Joplin, MO Tornado Craziness Part 2

At first I was going to make this post about more of the devastation around Joplin.  After driving through what I would refer to as “ground zero”, I feel that unless you actually see it for yourself, in person, no photo will ever show you the true devastation.  Imagine driving down a main road in your city that you have driven down umpteen times before, now imagine it flattened into piles of twisted metal, wood and stone.  Most almost unrecognizable. 

So I thought I could focus this entry on the GOOD things going on around Joplin.  The things that bring that warm fuzzy feeling back.  The things that make you proud to live in a wonderful country! 

Five days after the tornado hit, the total number of volunteers registered at MSSU 7,546, total number of volunteers registered via the phone 12,000, total number of calls to Wellness Call 6,137, and 750 people deployed to work per day with the recovery.  I saw police, fire and rescue EMT workers from every state bordering Missouri.  Friends of mine in the medical field came down to offer their help along with many, many of their colleagues.  I have heard reports of Home Depot and Wal-Mart rushing to the aid of all their employees.  Helping with temporary housing, furniture, linens and more!!

Besides the organized disaster relief organizations, there is also neighbor helping neighbor down here.  A friend from college happens to work at Empire Electric, as an electrical engineer, down here in Joplin.  Last week he clocked 117 hours, according to his wife, helping restore power to the city.  He is salary so essentially 77 of those hours are volunteer.  His wife then showed a picture of a gentleman mowing her lawn.  A family had volunteered to mow all the Empire Electric employees’ lawns since they were clocking so many hours, for the memorial weekend! 

Flags are flown proudly amidst the rubble.  They quietly state, “We will rebuild and stay strong” as they flap in the wind.  A local car shop was changing tires for free as nails and whatever else reeked havoc on tires.  A shop is offering free chainsaw sharpening.  Towing companies are towing crumpled heaps of what used to be vehicles for free.  Volunteers from all over the country…yes country are coming here not only to help those directly affected by the tornado but to also help feed the volunteers.  Hotels are allowing volunteers to stay for free.  Restaurants are offering free coffee, meals, snacks to victims and volunteers.  Groups are setting up tents in parking lots to feed the extra utility crews here as well as police and fire personnel.    Churches are serving as shelters.  Lawyers are banning together to offer free legal advice to victims in respect to insurance claims and lost property.   Areas are set up for teen victims to hang out and get their mind off of the destruction.  Local area pet kennels and Humane Society are looking after misplaced animals.  People are not only donating money, food and clothing but more importantly…their time.  Cooking meals, comforting the elderly, reading to children, helping clear fallen trees, boarding up houses, covering roofs with tarps.   Joplin doesn’t feel alone and is definitely thankful for all help the town is receiving.  The City of Joplin facebook page thanks volunteers at least 2 times a day!  It is heartfelt! 

A man’s whose home is one of the few left standing on Murphy street (a very hard hit area) has transformed what is still standing into a make-shift mission to help out his fellow neighbors.  Amazing! 

Despite the horrid appearance of things down here, the morale is high.  The focus down here is on the future and how this town will recover and rebuild.  Not of defeat.  Not of self-pitiness.  Not of helplessness.  This town is high on hope and positive thoughts and that is MAJORLY due to the overwhelming flood of support and help that was shown by our fellow neighboring towns and states. 

Joplin still needs your help! 

There are many ways to help but if you donate money, please research the organization first to make sure they are reputable. 

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS ALREADY HELPED OUT!  We will need your help for months to come!

Memorial Weekend 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Weekend.  I know we certainly did!  My parents and sister came down from St. Louis this weekend.   It was the first time down for my mom and sister so their first trip might be etched in their brains forever as I took them on a ride through the tornado-wrecked part of town.  My boys LOVE when family visits and I LOVE seeing Ryan practically jump out of my arms into my dad’s!  I want the boys to remember holidays and summer by memories filled with family time!   We barbecued, drank, played outside, got some sun, the boys swung about 3.9 million times and we just enjoyed being together which was awesome. 

We were able to do that thanks to all of our veterans and active military for dedicating your lives to keeping our country free.  For that I thank each and every one of you! 

The town of Joplin also had a Memorial service for all those who were lost in last week’s devastating tornado.  President Obama even came into town.  My heart goes out to all the family and friends of the people who were lost and also to the people whose material lives were lost in the tornado. Homes, photographs, baby’s first locks of cut hair, baby blankets, family heirlooms, everything lost.  I know things can be replaced, but my heart aches for their loss also.  The outpouring of support for Joplin and the amount of volunteers makes my heart a bit more happy.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped this town recover. 

