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.


  1. People tend to forget once the news of the crisis has passed.
    My sister and her family live in Joplin. Well now they live in California but had been in the middle of having their home up for sale when the Tornado hit. They had lived in Joplin for 15 years and my Brother in law was in the Stake Presidency.
    The Stake President, who's home was destroyed, ended up buying my Sister's house - which was a blessing for them because they needed it to sell so they could purchase another home in Ca.
    But they still could not leave. Last I heard my nephew and his wife are still there helping with the clean up efforts - they have been there for months. They just knew so many people.
    It's still amazing to me.
    Neat that you got to go help and that your kids got to see that opportunity.

  2. Oh my goodness. That is unbelievable devastation.
    It is wonderful that you would be able to go and help those in need.
    It's overwhelming to see the need in so many places.

  3. Thanks sis... love ya

  4. Wow, that is mind boggling! What an experience to witness all that. How wonderful that you were able to go and help!! Love ya!