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‘Joplin tornado’ Category

  1. Joplin, MO–One Year After the Storm

    May 22, 2012 by C.

    A Joplin Neighborhood- photo from CBS News

    A year ago today, the town I live in was turned upside down by an EF-5 tornado. For someone that has not experienced a tornado it is difficult to understand exactly what extent of damage we are talking about. Just imagine you came home one day and your home was now a pile of wood, bricks, sheet rock and insulation. All of your belongings are underneath all of the mess (if you are lucky) or blown away never to be recovered again. You can’t find your dog or your cat. You are hoping your wife had not made it home from work yet, but you cannot reach her because you have no cell phone service. That was the situation for thousands of Joplin residents that day.

    Overall, there were 7500 houses damaged or destroyed by the tornado. There were also 553 businesses impacted.  The numbers vary, but around 25% of the town was destroyed. 161 lives were lost.

    Roughly an hour after the storm had passed my mother and I went to Wal-mart and bought shovels, rakes, flashlights, gloves and bottles of water. Our immediate thought was to help them find as many people as possible as quickly as possible. The goal was to drive as close as possible to the damaged area and deliver the items to the people that needed it the most.

    The things we saw that night will be remembered as long as we live. We would stop at various check points trying to off-load the items, but that person would send us in even further. By the time our journey ended, we were a block from St. John’s hospital. The entire area looked like a bomb had exploded. Cars crumpled into balls, houses in piles as far as you could see, people running around screaming the names of their loved ones or neighbors that they had not yet located.

    When I got home that night, I sat and cried for hours.

    A year has passed and we are healing as a community. Led by our strong city government with assistance from the state government, we are quickly clearing the debris out and re-building. As of May 1st, 446 of the 553 businesses destroyed have either re-opened already or are in the process of re-opening. That is an amazing amount of progress in just a year.

    The real heroes here are all of the volunteers that have come to spend their time in Joplin. They tore down buildings, cleared lots, packed up things or helped at the emergency shelters. As of the end of April, Joplin had the help of 130,009 volunteers. What an incredible demonstration of the human spirit! We are so grateful for each and every person that gave money or time to help get us back up on our feet again.

    There are many that ask why we live here in the middle of tornado alley…why not move to another state that doesn’t have tornadoes? The only answer I have is this is our home. Joplin is a great place to raise kids, has a low cost of living and the people here are exceptional. Before FEMA could move in to assist, we took care of our own as best we could. There was no complaining, “Why us?” The attitude was, “What can I help you with, neighbor?” I don’t think you would find that in very many towns across this nation.

    We will never forget May 22nd, 2011 and the lives that were lost, but we are ready to move forward and make Joplin even stronger and better than before.

    “Remember, rebuild, rejoice”

  2. Tornado Blues

    December 28, 2011 by C.

    I have been a little down this holiday season. This happens to many people over the holidays due to family dysfunction, lack of a special someone, loss of a loved one or just sick of all the shopping/wrapping/shipping that goes on during this time of the year. But my melancholy mood is a little different.
    Living in Joplin, MO I know I have so much to be thankful for. My house wasn’t touched by the tornado, my work only had power loss for a few days and I personally did not know anyone that was killed by the storm. But my mind cannot stop thinking about those who were not so fortunate.
    I know that things can be replaced but I keep thinking about special Christmas ornaments their children might have made, a recipe from Grandma that cannot be recreated from memory and personal photos. Those are things that can never be replaced. Or maybe a loved one was killed by the storm. Maybe the house that many generations of family grew up in was destroyed. Many are spending their holidays in FEMA trailers, knowing in the back of their mind that this housing is only temporary and worrying about where they will go once the trailers are taken away. My biggest worry this holiday season was receiving the gifts on time that I had ordered online. It doesn’t hold a candle to what the tornado survivors are going through.
    Someone recently asked me how do I cope with living here now…it is so depressing and filled with large empty spaces that once were neighborhoods. I guess I don’t see it that way. I see that in seven months most of the businesses that were destroyed have re-built or moved into a new property. Houses are popping up in all those empty spaces…brand new houses that offer a family a new beginning. Progress is being made in leaps and bounds. Seven months ago when there was debris piled high on the sides of the streets, everything seemed so overwhelming. With most of that cleared off now it is like seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Things will get better…things will be back to normal sooner rather than later.
    A writing professor of mine said, “Always write what is on your heart.” When I sat down to write this evening it was not about the Joplin tornado but all the thoughts I had been having over the holidays kept jumping around in my mind so I knew that it should be put down on paper. I am not really sure what the point of all of it is other than to serve as a reminder of how many blessings I have…to try not to take simple things for granted and to have faith that things will only get better each and every day around here.
    “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.” –Charlie Chaplin

  3. This Won’t Beat Us

    June 6, 2011 by C.

