Monday, June 6, 2011

Joplin, Missouri

As I was coming home yesterday from visiting my family in Branson, MO, I was trying to decide if I should take a drive through Joplin to see the tornado damage from exactly two weeks ago.  I was by myself and very curious to see if my favorite antique shop survived but I knew I wouldn't be able to handle what I was about to see.

I have no family and no close friends that live in Joplin, just acquaintances.  Since living in Oklahoma the past 15 years, I have made many, many stops in Joplin on the way to Ozark, MO to visit my family.  Joplin is the half-way mark between my parents home and my home; where I sometimes meet my parents to drop my kids off in their care or pick up my kids, or we will stop there to stretch our legs and get a snack.  I meet family and friends from my old home town to shop and eat.  

For the past two weeks I have seen numerous photos and news accounts from this devastation and heard numerous stories from family and friends that have been to Joplin the past two weeks to help out.  Everyone that has been says you can't prepare yourself enough for what you are about to see.  You can't even get a picture that shows what this devastation is all about.  You can't grasp it until you experience it.  Truth!

I'm at mile marker 15, the main Joplin exit is mile marker 8.  I start crying... wanting desperately to see the damage but wanting not to see it because I am and always have been an emotional girl.  On the outskirts of Joplin, you see a touch of where the tornado came across the interstate.  Although it destroyed a home & many trees and damaged a few around it... it still doesn't even prepare you for what you are about to see.

I drive up that exit ramp praying, crying, breathing deeply.  I look around and I'm relieved to see so many recognizable places.  I make the right turn off of Range Line Road and travel down to my antique shop "Antique Gallery".  I breath a sigh of relief as I see the little white building peeking out of the hill only to pull in and see a closing down sign.  I wonder why?  Did he lose his home?  His family?  Was he one of the 141 confirmed dead so far?

I get back on Range Line Road and travel further down the road.  I can't stop the tears from flowing.  I don't even know which fast food restaurant this is from... there is nothing left to identify it.

These pictures look small.  Please take the time to click on them, pull them up to get a better look at the destruction and pray for these people and the workers that are trying to restore this town.  

The Hobby Lobby store that I helped get ready to open many years ago was still standing.  Then I drove down a side street and another and came across this picture that was so eerie to me.  The playground was still standing but the subdivision it belonged to was completely destroyed with not a thing left standing.

This is the subdivision that the playground belonged to

Two weeks after the tornado struck, you can see where much work has been done already.  The streets are cleared and the piles are being made.  I just stood in awe in the middle of the street.  Every direction you look, there is piles of rubble that used to be a home.

Major clean-up started immediately after the shock of the tornado wore off and people realized there was much work to be done.

I can't even emphasize enough the feeling of eeriness this was for me.  I traveled through at 8:00 pm on Sunday evening after all the workers were gone for the day.  No one was out sifting through the remains of their home, it had already been done.  There were a few drifters like me out assessing and taking pictures.  The loneliness just consumed me and I couldn't quit sobbing.  I imagine this is what a ghost town must be like.  Or maybe even the rapture when Christ returns?

Amazing how the stop signs are still standing in all of the pictures that I took.  What normally seems so nondescript, now stands tall amongst the piles of wreckage all around it.

Yes, Thank You America!

Although I could not stop crying throughout this journey, it was somewhat comforting to see signs like this and the ones that said "God Bless You", "God Bless Joplin". The American flags amongst the ruins were a welcoming sight as well.

How can there not be more than 141 deaths in this catastrophe?

After driving down street after street you realize they are all the same.

Eeriness... you can see the dishtowel still hanging on the rod under the sink.

Eeriness... you can see a box fan dangling by its cord hanging off the side from what was at one time the second floor.  Also hanging off the side is bedsheets and clothes.

I stuck my camera out the window and took this picture as I was driving down the road.  It was the weirdest feeling to be surrounded by so much devastation for miles.  Oddly enough, the water tower still stands although their water was not safe to use for the first week.

Ironic... Yes, Alabama knows, don't they Cora?

I saw this as I was slowly driving down the street.  I had to turn around and go back by it again for it immediately caught my eye.  It was on the main street so I couldn't stop and take a picture.  Although it is blurry, it was a drive by shooting and I didn't think it would turn out but I'm glad it did.  In the pink and purple bedroom of a little girl, there is a little pink dress and a little purple dress still hanging in the closet.  So very eerie to me...

There is hope.  They will survive.  They will rebuild.

Please pray for them.

I had sensory overload in this short hour which seemed like it lasted for weeks.

  • the smell... rot, decay, death
  • the sound... deathly quiet
  • the touch... of my broken heart for these poor people
  • the sight... of nothing like I've ever seen in my entire life
The only word I can describe this experience with is Eerie.  To see so many things that I use every day in my home that I don't think a second thought to and seeing these same things laying around in the rubble of what used to be another's home... really brought this tornado destruction to light for me.  Now it's not just pictures I see or  stories I hear... it is another person, like me that is now without a home, their belongings, their family heirlooms, their memories in pictures or photo albums, or worst yet possibly without their loved ones.

