Last Sunday, after what I thought had been a long day, I returned home from taking a walk with a friend to hear that a tornado had struck somewhere in Missouri.
This was concerning as I have family & friends in Missouri. I asked Cameron, which town(s) had been hit. When he said, Joplin, Missouri I was stunned into silence.
Joplin is less than 30 miles from Columbus, Kansas, the town that was my home from the age of 5 to 17. Since my town was very small, we would go to Joplin often, whenever we wanted to see a movie or hang out at the mall.
While my family moved away from the area over 20 years ago, through Facebook, I stay in touch with several friends from the area.
From a distance, I am sure it is impossible for us to comprehend what they have been dealing with but I thought I'd share some of what I've learned, some of what has made this disaster personal.
Thankfully, the people I know best seem to have been spared; however, many of them know people who have been personally devastated.
My friends experienced scary storms, during at least one, they were pounded by baseball-sized hail. After the tornado hit Joplin, several of my friends were incredibly worried about their loved ones who were in harm's way then out-of-touch &/or missing for a time.
Many of the people I care about have people close to them whose homes were destroyed. My friend, Susan's sister's family's home is gone. The father of our high school class president was also destroyed. Meredith's friend lost her home. My friend, Laura's friend's mom lost her house.
My friend, Heather said her brother-in-law's house & the high school she attended have been destroyed. My friend, Chris saw the neighborhood where his grandparents used to live destroyed. (Last I knew, they hadn't heard from the neighbors.)
My friend, Holly's sister's family's house was damaged but is still standing. Romel stood in line to get a permit to fix the damage to his property. My friend, Michelle thought her husband had lost his job when one semi truck was thrown onto the truck he normally drives. (Thankfully, the company has been able to operate out of a different location.)
As devastating as this loss of property has been, the people I know were all relieved to hear their loved ones had survived. Others were not so fortunate.
Some people I know know people who have lost loved ones. My friend, Lori's son's teacher's father was killed. My friend, Stephanie's friend's 16-year-old stepdaughter died during the storm. I can't imagine the heartbreak they must be feeling.
I think I read this was the deadliest tornado in more than 50 years. I know I read about people at the local hospital whose IVs were torn from their arms during the storm & about how people in St. John's hospital’s emergency room, waiting for treatment, were pulled through hospital windows. Unimaginable.
However, there is light in the darkness. I'm incredibly proud of my friends who have been working hard to make things better. My friend, Susan, a nurse who works at Mercy hospital in Joplin (but who was not working at the time) has been providing medical care & treatment to patients in the basement of Memorial Hall (a place I used to go to to see concerts) which has been turned into a remote medical triage center.
My friend, Aron, who is home on leave from active military service, helped distribute truckloads full of water. My friend, Derek, a former Cherokee County sheriff pulled out his old uniform to assist with the rescues. My friend, Jason returned to service with the Joplin Fire Department's Search & Rescue Team.
My friend, Hilary has been trying to find a place for her mom to continue getting her dialysis treatments. My friend, Hollie who was recently elected to the Columbus City Council has been monitoring subsequent storms & responding to the understandably jittery reactions.
I'm not sure what I can do from here other than let them know I care & make a donation to the American Red Cross to support the efforts of those on the ground in Joplin. I can share the stories I've heard and ask you to please join me in offering support, relief & care to those who have been hit so hard & in offering thanks to those who are there making a difference.
Feel free to share these stories with others you think would want to help too (http://marymaddux.blogspot.com/2011/05/this-ones-personal.html). Thanks so much.