Last night the last Extreme Home Makeover aired. Maybe that’s no biggie to you…..the last of a reality show forever. I have watched them through the years. They’ve helped a lot of folks and communities and I think they’ve been taken a couple of times, from what I’ve read. But last night, they showed how they built seven homes for families in Joplin, America. These people had lost everything, sadly, even children. Extreme Home Makeover was not just building houses, they were rebuilding lives, faith and giving hope to a hopeless situation. A town I lived in for about eight years. A town that will never be the same in so many ways. My eyes and heart were glued to this finale.
I couldn’t watch last night without reflecting on that Sunday on May 22, when this storm hit. Our town of Owasso is just a couple of hours away from Joplin, but the storm didn’t threaten us. With a big storm, you usually have a couple of days warning to be head’s up. We had the television on and CNN said Joplin had been hit. Being from Oklahoma and being so used to tornadoes, a “hit” can mean a barn or an outbuilding, it’s not usually so bad. But then they showed the before and after air shots of that area in Joplin, that is when we sat in absolute disbelief and tears. Everything was gone. How could this be? Then we both kinda snapped out of it, and started making phone calls, checking on friends and family. Our youngest son and his wife had just moved from there a month prior. Our eldest son and his wife lived just a few miles from Joplin, and had family there. When tragedy strikes, you just have to know where your loved ones are! It wasn’t too long and phones calls to the “417” area wouldn’t work. My husband still had a 417 cell phone number as did all of our kids. We spent the next ten days or so texting & facebooking until temporary cell phone towers could be placed. We wanted to help do something, yet we felt so helpless.
We watched every moment of news coverage for days after that. We connected with friends there through facebook and determined their immediate needs. We were able to pull a few things together for them, with the help of friends & family, and our kids delivered the items. They didn’t ask for much, Rubbermaid totes (for salvaged items), water, snacks, gloves, tape, markers. Driving on I-44 through Joplin that first Saturday after, you could see crumbled disarray everywhere. On Rangeline Road, if it wasn’t gone, it was broken. There were MASH like tents set up and everywhere you looked, people were offering food, clothing, water and more with big signs that said “FREE”. Joplin had pulled together. Neighboring towns and states were jumping in….giving Joplin people help and hope.
The media is gone now. They got their stories for the time being. The thieves jumped in and took what they wanted until they got caught. Fake contractors came in and took people’s insurance money. Devastation brings out the not the bad in people, but the BAD people. But it also brought out many GOOD people. People that are STILL volunteering and helping. The churches took on roles they never thought they would be playing. They turned into shelters, help and supply stations.
In August we stopped at HUNAN’s on Main Street in Joplin to eat. A couple of years ago this place had a burned to the ground. This was our first time in their new building. The Pizza Hut next door was gone, the gas station up the block, gone. The audio store next door was leveled….but showed their sense of humor by having a sign out that said “WE’VE MOVED”. I will never understand how Hunan’s was not leveled also…..
SO…..back to Extreme Home Makeover last night….yep, it was a pretty good show.