling out the window, 'My wife is in labor, we have to go!'"

"I was really sure we were just having this baby in the car," said Angie. "I'll never forget when we walked into the lobby. There were people covered in debris that needed medical attention everywhere."

Though the operating rooms and trauma units were packed, the delivery wing was eerily quiet. In that quiet, the Saporitos had their miracle.

"He was born in the middle of such horrible chaos but he was something wonderful that came into our life."

From their hospital window, they could see the devastation, including St. John's, where their whole family almost spent that night.

"I don't know why horrible things happened but I truly believe in our faith and believe that God sent us home that Sunday and said you are not supposed to be here today!"

The Saporitos are blessed but haunted like so many in Joplin. "Every time the sky clouds over, these things come rushing back."

"It was just really hard because we were had a perfect baby wrapped and swaddled and snuggled up in our arms and people had nothing."

But they did have a daily reminder that they were spared. "My father-in-law gave him the name Cord-Nado!"

"He's gonna be like a little Cord-Nado born in the middle of all this!"

He is one of the very first of a new generation here, one that will never know the Joplin before.

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