I spent almost three full years living in Joplin, Missouri. When the tornado hit, it was really close to home, both mentally and physically. Joplin is about an hour west of my hometown, and typically storms that hit Joplin move on to Springfield, so I was paying close attention to the storm (I’m kind of a weather nerd) and heard about the tornado immediately.
The first thing that went though my head was that I wished I was already a nurse so I could be there as soon as possible to help people. Honestly, I’ve been teetering between becoming a teacher and becoming a nurse for a few weeks. This disaster pushed me over the edge. I’m officially going to become a nurse, no matter what it takes.
So the true purpose of this post is to tell you guys about my experience helping Joplin on Tuesday. People keep asking me how I felt and what it was like, and quite frankly it was indescribable. You can’t explain how it looks in person. Every house in the 3/4 mile wide strip is demolished. Every tree is missing leaves and branches. A week and two days later, we were helping people recover belongings and move debris to the street for removal. The town seems to still be in shock. We didn’t go many places, but we could see the high school on the way to our site. The only reason I recognized it was because I had attended some of my ex-boyfriend’s brother’s baseball games there and remembered a few of the features still standing – which isn’t much.
One thing that struck me was that I found diabetes supplies on the ground around the first house where we worked. The homeowners were not present for that one, so I had no way of knowing or asking who had diabetes and if they had enough supplies left. I found a liberty medical box, a sharps container, and an empty test strip box. As far as diabetes supplies go, for now Joplin seems to be set. There are a few distribution centers around. The Springfield ADA and JDRF sprung into action immediately in this area. I am proud to live somewhere with organizations with that kind of foresight.
Right now, I’m still kind of digesting it all. I go back the next two days to volunteer for the Red Cross. The main thing I can gather from this whole ordeal is hope. The community at large, the Ozarks, the Four States, the City of Joplin, the state of Missouri, and the United States have been extremely supportive and Joplin thanks you for that. The city workers were sure to tell every volunteer they saw about their gratitude. I am proud to live here in a part of the country where people care so much about their neighbors.
If you want to help Joplin, please consider making a donation to the Red Cross, the United Way, or the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Do a google search on these terms and you will find ways to donate. Thank you in advance.