    On May 22nd, 2011 an EF5 tornado destroyed one third of the town in which I live. Although my home was not touched in this tornado, it is still devastating. As I drive though the parts of the town that were affected, it is difficult to determine exactly where I am. There are some parts of town where you can see for miles, when at one time you saw a park or churches or homes or trees.

    Now when I look around my town I see heaps of metal and wood…the remains of someone’s life. Today I took a drive and saw someone’s wardrobe still hanging perfectly in their closet but that closet is the only section of their home still remaining. I saw cars that were wadded up by the high winds of the tornado and tossed away like a discarded piece of paper.

    On almost every street corner of the major intersections there are either temporary insurance agencies or church groups preparing grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for the displaced and the volunteers.

    Those churches and volunteers come from all over our country. I have seen Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and California tags. If I could hunt down every single person that is here to help this town and hug and thank them it would never be enough to express the gratitude I feel. People that just give up their lives and hop in a car to come to a town and assist strangers. It has restored my faith in mankind tenfold. Thank you and God bless you.

    The route I drive every day to get to work has pretty much all been destroyed. I look at what remains of my favorite Wal-greens store or the Sonic I would run to for lunch occasionally or worst of all the pizza place that has been in this town since I was a child. Then I think for just a second about exactly what has happened here and I cannot help but to cry. It has become a joke here that crying and driving is just as dangerous as texting and driving. They are right.

    Everyone here knows someone that has been affected by the tornado. They have either lost their home, or the place they work or someone they loved and in some cases all three of those things. It is hard being one of the few whose home and work are still standing and I am still surrounded by those I love. It is almost a feeling of guilt. Why them and not me? I spent hours in bed at night trying to process it all. I have finally realized there really are no answers. The tornado picked its victims. It was extremely random. You can go down a block where every single house but one has been completely leveled. You cannot logically explain a tornado and its path of destruction.

    I went out one evening with a few Rubbermaid tubs, bug spray and sunscreen. Every item was distributed within a two-block area. One couple even offered me a cold bottle of water. No one would take more than two tubs…as if they are thinking in the back of their mind someone might need these more than I do. This town is filled with amazing people and it becomes more evident to me each and every day since this tragedy occurred.

    I know why Joplin was hit by this tornado. We were hit because we can handle it. We can beat this. We can begin again, move on and live our lives just like everyone else. Live our lives for the ones that did not make it out of the tornado. Show them each and every day that we as a town can re-build and grow stronger in their honor. It won’t be easy and it won’t happen quickly but this town can do it.

    Our situation often makes me think of this Bible verse… “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We are strong, we will endure and we will find the way out of this.

  4. Delivery To Up Your Butt, New Jersey

    June 3, 2011 by C.

    This is a photo from the truck stop just east of town, moments after the tornado went through Joplin, MO.

    Trucks are my business. My job five days a week is to find business for the trucking company I work for. We are a bit abnormal for a trucking company in that we do not actually move trucks and trailers filled with goodies. We just move trucks. Let’s say you have a truck in Nashville, TN that you need delivered to another dealer in Salt Lake City, UT. You call me, I quote it and we work on finding a driver to get to Nashville and drive your truck to Salt Lake City. Besides doing that I also handle customer service for a Mack Trucks national account. My days are spent e-mailing, calling and bugging strangers to let me move their trucks. So as you can imagine, our town being hit by a F5 tornado has really screwed with communications. From Sunday until Tuesday afternoon we had absolutely no power. Come into work on Wednesday and the computers won’t work, our phones are dead and our cell phones cannot get a signal now inside the building.

    I was supplied with a Sprint wireless card and sent home to work. I was finally able to check my e-mails Wednesday evening but the connection was worse than dial-up so it was a very slow process to get through all 250 e-mails. Five of those e-mails were from the same customer that needed a quote. He sent two on Monday and 3 on Tuesday. The last one read, “Why are you not responding to my e-mails????????????????????”

    Now, I know this person had no idea where we were located and was just frustrated but I too was a little angry that a stupid tornado wiped a third of my town off the map. Here is my response…

    Mr. Dickhead (ok, I put his real name here)
    I am terribly sorry for the delay in getting you a quote. Our offices are in Joplin, MO. As you may have seen on the news we were hit with a F5 tornado and a good portion of our town has been destroyed. Needless to say communication has been a challenge for us. To be honest, we are all just fortunate to be alive and have an office to work in.
    The rate to move your truck from Poopstain, NM to Up Your Butt, NJ is $10,500 ( a 75% markup).
    Again, I am sorry that it took so long to get a response from us. Have a great evening!
    Not so sincerely,

    Of course he responded with, “Oh my God, I had no idea. I am so sorry. I will keep Joplin in my prayers.” So then I felt a little guilty and wrote back…”Just for praying for Joplin, I am going to give you a 5% discount! We really need some prayers!”

    Some days I like my job and some days it makes me want to kill people. Is that normal???