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Joplin Remembered: New Mom Rides Out Storm in Hospital

(Joplin, MO) -- What a difference a year makes for Meranda Danner. May 22, 2011, Danner was huddled inside St. John's Hospital in Joplin with a newborn baby when the tornado hit.
(Joplin, MO) -- What a difference a year makes for Meranda Danner.

"It's amazing to know a whole year has passed," says Danner. "One, a year after the tornado and two, another year with my kids. It's just being thankful to be alive."

In the shadow of the building where she once cowered, she now celebrates, tracking every day since the May 22, 2011 disaster through the eyes of her two children, especially her daughter, Khloe.

"On the 20th was a Friday. I went in for my c-section."

Two days later, as the storm clouds shadowed Joplin, her doctor arrived at St. John's hospital for what was to be a final check-up.

"Recovery was great. The doctor came in about dinner time and he thought about releasing me."

But plans changed. The doctor's orders were to stay Sunday night.

"I could have been in the car or in the hospital," says Danner. 'I was glad to be in the hospital instead of a vehicle."

It's a decision she says saved several lives.

"About dinner time, at just a moments notice, we were cautioned to go outside to the hall for execute Condition Grey. I knew exactly what it meant, but I had my sister there, and Khloe's grandmother, so I didn't want to frighten them, but I knew what it was."

Meranda ignored the pain of recovery and walked the farthest she had in days. All her focus was on protecting the life she had just created.

"We all had to go into the hallway. They had some chairs for us, because I couldn't sit on the ground. It was a matter of seconds and transformers popped, windows and doors started popping open. We all dropped to the ground and started praying for our life. I knew that was probably the last moment I would look at my kids. I accepted the fact that I was going to die."

But as the storm passed, Meranda and her children sat on the eighth floor of the damaged hospital unharmed.

"We made sure all the moms and babies were ok. There was a housekeeper who threw herself on top of us. I had no shoes, just my hospital gown. I didn't get cut except for on my ankle. I got some glass shards, but it was amazing. The housekeeper was a guardian angel."

When it comes to birth stories, Khloe's is beyond comparison.

"There for a moment I thought she wasn't breathing, but she slept through the whole thing," says Danner of her daughter. "I've saved news clipping, photos, her baby book won't be big enough."

A life that got off to a stormy start, is now nothing but sunny.

"The things I saw were things you'd see in a war story. It's just going to mark a big year. It's amazing we were able to survive something so huge."
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