Scenes From Joplin: VARs Help Customers, Each Other After Tornado

Joplin Tornado

Five days after a tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., destroying almost one-third of the town, CRN's Scott Campbell visited two Joplin VARs to get their perspective on living through the natural disaster and how they're helping customers—and each other—pick up the pieces.

To envision the scale of damage the Joplin tornado, imagine a half mile to your left and a half mile to your right from where you are now. Then imagine 2 ½ miles ahead of you and 2 ½ miles behind you. Now picture everything in that space is destroyed. Every building, every car, every tree, every everything.

Planning Session

Executives from Heartland Technology Solutions, a Joplin, Mo.-based VAR, discuss their strategy for the day at 7 a.m., including what families and friends still need help salvaging personal belongings from the wreckage. The HTS office on Main Street is located about eight blocks from where the edge of the path of destruction. From left are Arlin Sorensen, CEO; Larry Hedin, vice president of sales and marketing; Jane Cage, COO; and Connie Arentson, president.

Help On The Way

Jane Cage, COO of HTS (left), Arlin Sorensen (2nd from right) and Larry Hedin (right) tell Cookie Estrada of the Joplin Family YMCA that they've secured a new Mitel phone system for his organization, which was overwhelmed with calls after announcing the YMCA would offer free daycare to families affected by the tornado.

Business Continuity Plan

Larry Hedin, HTS' vice president of sales and marketing, works at his desk, which contains the solution provider's disaster recovery and business continuity plan, completed only two weeks prior to the tornado's arrival. The plan helped HTS to more quickly and efficiently offer support for its customers, Hedin said.

Tragic Headlines

Arlin Sorensen, CEO of HTS, talks on the phone in the HTS office, where a nearby copy of the Joplin newspaper details the continuing horror of the tornado's aftermath.

VARs Chip In

Hedin helps unload a truck full of toys and other supplies for the Joplin Family YMCA. VARs from one of HTS' peer groups, Ingram Micro Mastermind, collected more than $2,500 worth of donations for Joplin residents. John Freienmuth of J&J Technical Services, a Rio Rancho, N.M.-based VAR and Mastermind member, drove the goods all the way from New Mexico on his way to a college graduation further East.

SNC Squared

John Motazedi, CEO of SNC Squared, a Joplin, Mo.-based VAR holds a laptop picked from the rubble at one site. The VAR joked that he was going to submit a warranty claim to the vendor. SNC's office was destroyed by the tornado but the VAR was up and running by 2 p.m. on Monday in a virtual capacity. By Thursday at 5 p.m., all his clients were back online.

Emergency Delivery

IT equipment piles up near the kitchen of Motazedi, CEO of SNC Squared, a Joplin-based VAR that had its office destroyed. Motazedi relocated his operations to his basement but supplies ready for customers soon filled other parts of his house.

No Time For Cards

SNC Employees and other volunteers set up temporary offices in Motazedi's basement, where cables and wires snaked in every direction.

Boot-Up Time

SNC technicians work check on several servers that were set up in Motazedi's basement, creating a temporary NOC for SNC Squared's clients.

Server Survival

These machines were pulled from the tornado rubble and cut from damaged racks. And still worked. SNC Squared salvaged a number of servers for customers and had them up and running in short order.

Rest In Pieces

Motazedi shows off one server that didn't survive. But in some cases, SNC Squared pulled out a drive that was successfully recovered.

Triage Room

These servers were salvaged but await a check-up from a technician to see if they're still operational. The three on the left were in the middle of being tested

Receiving Station

In times of emergency, a driveway can serve as a delivery/inventory reception area. Here, Motazedi explains how SNC Squared takes in incoming new product to replaced damaged goods.

Garage Warehouse

If a driveway can serve as a delivery station, then a garage can serve as a warehouse. Here, stacks of APC products wait to be designated for a customer impacted by the tornado.

First Responder

Motazedi, at right, explains how Craig Hillyard, CEO of Network Data Services, a Little Rock, Ark.-based VAR and fellow member of Heartland Tech Groups, drove to Joplin to spend a week helping one of his peers. Hilliard, left, was instrumental in helping SNC Squared get back up and running, Motazedi said.


Motazedi pokes through the debris of his old office building. He got excited when he found a box of chocolate bars with the company's logo that he had made recently for customers.

Total Destruction

Motazedi points out where his office once stood. He said he's found a couple of items his children made for him, but nothing else that he recognizes from the room where he once presided over SNC Squared.

Employees Safe

Motazedi stands on a concrete exterior wall that collapsed on top of his office. From that vantage point, one could only see devastation in every direction. Motazedi was relieved that no employees were in the office at the time of the tornado.

Where To Go?

Motazedi stands atop the rubble of his former office. As of June 1, SNC Squared still had not secured new office space for his reseller business.

Total Destruction

What was once was a green, scenic view from SNC Squared's office has been replaced by this, less attractive view (click here for video of Motazedi surveying the tornado damage).

Hospital Closed

Motazedi said he's not supposed to see St. John's Regional Medical Center from his parking lot. But now the condemned building is clearly visible in the distance.

Out-of-Town Assistance

Brent Morris from Success Computing in Minneapolis surveys the damage in Joplin with Arlin Sorensen (center) and Larry Hedin (right) of Heartland Technology Solutions.

A Souvenir

John Motazedi shows off an SNC Squared coffee mug, one of 500 that he had in the office before the storm. After the storm, he's found three of them, and views the other 497 now scattered who-knows-where as "free advertising all over town."

Home Repairs

A man who lived in a residence near SNC Squared's office sorts through the debris for anything meaningful. "I'd invite you in for a drink, but my kitchen is kind of a mess right now," the man said.


Church Cross Spared

The cross of this church in Joplin has been much-photographed in the days following the May 21 tornado. The church's brick walls were torn away but the cross remained in place.

Street Signs

With no recognizable landmarks to go by, including street signs, the names of roads were painted right on the road to help visitors find their way around.

Reconstruction Efforts

Days after the storm, at least one building was already under construction amid the devastation that surrounds it. Most Joplin residents believe that the city can be rebuilt as it was.

High School Ruined

The ruins of Joplin High School stand behind the school's entrance sign, now missing its J, L, I and N. The campus was one of three schools damaged in the disaster. Joplin seniors had graduated just hours before the tornado struck.

'Where Do We Go'

The message board on a church outside the impacted area sums up the feelings of many Joplin residents.