At first I was going to make this post about more of the devastation around Joplin. After driving through what I would refer to as “ground zero”, I feel that unless you actually see it for yourself, in person, no photo will ever show you the true devastation. Imagine driving down a main road in your city that you have driven down umpteen times before, now imagine it flattened into piles of twisted metal, wood and stone. Most almost unrecognizable.
So I thought I could focus this entry on the GOOD things going on around Joplin. The things that bring that warm fuzzy feeling back. The things that make you proud to live in a wonderful country!
Five days after the tornado hit, the total number of volunteers registered at MSSU 7,546, total number of volunteers registered via the phone 12,000, total number of calls to Wellness Call 6,137, and 750 people deployed to work per day with the recovery. I saw police, fire and rescue EMT workers from every state bordering Missouri. Friends of mine in the medical field came down to offer their help along with many, many of their colleagues. I have heard reports of Home Depot and Wal-Mart rushing to the aid of all their employees. Helping with temporary housing, furniture, linens and more!!
Besides the organized disaster relief organizations, there is also neighbor helping neighbor down here. A friend from college happens to work at Empire Electric, as an electrical engineer, down here in Joplin. Last week he clocked 117 hours, according to his wife, helping restore power to the city. He is salary so essentially 77 of those hours are volunteer. His wife then showed a picture of a gentleman mowing her lawn. A family had volunteered to mow all the Empire Electric employees’ lawns since they were clocking so many hours, for the memorial weekend!
Flags are flown proudly amidst the rubble. They quietly state, “We will rebuild and stay strong” as they flap in the wind. A local car shop was changing tires for free as nails and whatever else reeked havoc on tires. A shop is offering free chainsaw sharpening. Towing companies are towing crumpled heaps of what used to be vehicles for free. Volunteers from all over the country…yes country are coming here not only to help those directly affected by the tornado but to also help feed the volunteers. Hotels are allowing volunteers to stay for free. Restaurants are offering free coffee, meals, snacks to victims and volunteers. Groups are setting up tents in parking lots to feed the extra utility crews here as well as police and fire personnel. Churches are serving as shelters. Lawyers are banning together to offer free legal advice to victims in respect to insurance claims and lost property. Areas are set up for teen victims to hang out and get their mind off of the destruction. Local area pet kennels and Humane Society are looking after misplaced animals. People are not only donating money, food and clothing but more importantly…their time. Cooking meals, comforting the elderly, reading to children, helping clear fallen trees, boarding up houses, covering roofs with tarps. Joplin doesn’t feel alone and is definitely thankful for all help the town is receiving. The City of Joplin facebook page thanks volunteers at least 2 times a day! It is heartfelt!
A man’s whose home is one of the few left standing on Murphy street (a very hard hit area) has transformed what is still standing into a make-shift mission to help out his fellow neighbors. Amazing!
Despite the horrid appearance of things down here, the morale is high. The focus down here is on the future and how this town will recover and rebuild. Not of defeat. Not of self-pitiness. Not of helplessness. This town is high on hope and positive thoughts and that is MAJORLY due to the overwhelming flood of support and help that was shown by our fellow neighboring towns and states.
Joplin still needs your help!
- Visit United Way 2-1-1 to sign up to Volunteer
- Visit Rebuild Joplin. You can donate money, time or resources.
There are many ways to help but if you donate money, please research the organization first to make sure they are reputable.