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Joplin Missouri

An Update on Joplin, Missouri

On May 23rd Joplin was devastated by a tornado. Most of us saw pictures and read reports of how tragic the damage was. Weeks later I can’t get them out of my mind. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh, I’m going to yoga or work or for a hike or whatever I am doing.” And then I stop and think, “What are the people in Joplin doing? Are they trying to find their belongings still? Are they grieving for someone they lost? Do they have hope?”

I find it so easy to have compassion for any kind of devastation or disaster until I continue on in my life and “move on.” But what about those who stay in that place of sorrow? What about those who are trying to cope day to day while I go on living my life as if nothing is different?

I decided that it doesn’t do the people and town of Joplin any good for me to sit around and be sad for them. Instead, they need me to reach out, to write about them, to keep them in the minds of others…because if I were in their shoes I’d want to know someone was doing that.

Leanne Record was born and raised In Joplin. She moved in 2001 and now works in my husband’s law office. She is doing all that she can to help her family and friends who are still there. I asked her some questions and found a way to help and want to pass it on to you. I hope you will find it in your heart to give but also to pray and send out your hearts to the people who are trying to rebuild their lives there.

Here are the questions I asked Leanne and her answers:

What was the most surprising thing you’ve heard about the damage from the tornado?

–that my grandparents’ old house (currently my sister and family’s) was leveled while my sister et al. were in it.  It’s hard seeing a major part of my childhood destroyed. (link to photo of my sister in the kitchen with no roof -http://www.komonews.com/news/national/122539469.html?tab=gallery#img58) There are countless other surprising events: my high school was destroyed, Dude’s Donuts (an amazing local donut shop with a quirky owner and a weekend ritual growing up) is gone, St. John’s hospital (a prior employer and major landmark in Joplin) gone, a portion of Rangeline (one of the busiest streets in the country) gone, the comparisons of old neighborhoods, then and now (link attached – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1390530/Joplin-MO-tornado-Before-photos-complete-devastation.html), hearing that you can stand in the once Home Depot parking lot and see St. John’s (miles apart from one another!) due to downed trees and standing on Main Street, not knowing where you are because there’s nothing there.

How are people holding up? Are they getting plenty of help?

–I think the devastation is heart-wrenching to an unfathomable degree but the outpouring of love and support from the community and people outside the community is helping to mend the broken hearts.

Did all of your family make it out okay? Did you know anyone who did die

–Everyone I’m closest to in Joplin weathered the storm, most of their homes were untouched.  My sister is the only one closest to me that lost everything (except their lives which they are truly grateful they’re still breathing, as am I).  Everyone knows someone that did not fare so well…

Is there an estimation of how long it will take to get things somewhat back to normal? What will the schools do?

–They’re saying years, but I’ve heard the schools anticipate starting on schedule this Fall.  I’ve heard estimates of $100M in damages in the school system alone.  I think a silver lining of sorts is that jobs will be created to help rebuild.  I have a friend with a family construction company and they’re already inundated with projects and are commencing right away.

What can people do that have no way to get supplies there? Is there a way to give you think is best?

— I understand a great way to donate is through Heart of Missouri United Way.  100% of all proceeds will be donated directly to Joplin. To make a donation by phone, it’s 573-443-4523 or their website www.uwheartmo.org and of course there’s also www.redcross.org/safeandwell and www.stl.unitedway.org/getinvolved.

Are the people there seeing the Red Cross, etc helping?

–from what I hear, yes, the Red Cross is there and has been helpful.

Are there any special stories of hope you know of?

–I’ve heard countless…  I’ve heard of animals being rescued and reconnected with their humans, I’ve heard of people being found alive, days later, in the rubble, I’ve heard of families reconnecting with their elderly relatives who were taken to various hospitals, same with young children being separated from their families and reconnected.  There’s one story I heard about a young boy who was picked up by the funnel and spat out near Duquesne (end of the tornado’s path), untouched and claiming he was flying with the angels and a white puppy.  That one really gets me!

Leanne is leaving tomorrow with the first truck load of supplies from Aspen, Colorado. Many of us contributed to those supplies. More will go later. Friends of mine took this opportunity to clean out their closets for clothes, or raced to the grocery to buy water and food that were needed. When we give from the heart, something in us ignites.

None of us can imagine what the people of Joplin are going through. Let’s not move on with our lives and just forget them. Find a way to give or reach out in any way you can.

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