Went with a group from our church to do disaster relief in Joplin today. The scene is unbelievable. Unbelievable. Photos do not do it justice. Looks like Nagasaki and Hiroshima following the atomic bombs. Or the old photos of World War I forests decimated by artillery fire – same thing in Joplin except with toothpicks (lumber) scattered around the bases of the stripped trees.
Looking onto a valley and a hillside: destruction as far as the eye can see.
A Burger King leveled except for the playground in the front which was still standing.
The landscape flattened except for a few stripped trees and utility bucket cranes attempting to put power lines back together.
Demolished shopping centers. How many survivors now without work at this intersection? Hundreds? A thousand?
The sheer length of the path of total destruction – miles and miles.
Helping a family move out of their condemned house. On their block was typical tornado damage: torn roofs, broken windows, downed trees. But stand in the street and look two blocks away: a sea of lumber and a few naked trees, the Nagasaki and Hiroshima of Joplin. I’ve seen tornado havoc but nothing like this.
We’re stopped in traffic and I gaze at a pile of debris by the roadside. I spot what looks like a commercial grade sink in the mess. And a large roof fan. And classic old wooden white chairs mixed in the rubble. Was this a restaurant? Somebody’s nice old time family-style restaurant?
A boarded up house has “Thanks 4 the help” spray painted on one of the sheets of plywood. And it flies an American flag. Another pile of rubble has a Texas flag draped on it.
Food, supplies pouring in from everywhere. Calvary Baptist Church, our base of operations, hosted a Tyson’s semi truck which unloaded chicken to be grilled in the church parking lot then distributed throughout the community.
Lots of volunteers, many from Northwest Arkansas. Lots of college-age and high school age people pitching in.
My wife, a nurse, talked with another local nurse or two: horrifying stories of how the tornado sucked nurses and patients out of St. Johns Hospital. Local radio station running ongoing coverage: people calling in looking for missing loved ones.
A big need for Joplin: cash.