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4 days later….

May 25, 2011

Four days later, the chaos and devastation of the tornado, to me, is still the same as it was on Sunday.  There may be some roads that are opened, which basically means that the trees and power lines have been moved to the side of the road.  When people say that Joplin looks like a war zone, it does.  From the military plane parked at the Joplin airport, to the army humvees driving down the road, to the aerial photos of homes and businesses just completely leveled to the ground.

The only plus side is the weather channel and CNN are no longer airing the tornado damage of  Joplin 24/7. Because, since Sunday, that’s all I have been watching…I told a friend it was reminiscent of 911. I couldn’t stop watching. I couldn’t stop hearing the horror stories and the death toll was rising each hour…

I stayed home Monday, and kept Maddox home as well…We ventured out Tuesday, only to get pics of some property for the owner who is in the Philippines on a medical mission…Again, we went down 15th. The wreckage was still the same.  The people were still the same…Dazed, confused, numb, lost…We turned behind the property and I quickly realized I shouldn’t have gone that way. It was a residential area. Was being the operative word. People were rummaging through their destroyed, leveled homes, searching for anything that was salvageable. It was heartbreaking and all I wanted to do was to get off that road. Instead, traffic is backed up. My heart is breaking. Cameron keeps saying, “Uh oh! Uh oh!”  He gets it. He understands this is not what is normal. This is bad. We finally get to the end of the street, and though it was only 5 blocks it felt like forever, and we had no clue where we were. Ryan and I both were trying to mentally think, when we looked across the road and beyond the wreckage and debris recognized what is left of Dillions…Our grocery store. We both gasped. I was shocked. We were on 20th street and not only did we not realize it, we didn’t recognize it, because everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING was gone.

 

This was Charles Burt. A real estate office…and to those who knew of it, it was a very pretty building…

 I immediately turned right. I wanted out of there. I felt like we were intruders. Our home was safe. Our kids were safe. Our car was safe. I felt guilty. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there, because I didn’t lose anything, but yet, I did. I lost part of my town. I lost our grocery store. I just felt lost and loss. Those two words hold so much meaning right now, because there are no words for this disaster. This catastrophe. How ironic that Saturday was supposed to be the “end of the world” and now Joplin, the heart of Joplin, right in the middle, looked like it was the end of the world.

The horror stories are just that, horrific.  Stories of a man being impaled by a flying board of some sort…A wife lost her husband and her only two children in Home Depot. The same Home Depot I was just in Friday night with Maddox…A child pinned under a car, for days…while her parents frantically searched for her.  For those people on Rangeline, who all rocked that car off that child, for the parents to rush and grab and hold….How do you witness that? How do you get over that?  How do you get the parents screams out of your head? How do you  move on? And there are so many more stories… How do you pick up the pieces and move on?  And I wasn’t even there. I didn’t even witness it. But I heard about it and am haunted by it. My heart is broken by it.  And selfishly, part of me doesn’t want to go searching…Do I admire those that do? Whole-heartedly I do, and do I feel like I could do it, yes, I do, but I’m not out there. I don’t have a reason. Would it break my heart, yes, would it make me appreciate life more, YES!  But is my heart already broken?  Yes. Do I appreciate life more already, YES!  I want to stay home and watch the news, hold Cameron as tight as I can, til he begs me to let go….eat cookies, and beer bread…and that’s precisely what I have been doing.  Have I gained 10 pounds, oh yes, I am sure. But for now, it’s my comfort. It’s my security blanket and yet the cookies and bread and hugs still haven’t stopped the sadness that overwhelms me at times.

Driving home, my stomach dropped when I saw these rescue vehicles, from as far away as St. Louis…I was grateful for them to be here to help, but dreaded what they would find.

 

 

Then you see houses, like this one, with an “X” and a date marked on it…Ryan says it means it was checked and no one was in there…I silently wondered what the houses that had people trapped in them were marked…

And yet, every corner, it seems, has some sort of set up dedicated to those who have lost…This was in front of the courthouse…The tyson trailor and a huge tent with tables of water for victims.

