Sunday I was traveling to southern Missouri near Table Rock Lake. As I was packing up the Honda, Vince asked me why I was driving it instead of the Toyota and I told him the weather might get bad and if I was going to get hail damage, I’d rather it be to the Honda than the Toyota. Vince came inside and checked the weather and wanted me to cancel my trip. We discussed it and I told him that if I canceled my plans every time severe weather was predicted, I’d never leave home. He suggested I go early and get all settled in before the bad weather arrived.
I passed through Joplin about 2 p.m. and arrived at my destination – a cabin right on Table Rock Lake.
The view from my cabin porch was incredible.
When the resort manager took me to my cabin, though we had yet to have any bad weather, I asked her where we go if there’s a tornado and she kinda laughed and said “I guess in the shower”. The shower was a stand up shower so I knew that wasn’t going to be a safe spot. I asked if we could hear tornado sirens and she said no. Once I got everything in the cabin, a quick check around the grounds revealed that I didn’t have a lot of safe options as far as a tornado shelter.
Some of the ladies from the quilt guild picked me up for dinner and on the way back to the cabin, the radio was on and I hear that St. John’s Hospital in Joplin had been hit by a tornado. Turned out it had happened about a half hour previous and the worst of the storm was passing right over where we were located. I ran into my cabin and watched the trees bend and sway, while hail was pounding the roof. By this time, my cell phone was getting no signal at all and the cabin had no phone. There was a small TV in the cabin but I couldn’t even read the towns on The Weather Channel and the little towns they were mentioning, I had no idea how close or how far they were from me.
About 8:30 p.m., the resort manager came banging on my door and said “We’re going down the road where there’s a safe room! Don’t even lock the door . . LET’S GO!” So we went! We stayed there til we felt it was safe to leave. They dropped me off at my cabin and they went on to their home which was a couple of cabins down from where I was staying.
The weather got better and then worse and it was 3 a.m. before the weather calmed down enough that I could sleep. The thunder was shaking the cabin. The hail was pounding the roof and windows. I’m a chicken anyway but I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my whole life. The total lack of communication, not really knowing my exact location in relation to the continuous warnings . . it’s not a night I ever want to experience again.
For those not familiar with Joplin, like so much of rural America, it’s a hub city for so many communities, including our own. It’s where we go for medical care. Chad has an appointment Thursday with an ENT in Joplin and the doctor’s office is in the area hardest hit and I’m fairly sure his office is gone. Even if it isn’t, I doubt they’ll be seeing patients on Thursday. My dermatologist is right there too. The grocery store I visit when I need lots of stuff is Dillon’s on 20th Street in Joplin. It’s gone. We go to Home Depot in Joplin. It’s gone. We love Academy — well, Vince and Chad love it more than I do . . it’s gone. Hobby Lobby is near Wal-Mart and they’re showing Wal-Mart which is totally destroyed but I haven’t heard about Hobby Lobby.
Cars, SUVs and 18 wheelers were turned over along I-44. Can you imagine driving down the interstate and encountering this type storm? What do you do? Where do you go?
The storms were awful tonight. As I was driving through the Joplin area, the lightning was scaring me half to death. Once I got home, we’ve continued to hear about storms impacting the already damaged area. They’re saying tomorrow is going to be horrible.
We know Joplin pretty well and as we look at the news coverage, we have a hard time discerning some of the streets and buildings. We stare at the photos of damaged businesses and try to figure out what they were. More times than not, we cannot figure out what they were. The damage is truly unbelievable.
The mayor of Joplin was just on TV speaking of the resiliency of the residents. He said “An F4 tornado is not going to kick our ass.” That’s true. As with any disaster, Joplin will recover. Those of us who experienced the storm of yesterday will never forget. What I saw and felt was nothing compared to what those right in Joplin experienced — not only the fear of the immediate storm but the loss of friends and family and property.
It’s another lesson — another reminder to live life to the fullest because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.