Monday, May 23, 2011

Destruction And Devastation In Joplin

 We see it on the news almost every day - devastation and destruction from natural disasters.  In recent months, we have seen it on a  large scale scope from tsunamis to tornadoes to fires and floods.  Each time, it gives me pause and scars my heart.  As a tornado survivor myself, I know all too well the gamut of emotions that run through mind, body, and soul at such times.

But sometimes it hits even closer to home.

I live in a small town, Neosho, just a few miles south of Joplin, Missouri.   Joplin is our regional hub for everything from medical care to higher education to shopping to cultural events.  I lived there myself when I attended Missouri Southern State University and received my degree there.  All three of my children were born in Joplin.   I go there often to shop or to play.  

Seeing the devastation wreaked last evening in minutes is hard.  As we watched some of the early footage on The Weather Channel, one of my daughters remarked how sorry she felt for all those so hard hit.   I do too but my own feelings go beyond that.   I've walked that difficult mile and so beyond the sympathy, the empathy, the sorrow, I know the shell-shocked disbelief that comes when you find your home and all familiar vanished in the roaring wind.

I know the clench of fear when you search for a loved one after a tornado, heart in your mouth as you pray that you will find your dear one alive.   I know the roar of joy when you find them and then the realization that life as you know it has changed forever.

I remember very well how in such a great loss your mind cannot deal with the big picture and that instead you find yourself sad over the loss of small items, a handmade quilt, a special picture, another treasured item because the enormity is beyond human understanding at that point.

I have not and will never forget the empty feeling of being homeless, of wondering where you might lay your head to rest, and the denial that this is your situation.

I remember relying on the kindness of strangers.  Their help, their assistance offered both hope and succor, things I will never forget.  Their shining assistance helped make up for those who came to sight see or to loot.

My heart breaks this morning for my neighbors in Joplin and I know that the familiar town I know so well will recover yet it will never be the same.

1 comment:

  1. This is just horrible, Lee Ann. Prayers going up for all involved. I'm so glad you're safe.


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