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The tornado sirens were sounding and the weather seemed to worsen. Quickly. It was Sunday night, just after 5 p.m. and Motazedi gathered his wife and three kids and headed to the family's basement in a wooded residential neighborhood of Joplin. The family stayed in the basement about 30 minutes, during which time they lost power but sustained almost no damage to their home.
But Motazedi was worried about SNC Squared's office because he knew that the magnetic doors would only remain locked for another hour or two on battery power if the lights were out in that part of town a couple miles away.
Motazedi grabbed the keys to the building and with his family in tow started to drive to the office. They had not gone far before realizing that a tornado had indeed struck Joplin and decimated whole neighborhoods.
"We just saw this massive chaos. I'm trying to weave my way through it. The kids are screaming and crying. My wife is saying, 'I can't believe this. I can't believe this,' " Motazedi said.
The Motazedis spotted a couple with four small children, including an infant covered by wet towels, walking in the general direction of a hospital. Motazedi pulled over and packed the family, who were in a daze, freezing cold and suffering from multiple lacerations, into his car and drove them to Freeman Health System Hospital nearby.
At Freeman, Motazedi saw a familiar pediatrician and asked if she needed help. The doctor said she was shuttling supplies to Freeman from St. John's, which had been heavily damaged by the tornado. Motazedi left his family at Freeman and got back in his car, following the pediatrician back to St. John's.
"The building was completely destroyed. It literally looked like a bomb went off. But we climbed through the debris and got gloves, peroxide, stitches, Band-Aids, anything we could dig out," Motazedi said. He made multiple trips back and forth before St. John's security said the building was not structurally sound and shut down access.
Back at Freeman, Motazedi gathered his family and headed home to put the kids to bed. He had gotten a text from one of his techs that the office was a wreck. About 11:30 p.m., he found a tarp and drove to the office to check out the damage. Or he tried to, at least. Debris and downed power lines in the road prohibited vehicle access, so Motazedi had to hoof it in the dark. He thought he was in the right spot, but the total devastation made finding a landmark impossible, he said.
"I got to the street and said, 'I wonder where my building is.' I turned around and saw the L-shaped parking lot and realized that this was actually my parking lot. I looked over [where the building should be] and I realized, 'That's my business.' It was kind of like, 'Wow, there's nothing left. I hope our backups are good,' " Motazedi said. "[There] was actually a sense of relief. I knew we didn't have any techs working over here. I had immediately texted all my techs and they all had responded that they were fine. So no one we knew was injured [nor] their immediate family. That was a relief. All this stuff can be replaced. This is insignificant."