Stories from Joplin

One of nature’s most devastating disasters—an EF-5 tornado—destroyed nearly 25% of Joplin, a town of about 50,000 in southwestern Missouri. Killing more than 150 people, the tornado was the deadliest to hit the United States in more than 60 years.

Following the disaster, I spent two weeks in Joplin as part of the relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Here, on my personal blog, I have published several stories and observations about what I experienced.

  1. Back from Joplin! Less than 24 hours after returning home, I looked at the kaleidoscope of random memories swirling in my mind and wrote down some of my ideas to help me sort things out.
  2. People Who Inspired Me in Joplin. When I left Joplin, I knew I would never see most of the people again. Yet I knew that they would forever remain a part of me.
  3. Marie – An Inspiring Volunteer and Storm Victim. Marie was a Red Cross volunteer who lived in Joplin before the tornado struck. Even though she lost her apartment and possessions in the tornado, she returned as a Red Cross volunteer so she could help her friends and neighbors.
  4. Nancy – An Inspiring Survivor of the Tornado. Nancy was a widow who lost her house in the storm. The strongest winds of the deadly tornado, however, could never extinguish the flickering flame of faith deep within her.
  5. Alana – An Inspiring Graduate Committed to Service. Alana had just graduated from college. Before beginning her career as a high school English teacher, she traveled half way across the country to help strangers in their time of need.
  6. Helping People Help. Following the tornado, the people of Joplin experienced a “disaster after the disaster”—a tsunami of unsolicited volunteers, clothes, food and other items. This placed an enormous strain on the city’s relief efforts. Helping People Help was written in March following the earthquake in Japan, but its message is probably even more relevant to the circumstances in Joplin.
  7. A Thank You from Joplin. A mother within the Red Cross shelter expressed the appreciation of her family, her friends and her neighbors who lost so much in the tornado.

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