Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Return from Joplin, Missouri, Tornado

A photo of Nebraska DaveThose that read my last post know that I was bound for Joplin to help those in need from damage from the tornado.  I have returned with a very different perspective on what is important in life.  Everything can be taken away in just a mater of a couple minutes.  It's hard to imagine how anyone can recover from such emotional trauma in their lives.  The emotional and topographical scars from this tragedy will linger in this on for many many years to come.

On May 22nd, one of the single most destructive tornadoes tore through Joplin, Missouri.  This massive tornado destroyed everything in its path.  Nothing was left untouched.  The following picture is just a small snapshot of a path one mile wide and two miles long.  After home owners are done with finding anything they want to keep the dozers come in a push everything out to the curb for the trucks to haul away to the landfill.  Eventually all that will be left in this zone will be the streets.  Many people that have been affected will be taking whatever money they can get from insurance and buying another house.  The overall attitude of this area is one of hope and positive recovery attitude.

 Joplin Missouri Tornado Destruction 

This is the now famous St. John's Mercy Hospital.  The destructive power of the tornado blew out the windows of this building and generated enough lift on the building to twist the building four inches off the foundation.  The incredible power of this tornado was unbelievable.  You can see in the foreground what happened to many cars that were around or near the hospital.

St Johns Mercy Hospital 

This is a hospital truck the was probably down by the hospital was rolled up the hill and hurled against this tree with such force that it wrapped the frame around the tree.  It looks to be an average 26 foot straight truck with a steel frame.

Hospital Truck 

This is a backside shot of the same truck picture above.  That had to be one tough tree to stand strong against a tremendous hit like that.

Truck Frame Wrapped Around Tree 

This is the backside of the first house we worked on. We helped with carrying appliances, hazardous material, brush, and metal to the curb.  The two team members are standing by the front door.  The family in this house took shelter from the storm to the left of the front door in a hallway and watched the whole dining room/kitchen section as well as the entire roof get torn off and blown away.  No one in the family was harmed.

Tornado House 

Our next project was to help this home owner cut down four trees and saw them into chunks to save the him hundreds of dollars. We also hauled some appliances from the kitchen in back of the house to the curb to be hauled away.  The dead line for the FEMA help for such things was two days away.

Cut Down Tree 

The third place we helped was to unload a moving truck for  lady that was moving into a house.  Her house had been destroyed and she needed help to unload a truck into her new place to live.  She was an older lady and had heart wrenching stories about all the collectibles she had lost in the tornado.

I returned home very thankful for my humble home and all the simple things that make it a liveable place.

I hope and pray that your weekend was tornado, fire and flood free.

mary carton
7/2/2011 9:00:45 AM

The high school in Phil Campbell AL sustained heavy damage in the April 27 storms. The band room destroyed along with all instruments. Here is a link to how they are trying to restart the band.,0,1738726.story

nebraska dave
6/29/2011 11:30:02 PM

Mountain Woman, I saw the pictures of the flood damage on your personal blog. The flood waters did some really major road damage. It's pretty scary how fast nature can destroy what took man months or years to build. I'm glad to hear that no one was killed in your flood. We are still having flood issues here with the Missouri river. The north/south Interstate 29 from Omaha is closed due to water over the road both to the north and to the south. I'm always glad to hear about neighbors pulling together to overcome the bumps in life's road. Have a great Vermont farm day.

mountain woman
6/27/2011 11:59:05 AM

Dave, We just experienced serious flooding here. So terrible it took out most of the roads and bridges and it will be quite some time before it is back to normal. We were stranded for a few days but it is because of neighbors helping neighbors, taking out our equipment and others doing the same that roads became passable when the towns were so busy coping with the main roads. However, as bad as our problem was there was no loss of life here. What happened in Joplin is so tragic and heartbreaking and I can't even begin to imagine the suffering. My heart goes out to the residents. It is because of people like you who who put faith into action this world is a better place. Bless you and all of you who care enough to make a difference.

