Thursday, June 02, 2011

Joplin

Our first realization of how bad the situation was came early Saturday morning, we were headed into Joplin and planned on picking up a bag of ice at the sonic on Main street. We follow the directions to the sonic, only to realize as we come in sight of it that it was on the edge of the twister. Driving through the destruction was surreal, I'm still not sure I have my mind wrapped around just how much is out of place, even a week after the event.

We cleared up the yards of 2 individuals on Saturday, and meet someone who set us up with lodging at a Christian youth camp not far out of town. Sunday we came back into Joplin early, and found a husband and wife just returning to their house for the first time after the storm. The center hallway of the home was the only portion of the structure still standing, and that was where they had stayed with their dogs to ride out the storm. We hauled what was remaining of their clothing from the wreckage, and with the assistance of a bulldozer someone else was helping with, recovered the gentleman's 1 of handmade cabinets and his retirement watch, as well as their daughter's wedding dress. This may have been our most effective assistance, on a person to person level. That afternoon we hauled relief supplies to various locations, and then found more yard clearing to help with. Fun parts of the day included repairing a head-to-nail collision and making one of my crew recover from heat exhaustion.

Leaving town on Monday, at first glance it looked as if nothing had changed across town. But as we got through the overwhelming scope of the disaster and began to realize the details of the situation, it was clear that much had changed. The enormous number of relief volunteers, the churches, the homeowners and anyone lending a hand had started to chip away at what the storm left.
The amount of work remaining is mindboggling in its scope. Most of the damaged area will require a clean sweep with a bull dozer before the reconstruction even begins. But Rome was not built in a day, and I this American town will not be denied.

2 comments:

Gino said...

thanks for the testamonial. this region was on my short list of relocation spots before i decided on Ft smith a couple yrs back, so i read about the twister with interest.

i have good friends in nearby Neosho. thankfully, they were spared, but had i been closer than being i CA, it would pleasure me to help out in joplin as you did.

Palm boy said...

Gino, just wait a few years. You will have an epic earthquake to help out with ;)