Sunday, June 5, 2011

More Joplin, More Weather

Okay, so who tore the June page off the calendar and landed us smack in the middle of the July weather? We are getting no spring this year. You know, when the days  are warm, bright and slightly breezy,  where you start the day in a sweatshirt and peel it off in the afternoon. The days where mornings leave your toes chilly enough for socks, but the noon time sun slowly warms the nip in your cheeks?

We suffered through an endless winter, deep snow and frigid temps only to move into rain, rain, rain. We waited patiently for spring knowing it would be a just reward for tolerating ugly winter weather. But the reward was twisters, huge hail, straight line winds, then an F5 tornado, and now steamy miserable heat. I don’t know the weather anymore; it is a stranger to me.

You grow up in Tornado Alley and you get used to wind storms. May comes to mean a siren here and there, dark twisters peeking out of clouds like a bed spring, only to disappear again. Sometimes a roof  blows off or a barn gets taken; maybe even a few houses lifted ala Dorothy and Toto. But what happened in Joplin two weeks ago tonight I don’t think of as wind. I think of it as a fire breathing dragon of mythic size whose breath scorched the earth and ate up people’s lives.

Saturday my sister came from Kansas, and we were determined beasts ourselves because we would not be driven inside in the heat. The air conditioning was grinding away, but we refused to fold up onto damask couches or sit on straight backed chairs around the table we had hunkered at all winter. We took pitchers of iced tea and a meal out to the deck where a canopy of leaves and a slight breeze made lingering there bearable. We pretended it was a nice spring day and forced ourselves to practice June among the flowers that were limp in the humidity. The grass was freshly cut and nothing is more grand that deck time so we stayed.

In the afternoon, we all went to Joplin to check out the ravages left behind by the May Beast. Chick Filet gone, doctor’s office gone, church gone, school gone, favorite furniture store gone, only grocery store in the area to carry brocoflower gone, new ice cream store gone, and other things not to mention 8,000 homes! Newscasters, including Brain Williams, had warned people that television and pictures could not hold the horror that seeing it live would. They were right. We felt a sickness creep over us and drill deep into our bones; it was sorrow for others. Maybe it was even some survivor’s guilt because we had not suffered any of this hit. We had been near but spared. The next thought was: when would it be our turn?

DH was astounded by the cars. He had always heard to get out of your car if in a tornado. Now he knew why, as these vehicles had been slammed, banged, ripped and gouged. The houses and homes were not just pushed over or damaged. In the worst blocks, the wood, rafters, and walls had been pulverized like a Tiny Toys crushed by an angry child. My sister moaned when she saw a toy fire engine in tact among the shards. We all silently wondered how deep the hurt went at that bungled home. And the damaged areas went on and on, as far at the eye could see in some places.
William Sloane Coffin said that he “...loved the recklessness of faith. First you jump, then you grown wings.” The people of Joplin didn’t jump, they were pushed, but they are growing wings. Among the piles of twisted rubbish are American flags floating in the now horrible hot air showing their spirit. Some broken walls have psalms or crosses painted on a timber. Already the rebuilding has begun….


Reminder for information and guidelines on the Joplin Relief Writing OP visit Storm Country at




Susan said...

Oh, Claudia, such sorrow. Your write-up and photos of the tornado damage in Joplin go straight to the heart. Oh Lord, have mercy on those people who lost everything. Thanks for posting. Susan

irishoma said...

Unbelievable. It's hard to believe the damage a storm can do.
Donna V.

BECKY said...

Claudia, you described it so well, and wrote so beautifully, as always. It truly IS unbelievable. The first thing I noticed when I saw the pictures on TV, were the completely stripped trees....leaves, branches, and even the bark ripped right off. I can't even imagine...

Lynn said...

I wanted to say nice post except it's not nice what happened, but you did write this so well. I'm still sending love to Joplin.

Betty Craker Henderson said...

Wonderful writing, Claudia, good description. I'm such a coward, I'm just avoiding going over in that direction. I'm like the ostrich I guess, keeping my head in the sand and pretending 45 miles is a country away . . . right!