A million words have been written and thousands of pictures taken, but you cannot comprehend the full scope of the disaster caused by the EF 4 tornado in Joplin, MO unless you see it up close and personal.
Thousands of lives have been disrupted. Some 151 residents of the community are dead.
At the last second, graduation ceremonies at Joplin High School were moved to Missouri Southern State University to accommodate all the family and friends forced to move indoors because of pending storms. If families, relatives and students had their graduation at the high school, the death toll would likely have been in the thousands.
The theatre at the school and the rest of the grounds are in almost total ruination. Everything in a 6-mile area, from 120th street to 129th street is nearly gone. The total destruction is devastating.
The Villa Duchesne Oak Hill School community did its part to gather nonperishable supplies and deliver them to the Salvation Army relief center in Joplin.
Co-chairs of the drive, Coni Kreisch and Tracy Bazoian, mothers of Villa grads, made the trip to Joplin Friday along with retired Parkway Human Resources Director Mary Muckler and Ladue-Frontenac Patch editor Jim Baer.
Three busloads of Wal-Mart marketing department employees came from Bentonville, AR to join in the cleanup, and help with the unloading of donations.
Beverly Meek of Wal-Mart said, “We were supposed to do a team-building exercise. It was supposed to be a fun day. Now is not the time to be having fun.” Agaja Reddy of Wal-Mart’s merchandising unit in New York City was in Bentonville at the time of the tornado. “This is a very humbling thing to see. This brings everything back to reality,” she said.
Villa students and family members collected some 2,000 cans of food along with a generous supply of blankets, diapers, paper products, shoes and other items and donated everything to the Salvation Army Midland Joplin Core group. Mark Rehrig of the regional Joplin Salvation Army staff accepted the donations along with $2,000 in cash.
From the look of things, it could take years for Joplin residents to get back on their feet and into their homes. Where students will attend school in the fall is very much uncertain. Still, in other parts of town, there is normalcy as if no tornado had struck. Tents are set up in the sweltering heat to distribute food and water to survivors. Telephone stores and insurance adjusters are working out of temporary shelters and buses to meet everyone's needs.
This is a ground level look at the massive destruction that struck Joplin three weeks from today along with a video highlight of Villa’s donation to the cause.
There are many ways to donate to Joplin Tornado Relief.
Volunteers from Samaritan Purse are working all over Joplin. World Wide Vision is accepting cash donations, as are the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Locally, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis is collecting cash through its website.
Blankets, underwear, shoes, and a wide variety of nonperishable foods can be shipped to the Fair Acres YMCA, 2600 Grand, Carthage, MO 64836--Attention Joplin Relief.