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Devastated by the damage…

May 23, 2011

Today Joplin was hit with a tornado. Just last week, I was telling a friend in Oklahoma that we never get tornadoes in Missouri like the ones we witnessed in Oklahoma. Having lived here in Joplin for the last 6 years, we have only sustained damaged from “straight-line” winds…That was two years ago…We, being the boys and I, ran over to Ann’s house after watching Maddy’s wooden swingset fall into pieces like a lincoln log toy structure. I cried, for Maddy, for the friend’s of ours who spent all day helping us put it together…Then we ran next door and watched our neighbor’s fly through their fence into the backyard of her neighbor behind her. And we cried again. This was nothing compared to what we saw today. I used to love watching tornadoes, loved storm-chasing with Ryan, but now its just too sad.

This afternoon started off with a tornado warning…nothing major, nothing that made us take notice. We simply went on with our day. We started to notice how frequently the Emergency Broadcast Warning would interrupt the tv, so we started to take  more notice. It hadn’t started to rain, but then we got up to check…Then came the hail and the torrential downpour. While watching the rain pour from the garage, Ryan turned on his tv and said, “There’s a tornado on the ground in Joplin!”  We watched the mile-wide cloud from the storm tower camera of the television station, til it went off the air…We waited a little longer, then decided to head out.

We took Ryan’s car and as soon as we left the neighborhood, we noticed the power outages. We didn’t understand how our home, merely a few blocks away, had power…Then the hail and rain started again. It quickly stopped and we headed up Main Street. We weren’t merely out to “gawk” or “rubberneck”, I wanted to check on our business. But once we got downtown, and saw the debris, we quickly realized that the damage was going to be severe. Ambulances and fire trucks and police cars from local and surrounding towns were taking over the streets. By the time we got to 15th and Main, we were routed up 15th, because the police had blocked off  the rest of Main Street. We passed a driver whose windshield was completely smashed in and he literally drove with the top of his body hanging out his window….We were in shock.  People whose houses were damaged were aimlessly wandering the street, looking for neighbors, pets, belongings…I wanted to reach in the backseat and grab the blanket we always have in the back and hand it someone, anyone, but then remembered we weren’t in my car…We saw a guy holding his cut arm, with a towel and again I wanted to reach for the first aid kit we carry and again, remembered we weren’t in my car. We passed trees on top of buildings, trees uprooted from the ground, houses and land and trees completely demolished and all I could think was, “how?” “why?”….We saw people directing traffic because the police had not yet made it to that intersection, and these were the same people whose homes were completely gone. But they weren’t concerned about their homes, they were concerned about getting people in and out safely, without chaos…We saw people in Academy uniforms walking and then realized Academy was demolished…and these people were probably walking home.  There are no words that explain the damage done. But the emotions felt were overwhelming. They were heartbreaking, heart-wrenching, and I immediately realized how blessed we were. We had a home to come home to. We had our family together. We were safe.

We headed back home, again passing emergency vehicles from Lamar, Asbury, Oronogo…The store was fine. The town is not. Later, after the kids went to bed, we watched more footage on television. We later heard the loud, “swoosh, swoosh, swoosh” of the national guard’s helicopters flying in…We received calls and messages hours later, due to the cell towers being down, and told all of our friends and family we were fine, we were safe, but we are sad. We are heart-broken, because Joplin is damaged…And the recovery, it seems, will take years to rebuild…The death count is rising, the sirens are still going, the Facebook posts are still coming in…Friends are posting they lost houses, friends are posting they found their families…I want to grab all the blankets and food and pillows and everything we don’t use and just hand it over, but it’s not enough…

Tomorrow is a new day, but there is more rain and storms to be expected…All we can do is pray and hope…

 Here is some of the footage we took…it’s nowhere near what the damage truly is. We were merely on the outskirts….Ryan said tomorrow the roads should be clear and I could go out, but sadly, after seeing the damage on the news tonight, I know the streets won’t be cleared for days…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcrIj34s390

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 23, 2011 2:19 AM

    Love you so much.

    Like

    • Jody permalink
      May 23, 2011 8:03 AM

      How heartbreaking 😦 I’ll be thinking of you all and all those people that lost their families, houses etc… So, so sad. Big hugs to you xoxoxo

      Like

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