Almost every restaurant was giving away free food.  Every church that was left standing had food drives, clothing drives…The Tide truck came into town. US Cellular was giving away free chargers and swapping out batteries. Target had hygiene packets for people. Insurance adjusters were on site in the parking lot on the corner of 7th and Rangeline, for people to come and file claims.

 Across the street was another huge trailor of some sort for the victims. The help was everywhere the devastation was and yet still, it’s not enough. The drive to help and provide is overwhelming. You can just feel the love, and as wonderful and inspirational as it is, the sadness is still ever-present.  Is the faith to rebuild there? Yes, of course.

American flags are everywhere…in piles of ruin…This house had minor damages from the debris of the tornado. But yet her flag still waves, though the pole is broken, and her plaque on the house says it all, “God bless our home.”

But the cleanup seems neverending…the progress is slow. But the hope is there. The faith is there. I went to Wal-Mart to get stuff for the house and you can tell some of the people there were the ones injured in the tornado, and my heart just breaks for them. I saw black eyes, cuts, gashes, and yet, they were happy. Happy to wait in line and happy to see other people they knew and you heard them ask if their house survived. It was hard not eavesdrop…The cashier asked if I had lost anything. I told him no, and asked if he had. He said no as well. He asked if I had been out to see anything and I told him no, just 15th street. He said he hadn’t ventured out because a child had died en route to the hospital because of the traffic of people, whether they were gawkers or not, and he didn’t want to be a part of it, and I didn’t want to be either. Today, they basically closed all access to any access to the damage, and no one can enter without a permit. This is to prevent looters, which is shameful to think of people doing.   

I know the tornado has happened but at the same time I forget. I saw a commercial for Home Depot and thought, “Oh, I want that” and then remembered we didn’t have a Home Depot…Today, on the way to work,Cameron wanted McDonald’s for lunch and I am finally growing tired of my tacos…So I thought Backyard Burger sounded good…Then I remembered it, too, was gone. Its going to take some getting used to, because they are all gone!  And then I sat at the store, feeling guilty, because I am selling clothing that others are giving away…Again with the guilt.

And the storms just keep coming. For the first time ever, we took cover last night. The sirens were going off, my phone was going off, and everyone was saying take cover. And everyone was asleep but me, so I woke Ryan up and he grabbed Cameron and I grabbed Maddy, and we ran downstairs and took cover and prayed.  And the tornado passed us but it went on to cause more damage elsewhere…and tonight, we are under a tornado warning…And so I blog while watching the news at the same time…And tonight, I can tell will be another late night, watching the weather, watching the stories, and dealing with the sadness of all the loss of Joplin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Dawn Briner permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:29 AM

    I am just so happy to know that you and your family are all okay. I called your dad to ask about you and felt saddened that he did not know who I was at first. My own fault, having not taken the time or effort to get to know him through all the years he has been married to my Aunt. It was late and I just wanted to know if you was okay. My Nephew just informed me that he has an Aunt and Uncle that are living with their families in Joplin and they have yet to hear from any of them. He worried but does not know who to call nor would he know where to go if he were to go to Joplin.

    The tornado that went through Oklahoma Tuesday, destroyed my sister-in-laws house in Newcastle. We now have their children at our home while they try to sort things out and figure out other living arrangements. Their vehicles were destroyed as well and Michael and I took them our van to use until their insurance helps them replace those as well.

    I understand what you mean by feeling so saddened and broken hearted from seeing all the devastation. But I also got a wonderful view of just how wonderful the human spirit can be. Everyone was helping someone. Walmart sent a truck to all the neighborhoods passing out their little blue bags filled with food to each of the homes, or what once was a home. Teenagers were everywhere helping move debris and do whatever they could, taking bottles of cold water to everyone they could reach.

    I heart goes out to the families who have suffered so much loss. Oklahoma is still searching for a little three year old boy that got sucked out of the protection of his parents arms. Their youngest child also taken in the storm died from his injuries.

    I love you Bahar and I’m happy your family is okay. God bless you and keep you.

    Like

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