Joplin, Missouri ~ One Year Later

While we were in Joplin, Missouri on Saturday, we made a stop at the Boot Outlet Store.  Chi worked here while he was in undergraduate school and I love getting boots at a great price! As Angie (my daughter-in-law) and I were trying on boots, we had a heart felt visit with one of the employees.   We were discussing what a crazy windy day it was, and in Joplin, the subject of “the tornado” always comes into the conversation.  So I asked her, “Where were you during the storm?”  She explained that she was shopping at Wal-mart.  My head thought “WHOA ~ that was the one of the hardest hit places.” I had to know more, and so she shared the following story.  (paraphrased) ” The announcement came over the load speaker that customers should go to the back of the store near the lay away area.  Only I and another lady went there.  In a few minutes, another announcement said that this was an extremely serious and dangerous situation and that everyone needed to get to this area now.  More people joined then and we hunkered down.  We could hear the roof making loud awful noises and going up and down.  I knew that at anytime, it would collapse and I would die here, with a broken neck.  All I could do was pray hard for the safety of my family and those around us.  Nothing else mattered at that moment. Finally the roof did come down and those a few yards in front of us that had not yet made it to the back, were trapped.  Somehow, many of us were still alive.  It took about thirty minutes for a path to be cleared so that we could crawl out.  We were covered in a thick sand residue.  When we made it outside, and I looked to the east of the store, that’s when my heart dropped. Everything around me was gone.  But,when I looked to the east where I knew my teenage son was at his dad’s house, it was flattened as far as I could see.  I knew he was dead. My car was gone.  I was able to get a ride from another to drive as far as the debris would allow to look for him.  I kept trying to call my son’s cell phone, but no answer.  I then walked, trying to find the house.  I kept trying to call him on his cell phone.  Finally, I heard, “Hello, Mom?”  And then I lost him.  But at least I knew he was alive. It was a miracle.  His dad’s house was gone, but he and several others, were able to crawl out the pile that used to be a house.  My son sat holding an elderly neighbor lady that had taken cover with them.  She had a head injury and they were both covered in blood.  But he did not leave her until help arrived. I don’t have nightmares any longer.  My son still does.  I am just so grateful to be alive.  I know it is an absolute miracle that none of my family was killed.”

I continued to think about her words and try to put myself in her place. EVERYONE in that town or associated in any way with Joplin, was effected.  The physical rebuilding is going strong, but what about the mental and emotional recovery?  How on earth do the Joplin residents go from day-to-day and not be taken back to that horrific day? There is no escaping the reminders.  They are at every turn.  The following pics give you an example:As you enter Joplin on I-44 East, this is the new building site of St. John’s Hospital.On 20th Street ~ This is where the Catholic Church and school used to be.  I love that the cross is still standing.As I was snapping a pic of the above “colorful” tree, in the distant field of what used to be houses, this park bench caught my eye.  From what I read, friends of sixteen year old, Lantz Hare, constructed this memorial in his honor. This hallowed ground is where he was found, after much searching last year.  Lantz should have graduated last night.  Lantz Hare is still remembered, missed, and loved by all that ever knew him. ♥ This pile of rubble is what used to be the Joplin High School. They say that in about two years, it will be rebuilt.  For now, the kids are having school at North Park Mall.Encouraging messages and memorials are found in many places around town.Joplin’s Home Depot was destroyed on May 22.  The building has been reconstructed and this memorial placed at the entrance.This is one of the many neighborhoods destroyed near the hospital.  This house belongs to friends of ours and they should be in it this summer!Mural on Main Street ~

Each time we go to Joplin now, I am amazed at the progress they are making, but I also leave with a sadness in my soul.  Sad for all that they have been through, for the many losses, for the lives and things that will never be the same.  Joplin~ on your one year anniversary of this devastation, may you always remember, but may the pain lessen, and may you continue to grow stronger and better, day by day. May the Lord truly bless and keep each of you. ♥

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12 Responses to Joplin, Missouri ~ One Year Later

  1. Jeannette Wynne says:

    It’s good to see and hear the signs of HOPE:) Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thanks, Paula, for your very sensitive memorial, and photos of Joplin. You brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Oh, Paula, this was a real eye-opener. Thank you for sharing these very powerful stories and photos.

  4. thanks for sharing the pictures.

  5. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    Wow. That is one powerful story. People are so brave and strong. What a terrible ordeal that the Joplinites arent letting get them. They are truly in the home of the brave.

    By the way, thanks for being such a great supporter of my blog. I really appreciate it. Thanks, too, for all your comments about the particular airports. It’s greatly appreciated!! 🙂

    • Everyone in Joplin has a story. There is much sadness, but it is exciting to see the progress, too.

      As for your blog….LOVE IT! (But I think each airline needs a doc/pharmacy for folks like me who fear flying. Or maybe that’s what the Airport lounge is for? 😉 )

  6. My brother and sister in law lost loved ones last year .. but they also have loved ones that made it through and I know they spent this week there celebrating with them.. Amazing what the human spirit can take and still stand and not only stand but go on to thrive!!

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