I cried the rest of the hour and half drive I had left.  I prayed for these people.  I prayed for the workers as the past week and week ahead have been 90+ temps that they have been and will be working in.  I thanked God for my family and my friends.  I praised Him for all that He is and He has blessed me with.

My family will be heading that way sometime to help.  I'm not sure how soon I can go back but I know that I must.  As heart wrenching as this situation was for me, I am so very grateful that God allowed me to experience it.  I was fully reminded that God's grace is receiving what we do not deserve and His mercy is not receiving what we do deserve.


LibbiesHome said...

Words fail. You summed it up best at the end, Angie. I have family in Missouri, but not Joplin. But for the grace of God...
Thank you for sharing.

TheRustyThimble said...

OH Angie I all too well know that feeling, When the may 3rd tornado went through central Oklahoma about 10 years ago. It affected many friends and many family members of mine. When I drove through what used to be home it was so hard, so sad, and so unbelievable. Still sending up prayers for all that have gone through such unreal weather this year and have lost so much and for those that have lost loved ones.

Prim n Raggedy said...

So sad Angie :0( We saw the pictures and heard on the news over here about Joplin...but I wasn't really aware of the scale of the tragedy until I saw your photos.....I understand why you cried....
Carole x

Sheila said...

I continue to pray daily for the people of Joplin and all across this country that are suffering from loss of life and their homes,etc. Whether it be from tornado, flooding or fire it has been overwhelming for me and I haven't even been close to it. These pictures and your discription moved me to tears once again. There has just been so much of it. We take so much for granted.....

Raspberry Lane Primitives said...

Hi Angie: Such a tragedy. Let us all continue to pray for the people of Joplin. I felt your pain word by word, picture by picture, my friend.

Brenda said...

I can't even imagine what those people are going through. Something that I hope I will never have to deal with. My hearts and prayers go out to all those people in Joplin, Alabama, everywhere else where mother nature is not being nice, flooding (lots of that to come to my area). You did awesome with this post Angie!!


*Kountry*Porch*Primitives* said...

So much sadness & so many memories for myself. My heart skipped a beat when I read your comment about the smell....that is the one thing I will always remember about our tornado...thank Gog there was no death mingled in (besides the stray bird or small wandering animal). It is an acrid that stays with you for a long time. Prayers to all, what is happening with our weather????? ~Kriss~

Connie said...

Absolutely heart breaking! So much destruction that you don't really see on TV or the newspapers. I had NO idea it was so huge an area that had been destroyed. I will be praying for everyone!

honeycreekprims said...

A few minutes ago I heard on the radio the death count for Joplin is now at 151. Keep in mind the survivors have not just lost their homes, cars, pets and/or family members, most have lost their jobs as they businesses where they worked are gone. It's hard for me to even imagine it. Put yourself in their shoes, then write a check and send it to the American Red Cross. They need all the help they can get.

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Thanks for this post ;) :) I actually found you via a link in Linda's blog over at Prairie Flower Farm :) :) A lady in my church here in Oregon has 14 family members in Joplin. She's from there.. They were spread out in three homes. Two of the homes were completely decimated in the tornado. So all 14 members are living together in the one house that is still standing. I'm putting together some knitting supplies for the ladies. Soem of them like to knit...and money will be needed elsewhere..they can't afford to buy new supplies. So I've got extra...and only two pairs of hands...I can't knit more than one project at a time. you get the idea ;) :) :) Your blog is really cute. I'm going to "like" your page on FAcebook, too :) :) Blesings and having a great weekend. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Linda Stubbs said...

Hello Angie, my heart is so full right now of sad. I haven't seen any pictures like this and you really captured the devastation. How sad. I got off and I tell you it was like I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING. So I am. I hope you get my email. I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do. I have already received two emails and they want to also help. Thank you for putting up this post. I won't sit anymore!

I put you up on my post looks like Heather has been here. I have the most precious ladies that follow my blog. Can't wait to see what they are going to do~~~~~

Hugs to you sweet friend, Linda

Liz said...

I feel for all the people and the animals. It is going to take along time for them. In MA we don't see this kind of dsasters.Last month we had a urge one in Western MA. You just never know with changes in the weather. Thanks for stopping at my blog. The cart you like use to be in a mall and was use for selling items. I found it in a yard sale for 25.00 and painted it. It was a steal.

Friendship Crossing said...

Hey Angie,
Haven't been able to post in awhile w/blogger and comp. problems, but I hope this one goes thru.
How horribly sad the devastation some people have to live with and go thru. You certainly captured it all, didn't you? Amazing pictures and I can see why you sobbed and your heart broke for the city! They will continue to be in our prayers.
If there's a crafty project some of us can do to ease their pain just a little, please let me know how I can be involved.
Thanks for sharing!