Yesterday my new company (Pineapple Advertising) loaded up and drove the hour and a half northeast from Tulsa to Joplin, Missouri. We had no idea what to expect, all we knew is that we wanted to help those that made it through the deadliest tornado in 60 years.
So we all loaded up a backpack and decided we would just walk the street of what was neighborhoods in Joplin and pass out some cold water, candy and help in any way we could. I had no idea the devastation would be what it was. Being from Oklahoma I am familiar with tornadoes and their damage…I remember the May 2000 EF-5 that hit the Oklahoma City area and all the damage that was done there. I can’t compare things really but I can say that Joplin was the worst destruction I have ever (and hope to ever) seen in my life. This tornado hit almost 100% residential areas. It had to have been at or close to one mile wide and at one point in walking the streets I could not see a house that was still standing. I am amazed that anyone above ground survived this storm.
We talked to people who rode out the storm in their basements, closets and even one couple that rode things out in the crawl space under their home…that was all that was left of their home. I saw boards impaling cars, buildings, chimneys, pretty much anything that was able to withstand the force of the wind was riddled with shrapnel from homes and cars. I did not see one leaf all day. The trees were completely cleaned of all branches smaller than 4-5 inches in diameter or were uprooted all together. Pretty much take everything you learned in physics classes and just imagine the most extreme circumstances. Amazing force of nature.
Above all of this destruction was one thing that stood tall. Humanity. There are times when honestly I simply don’t like people. We are rude, inconsiderate, and selfish…all of us. Yesterday that was nowhere to be found, blown away just like the leaves from all those trees. Everyone we encountered was there to help, or were thankful to receive help. I didn’t hear one horn honk…one yell unless for help and heard more thank you and God bless you than in my previous 33 years. As sad as it is, things like this restore my faith in humanity.
So if you have the time to go to Joplin and help please do…they need it today, tomorrow and will need it for a long time to come. They are resilient and their spirits are good but the people of Joplin need all the help they can get. We saw one house already being re-built which was a testament to the character of these people and in times like this we need to show them they aren’t alone in that character.