We live a very short distance from Joplin, MO. They have made history in ways that no one wants to be known. It was very sobering to go from a weekend that was filled with family visiting, enjoying every second of life. We dropped our family off at the airport in Branson, MO. In one hour, at 6 pm CST, life would change forever for the people of Branson. Such a reminder to appreciate every moments. This is a documentation of the events as they occurred, photos and videos, and ways you can help.
A storm chaser’s video first. . . More locally updated news from Springfield. . . Updated news from the Joplin paper. . . Thank you for your prayers, support, and concern. The weather continues to deteriorate, hampering rescue efforts. See the end of this article for more links.
The first news I heard was that St John’s hospital had been directly hit. This photo shows a destroyed helicopter found lying on its side in the parking lot of the St. John Joplin Regional Medical Center.
We began to hear of other buildings impacted. The high school was having graduation. Were graduating seniors and their families hit? The school was indeed hit. It was a relief to find that graduation had been scheduled for 3 pm. The building was directly hit. People were inside at the time of the tornado.
We had no idea at this point of the number of casualties, but began to know it was going to be record-setting for our area.
We heard soon that I-44 was shut down. It finally opened up, over 12 hours later. Two semi-trailers were laying on their side. At this time, so much has happened that I don’t know the outcome of the impact it had on them.
The news began to become overwhelming. When we went to bed finally, it was pitch dark and overwhelmingly difficult to locate survivors. We had already heard that 24 people had lost their lives. That number is currently at 89, with more anticipated as time progresses.
We went to bed with no idea of what the night and day would hold. We have a number of friends and neighbors who are physicians in Springfield. I thought of each person, wondering if they were in Joplin assisting, or in Springfield, where many of the patients were taken for medical care.
Videos began to come in of the actual event. A video of a helicopter view of the city. . .
How many people were affected? How many had lost their lives? How long would the repair of 10 minutes of devastation take to repair? We don’t have all the answers to these questions.
People were posting an offer to help from hundreds of miles away. Phone numbers were posted because much of the city was off-limits for people to enter without permission, but the need for help was obvious.
As of this writing, 25 – 30% of the city has been destroyed. Eighty-nine people have been confirmed dead. That number is expected to rise throughout the day.
A video came in of people as they were in the middle of experiencing the storm. There are virtually no visual images, as they were taking shelter. The sounds of what they experienced sum up what it feels like to experience a tornado first-hand. It is very graphic, and may be too difficult to listen to. Here is the link, posted only as a reminder of how tremendous the experience was.
We had discussed with our family visiting just hours earlier how annoying our weather radio station was at times. I confessed that sometimes I turn it off, or worse, have unplugged it. We had a report of a tornado watch just an hour before leaving for the airport. I will never do this again. Initial reports were that they only had 5 minutes’ notice. This was later changed, and they did have a notice that came much earlier. Short of driving completely out of the area rapidly, they had no chance of knowing if they would make it or not. Medical records flew from the hospital. They have been found in Springfield, Bolivar, and many other cities that are more than an hour away from Joplin.
More building were catching on fire. How does one take in what had happened?How does one find any joy, any blessing in this? News reporters were breaking down while reporting, and continue today as they report the news. Local reports, national reporters. It is difficult to find anything good from this. It is a time when one is forced to count those moments of blessing. The survivors. There are still many buildings and homes at risk due to gas leaks. The first responders from so far away. The outpouring of support from across the country for a city in our backyard.
A facebook page was created within hours that both updates the information as well as posts thoughts from across the country. . . You can also find it under a search, Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery
The most important lesson learned from this is how fragile life is, and to not take a second of life for granted. We are still in shock. At this writing, we know that 89 people have lost their lives. A second tornado is potentially headed this direction, and there virtually is no safe place to hide should the unimaginable occur.
Please pray for each of the people in our area. The families who have lost a family member ~ or more. Strength for the first responders who continue to work. Those who are homeless, trying to figure out where they will live for many, many months. Pray for the suffering, those in the hospitals who have been directed to other facilities. Pray we do not have another tornado in Joplin today. It is already the most devastating tornado in history for the state of Missouri. Please consider financially assisting. The Convoy of Hope was reacting with help within an hour or two. Their twitter name is @ConvoyofHope. People can text CONVOY to 50555 to donate $10 to their work. The American Red Cross is present with assistance. Their twitter name is @RedCross. Habitat for Humanity is currently taking donations. The Today Show has put together a list of ways to donate, helpful information regarding contacting people at Joplin, locating pets, and other useful information. Updates from our local NBC station, KY3 News, have photos, videos, and ways that people can help. One direct link for many of these sources as well as others is from the Springfield News-Leader.
Hug your family. Don’t major in the minors. Take storm warnings seriously. Appreciate each moment of life. It can change in a second, without a chance to make amends.
Tagged: American Red Cross, Convoy of Hope, Disaster, Facilities, First Responder, Gas leak, Habitat for Humanity, Health, Hospital, Joplin, Joplin Missouri, KY3, Missouri, News, photography, Pictures, Springfield Missouri, St. John's Regional Medical Center, The Today Show, Tornado, Video