It was typical Sunday evening in Joplin, Missouri. Families enjoying what was left of their weekend. Going out to eat. Kicking back at home. Some were celebrating graduation with family and friends. Churches preparing for their evening service. Businesses about to close for the night. Storm clouds on the horizon. Nothing new for the Midwest.
And the storm rolls in. Folks hardly notice the shrill siren. This time of year, storms and sirens are common and mostly with no effect. The sirens fade out. As usual, false alarm. Many keep going about their business. Then, the sirens sound again. This is not common! 30 seconds later Joplin is ravished by an EF-5 tornado. The city crushes under the weight of the 200 mph winds. 8,000 homes. 300 businesses. 39 churches. Destroyed. In the blink of an eye one-third of Joplin is unrecognizable. And the people. Oh, the people. Many lost their lives, many more are severely injured and even more are climbing out of the rubble to realize that nothing is left of the homes.
Streets are covered with trees, poles, power lines, crumpled cars and debris. Virtually undrivable. Families driving, running, climbing and digging to check on loved ones. Everyday heroes spring into action. Running from house to house to check on neighbors they hardly know. Emergency crews working as fast they can to save as many as they can. Shelters and triage centers are organized at breakneck speed. The heartbroken community stands up to help those that now have nothing but the clothes on their back and their families by their side.
The days that follow are full of raw emotion. Adrenaline. Shock. Loss. Fear. Fatigue. And then reality sets in. The tears flow as KZRG callers plead for family members to contact them. We rejoice when we hear that families are reunited. The stories spread of heroes that gave their life to save loved ones or strangers. We mourn for those we knew and didn’t know. We celebrate with those that survived. We each have our own story, yet we are all a part of the same story: Joplin rises from the rubble.
And, we are not doing it alone. Never have we seen human kindness of this magnitude. People coming from near and far to help with the relief efforts. Whether it’s dropping off a case of water or rebuilding a home, the response has been tremendous. Regular people doing what they can to offer hope and encouragement to those affected. A Wisconsin fireman completing a secondary sweep for survivors offers a hug. Pizza Hut driving through neighborhoods passing out personal pan pizzas. Food, drinks and supplies on every street corner. Crews walking with chainsaws and work gloves ready to help anyone along their path. This outpouring of love has helped Joplin stand when it did not feel like it could stand. It got us through the worst week of our life. It helped us find hope for the future. This tornado may have crushed our city, but it did not crush our spirits. The great people of our city are now ready to build a bigger and better Joplin!
We are happy to report that the staff of MyModernWeb is safe. David, our project manager, lost his home and his car. Thankfully he and his family were out of town when the tornado hit. Our office was not in the path of the tornado. Unfortunately, we were down for most of last week due to limited internet service. We are now back up and ready serve.
We have revamped our Joplin Places website to assist the businesses of Joplin throughout this rebuilding process. JoplinPlaces.com offers Joplin businesses a way to keep current and potential customers updated on specials, promotions or events. We have also added a new section where businesses may share their efforts in the tornado relief.
We want to thank each of you that reached out to us last week to make sure we were okay. We sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness. Please remember Joplin in the coming weeks and months. We cannot do this on our own. The strength of many has brought us this far and we have a long way to go.