Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin, Missouri

The predicted Rapture did not occur at 6:00 Saturday night, but almost exactly twenty four hours later the end of the world came for people in Joplin, Missouri when a suspected F-4 tornado wiped out life as they knew it.

We had not had the television on all day, but we knew the air felt as thick as a piece of Wonder bread caught in the back of the throat. DH had been painting on the house before the coming rain, and after a lunch on the deck, I switched on the television to hear tornado watches for the entire area and coming our way. So we jumped up to put things away for the night. I went to return a bag of DVDs to the rental store a few blocks away.

By habit I turned on the radio only to hear an updated announcement that the watch was now a warning. In the few minutes I made the drop off at the video store, the air tightened and so did my chest. DH was outside when I pulled back into the drive; he had no idea that tennis ball sized hail and funnels were headed our way. We ratcheted up our movements a gear and took down hanging flower pots, put away ladders, moved vehicles inside without any dallying, finishing as the first rain drops fell.

Shortly sirens blasted and a tornado was on the ground that about 15 miles west of us and just that fast moved into Joplin. I gathered blankets and flashlights as we followed the storm on radar. About a quarter of mile wide, the monster was already tearing up western side of Joplin, stomping down 20th street, and veering slightly south. We did not know how bad things were there as it began to hail and the sky was yellow. Oddly our own wind was lesser than expected.

We were still trying to learn info and after more sirens here when our Kentucky son called to see if we were okay. The amazing feat of technology allowed him to see on the weather channel what we were not seeing, that Joplin was flattened, our stomping grounds a mere nine or ten miles away from our back door. The phone continued to ring as people far away called for assurance we were still here.

We were, but we were drained. Having lived through this kind of weather for years, one becomes lax in winding up to storm watches. We prepare, watch, and it blows over. Only once have I been under our house in 35 years, but we have been at the door ready many times. Last night when we went to bed, I could not rest. I heard helicopters all night long and with each turn of the whirly blades, I was torn between feeling anguish for a soul or relief there was someone getting help.

It is incomprehensible the amount of damage and how fast it occurred. Once again life shows us that things can turn in a flash, evaporate before our eyes. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, a tornado shows humans that in the end they are NOT in control here.

This morning the local channel reports the death toll at 89 so far.

It also warns of hail and rain for today and more severe storms forming by this afternoon.


BECKY said...

Hi Claudia, as you know I immediately thought of you..knowing you lived near Joplin. I still can't believe the destruction from that tornado. You are right about never knowing what will happe in our lives. Something I heard on the Weather Channel last night really amazed me. The man who was in Joplin, explaining and showing the devastation, said he'd just been storm-chasing in Kansas, not far from Joplin, and the tornado didn't look like much of anything....And it kind of appeared out of nowhere. I'm sure that's why there wasn't much notice for the people in Joplin. Very sad and frightening. I'm so glad you and DH are okay.

Ames said...

Oh Claudia I am feeling your anguish and I am unsettled with all this horrible weather we are having everywhere. So glad to hear that you were not touched by the storm. I know it has left you feeling great sorrow and anxiety. I am sad to hear of that so many lives were lost, an entire town ripped apart. Do what you can to help those in need and to feel at peace. Sending healing thoughts and prayers for you and all the people affected by these storms. Blessings and Hugs!~Ames