Friday, August 5, 2011

Joplin Two Months Later

Last month, a dear friend arranged through United Way to take her kids to Joplin and volunteer for a couple of days. She invited me and my kids along. I was tickled to watch my kids work so hard in the sweltering heat.

It was an experience.So many people with nothing, people who lost both homes and jobs. Although they need help, they won't take a bit more than absolutely necessary as they do all they can to get back on their feet. Many of them are spending part of their time volunteering, finding a way to make sense of it all as they serve and lift others.

Two short vignettes:

A family with two young sons, were sitting in the emergency room for dad's broken rib when it hit. Rented home? Gone. Mom's and Dad's jobs? Gone. Just paid off truck? Found totaled two blocks away in a tree with a car in the back. Husband had a stroke during the tornado and for a while, they thought he was dead. The things they saw and walked over as they left the hospital will never fully leave them. The boys are in counseling to deal with it, but the family is intact, with smiles on their faces as you talk to them. Grateful for life and more days together, regardless of what they've lost.

A man who's lived a hard life, you can see it on his face, was in Chicago when it hit and came to help his sister whose home was damaged. He lost everything in Katrina and could never remember feeling more desolate and alone. But people came from everywhere and lifted him back up and he vowed if anything like this ever happened again, he'd get there and volunteer and so there he was working and giving hope.

I could tell more, but suffice to say, we met amazing people who were undaunted in the face of devastation.

Here are some pics (click to see the larger version).

Notice the steps lead to the nowhere now that the house is gone, but the rubble has been cleared away ready to rebuild and the family is living in a trailer with a new shed.

Can you see the three pieces of metal wrapped around what is left of this tree?

Most of the rubble has been pushed to the streets to be taken away and the construction business is booming!

Signs of hope are everywhere.

Whoda thunk that you could safely ride out a tornado in the McDonald's playplace?

I loved the flags on display, this one from a tree... the middle of the rubble. a rebuilding sight.

It will take years, but the Joplin's spirit isn't broken. They'll be back. I loved this sign on a bank.

Vinyl banners were everywhere on businesses. This one says:

I had to take a picture of the Chick-Fil-A because our family adores that place.

Yes, the Home Depot that you saw on the news has reopened from this massive tent and it's a busy place.

There are still stickers on the new windows, but Walgreens is open.

Every church I saw had tents like this outside, collecting and distributing needed items.

I'll never forget the devastation, but what a beautiful thing to see people of all faiths come together to help our brothers and sisters in need.