nebraska dave
6/20/2011 12:28:03 PM

Dave, thank you for your kind words. Maybe you have seen the e-mail circulating the Internet written by a doctor that was in St. John's Mercy Hospital when the tornado hit. One of the things in the e-mail was that people from the community started showing up within just a few minutes with pickup trucks and SUVs to help transport the patients to another care facility. I thought that was truly awesome and a testimony to the people of Joplin Missouri of their reactive responsibility to those that needed help in the city. I do it because I feel that I've been called to do it. It's not for the glory or the notoriety. The only reason I write about it is for folks to get a ordinary guy's on the ground view point on the situation and maybe someday the great great grand kids can get inspired by old grandpop's adventures. Have best smoke free day that you can.

dave larson
6/20/2011 9:44:41 AM

Dave, If there could possibly be a good thing derived from a tragedy such as this, it is the demonstrations of compassion and generosity displayed by you and those with you. Your actions set a benchmark for being a good neighbor. As I write here in SE Arizona and look out my window at the smoke from the forest fire across the valley, I realize just how fragile we all are when faced with the forces of destruction possible in the natural world. I also realize how important it is to help those hit, as you did, when these catastrophes strike. Thanks for reminding me that people will still go out of their way to help others.

nebraska dave
6/20/2011 8:25:04 AM

Mary, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Birds and animals just seem to have sense about impending danger. Don't they. We could learn a lot just from watching birds and animals. Well, except for them pesky squirrels. They just have too much fun and cause me too much grief. :0) Did you have much damage on your place? Have the best day that you can.

mary carton
6/19/2011 8:54:37 AM

After our April 27 storms & tornado's in NW Al it was several weeks before I saw hummingbirds at my feeders. I think they sense what is coming and leave the area. Now I'm only seeing male ruby throats at the feeder. I have seen females unless they are sitting on the nest right now. I have a weeping peach at the end of the drive they nest in which is close to the feeders.

nebraska dave
6/16/2011 4:14:47 PM

Cindy, it is indeed much different from TV snippets and actually being there seeing, smelling, touching someone's life. We always had to have the home owner with us to do work on the home so along with helping we heard the heart wrenching stories of first survival and then the emotional trauma that followed after the gravity of the situation began to become a reality. One of the most eerie things about disaster such as this is that there is no life there. I mean no birds, no rabbits, no bugs. Nothing. I helped with another tornado situation in Greenburg Kansas some years ago and they claimed it was several months before the birds and rabbits began to come back. I'm not sure whether they just left when they sensed something was wrong or that they were swept away with the tornado. Either way it's still a little different . Have the best Michigan day you can.

cindy murphy
6/16/2011 7:03:53 AM

It's often said that photos don't do the real thing justice - the beauty and warmth of a sunset, or the stark reality of the destructive power Mother Nature can wield. I can't imagine the emotion I'd feel standing in the center of all that tornado damage. Neither can I imagine how I'd feel if it was my family and friends who lived through such a thing. It's a great thing you guys do, Dave. Good work.

nebraska dave
6/15/2011 1:58:05 PM

Mary, I have not been up close or personal with an active on the ground tornado. Don't want to either. My mother was taking shelter in her childhood home basement when the house disappeared. No one was harmed but it left a vivid impression on her young mind. I grew up in a time before weather sirens so when the weather looked bad we were in the cellar on the farm and in the basement in the city. I learned a healthy respect for weather at an early age. This year has just been wild weather everywhere. Hasn't it? I hope and pray that you never ever have to go through another tornado again. It does indeed give you a different perspective on what's important in life. Have a great day.

mary carton
6/14/2011 10:23:14 PM

I've been through 2 tornadoes and I hope not to see a third one. It makes your realize what is important in live. You can acquire much material things and they are gone in seconds. Thanks for helping. Mary