Before you look any farther, I’ll tell you . . these pictures are depressing! And they’re not great . . they were taken through my car windows. We didn’t get out and walk around. I saw no need to get in the way of the workers so we did what we came to do — ate sushi, passed out quilts, Chad saw the doctor — and we left.
I’ve seen my share of damage from hurricanes in Louisiana, Texas and Florida and when we lived in Kentucky, there were a couple of F3 tornadoes in our town and in the Newburgh, Indiana area. Even after seeing pictures of Joplin in the news and on the internet, in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined what it looked like in real life. The damage is massive! It goes for miles and miles. Seeing the complete destruction and thinking of those folks who emerged from wherever they managed to survive, and seeing the total devastation around them, and having no cars and no roads that were clear, no cell phones, no electricity, not having a clue which way to start walking with nightfall approaching, I absolutely cannot even comprehend what it must have been like. Even trying to be as optimistic as I possibly can, I cannot imagine how they are going to clean up and rebuild Joplin. They’re saying they will and I hope they do but it’s going to be a massive undertaking.
As I began to look for people who may have lost everything, this is what I was finding. There’s just nothing left so the people aren’t there.
In the photo below, St. John’s Hospital can be seen in the background.
You have to wonder where these people went to ride out the storm.
There were vehicles like this all over Joplin. I wondered if the storm deposited them in their current locations, if the drivers were trying to get out of the storm and were blown off the road . . was the red pickup driving down this road and just blown off the road or did it come from two streets over . . who knows? There are so many destroyed vehicles sitting everywhere.
Seeing St. John’s Hospital and thinking of the patients who were there because they were sick or hurting, and their families not being able to find out what happened to them when the storm hit . . I cannot comprehend it all. Up close, there were mini-blinds flapping in the breeze through some of the broken windows. The hospital is now all fenced off with guards manning the gates and they’re probably getting ready to start the demolition and then rebuild. What a huge job and the city so much needs that hospital back up and running.
Below is the strip mall where JoAnn’s Fabrics was located. From the back, it looks way worse than from the front. It’s amazing that people were in JoAnn’s and I believe they all survived.
Macadoodles was a huge liquor store/gas station. They had the biggest selection and a wine tasting room .. the workers there were so nice. Now, there’s the back wall standing. It’s been cleaned up but you can see the gas pumps are gone, the entire store is gone except that back wall.
We spent way too much time at Academy on our trips to Joplin. Vince and Chad both loved that store.
In some areas, all you can see is destruction and devastation for as far as you can see. For what seems like miles and miles, home after home . . destroyed. And look at the trees! Will Joplin ever have trees again?
There are good things happening in Joplin. From what I hear, looting and mischief has been minimal. There are so many relief organizations and volunteers there. In fact, there’s a big blinking sign at the exit to the MSSU campus that says “Volunteers Exit Here and go to the MSSU campus!” There were huge trucks/vans there from Samaritan’s Purse, Convoy of Hope, Red Cross and probably others that I didn’t happen to run across. So many insurance companies have mobile offices set up and there were tons of insurance adjuster vehicles around town. The help that’s already arrived in Joplin, and that continues to come there is truly amazing but the job is so huge!
They have trash trucks that kinda look like huge, long dumpsters and there are two attached to each cab. They were everywhere! The landfill is about 35 miles north of Joplin and there was a steady stream of those trucks loaded to the top, headed to the landfill and the empty trucks were headed back to Joplin. They’re working hard but there’s so much to do! It’s now been a bit over three weeks since the tornado hit and it took a few days to get their plan into action. The city leaders, as well as the state leaders and the President, have been optimistic but I’ll be darned surprised if it isn’t years and years and years before Joplin is back to any resemblance of it’s former status.
Please continue to pray for the people in Joplin. From my point of view, it was hard to find much hope and optimism there and I can’t imagine what it’s like for those who have faced this every day for over three weeks now.