Family left homeless after Joplin tornado surprised with new home

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EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI)-A family known for putting others before themselves was displaced by the Joplin tornado almost three years ago. The lives of Johnny and Kelly Cook and their four children changed forever when the storm destroyed their home and belongings on May 22, 2011.

After the tornado hit, Johnny spent endless hours transporting victims to the hospital. The community referred to him as one of their heroes.

Jenny Hays and her partner, Deborah Hays, started Illinois Angels Disaster Relief, an Edwardsville-based non-profit organization that collects donations and hauls supplies to victims of natural disasters. They started after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The group also helps rescue animals.

When the tornado struck Joplin, Jenny and Deborah went to help. It was just by chance that Deborah spoke with one of the Cook's daughters at a concession stand at a benefit for tornado victims. The Cook family was volunteering, even though they were victims themselves.

Hays suggested that the family move to Edwardville for a fresh start. So the Cooks took a leap of faith and moved last May.  They have been living from house to house, but that all changed on Friday. When the Cooks showed up thinking they we're going to try and finance a home in Edwardsville, they found out they were being given the home thanks to Illinois Angels Disaster Relief. Volunteers will help rehab the house and make it a home.

The oldest child, April, was excited to show off her room.  After recovering from that horrific day, leaving her friends in Joplin, and starting a new life in Edwardville, she always wanted a space to call her own.

Tomorrow is a new beginning for a family that can finally call something their home.

For more on Illinois Angels Disaster Relief, call 618-550-4513.

Facebook page: Illinois Angel Disaster Relief

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