Today also starts my Memorial Week to my 20’s.  On Friday I turn the big 3-0!  So this week I will live up my last week of a being a twenty-something!  I am not at all freaked about turning 30.  Not one bit actually.  The first half of my 20’s were rather rough for me.  I was in an almost all male college, studying a degree I was earning to make others happy and spending WAY too much time making a certain someone my priority when he clearly made me an option.  A ton of heartache that could have been avoided if i just listened to MANY good friends.  Lesson Learned.   The second half of my 20’s were SO. MUCH. BETTER.    I met Freddy, we got married, he gave me two beautiful boys and taught me to trust again.  I feel wiser, stronger and have much more of a take no shit attitude.  I take some time for myself now and then and have learned to love unconditionally.  I feel like a totally different person than that 20-year-old girl I used to be.  That makes me happy.  I have grown and I feel that I have done so in the right direction!  I like the person I am now so much better than the person I was at 20!  I am excited for my 30’s!  I have learned from my 20’s and am ready to make this new decade awesome! 

So here is to thanking and remembering those who have served our country and thanking and remembering those lost in the tornado and those who are helping to recover, and thanking and remembering those who helped me be a better person these last ten years!

A great Memorial Weekend…

Joplin, MO Tornado Craziness Part 1

Okay Mother Nature, you can quit being such a bitch to us! Seriously. This poor town can barely take any more!

Sunday evening while the boys and I enjoyed a nice dinner with Freddy’s oldest daughter, Nicole, and her girlfriend, Marie, a few miles away a tornado was about to rip the head off of a section of Joplin, and then proceed to spit down it’s throat. Graphic, I know. However hardly as graphic as the horrible devastating pictures of the aftermath of the relentless tornado.

Total devastation. One person described it as looking at pictures from WWII after the bombings, and they were correct. The photos are tragic and the death toll is even more horrific. 

But the beatings didn’t stop there.  Monday, Joplin received record rainfall of over 14 inches!  Yes you read correctly ONE-FOUR inches!  Fourteen!  While these wonderful men and women were out searching for people buried in the wreckage, it flipping rained on them ALL DAY LONG.  And not just rain, I am talking torrential downpours complete with thunder and lightning.  Two policemen searching the wreckage were struck by lightning.  Now enter flooding.  Perfect. 

I packed a bag with the essentials: formula, a bottle, some diapers/wipes, nutri-grain bars, bottled water, first aid kit, flash light, extra batteries and some garbage bags for makeshift rain jackets and my wallet.  I slept in tennis shoes and jeans.  Michael’s old crib mattress was in the hall outside the boys’ bathroom to be used to shield us from debris after we found refuge in the bathtub.  (Our house does not have a basement so the bathtub would become our shelter).  I was prepared.  Phone was charged.  Car keys in the bag, just in case we could drive anywhere) 

Tuesday was blue skies, but we all knew more was coming.  The search and rescue teams were racing against the clock to find more trapped victims before the queen bitch herself unleashed round II on us.  It started raining about 9:00 pm on Tuesday night.  9:30 the tornado warnings went out.  The sirens had been damaged in Sunday’s tornado so the people of the town still without power would have no warning.  Fan-fucking-tastic!  We were lucky and had power still.  It was pitch black outside and my heart was racing.  Both boys were sleeping in their beds and Freddy and I avidly watch the weather channel for updates.  You could hear the wind suddenly pick up.   The forecast called for 80 mph winds.  They were correct.  It thundered and lightning lit up the sky.  Thankfully no tornadoes in Joplin tonight.  We went to bed after the radar cleared.  I still slept in jeans and tennis shoes, just in case. 

Wednesday’s forecast: Well what do you know???  TORNADOES!  However I do have to say I think the weather center was being  just a bit overly cautious or the storm system changed.  We luckily only received rain, however the rain does not help with the flooding issue or the fact that pouring gallons of water on top of one’s already destroyed life, does not boast much hope of finding any memories or keepsakes in the rubble. 

DEVASTATING.  That word just does not even cut it.  I started this post on Tuesday night.  I am finishing it on Wednesday night after just having driven through the hospital area.  Michael needed some asthma medicine and Ryan needed formula, so we ventured out for the first time.  It brought tears to my eyes and left my heart heavy and aching for everyone affected.  True destruction.  On a road which I could once only see the buildings that lined the street, I could now see for miles.  Barren, de-barked trees, demolished houses, and tattered vehicles.  Walls still standing in the rubble, and vehicles were marked with a spray-painted “X” to show they had been searched already.  The veterinary clinic had and “X” along with “All Pets OK” spray painted on the once solid brick building.  As we drove past the hospital, the curtains swayed on the outside of the building in the wind. 

I snapped some photos on my cell phone, however with tear-filled eyes I am not sure they will show much.  I can’t even review them yet on my phone.  I looked to my left at Freddy and then turned around to see two beautiful boys playing the back seat and said a prayer to God and to all my Angels in heaven that my family was safe.  THANK YOU GOD!  THANK YOU FOR KEEPING THE LOVES OF MY LIFE SAFE.  I AM NOT SURE WHAT I HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THAT. 

THANK YOU to all who have come down to help.  THANK YOU.  

I will post some pictures and some more thoughts on this again when I can feel my regular heartbeat again.  I will also post some contact organizations and numbers to help.