Friday, May 27, 2011

Stories of Joplin...

I wrote this note to a few friends who are dear to me...a group of women that I meet with monthly to pray for our husbands, their work, and our families, and our walks with God. After writing it, I knew that I had to post it too, to share these accounts and give them a place to live.

If you have a tornado story too, from Joplin or another location, please feel free to leave an account of it in the notes.

May God continue to show the power of His glory, through disasters and recovery, through death and birth, through the lives of people who are able to move along day after day, and those that come alongside them and bring them bottled water, pillows, peanut butter and jelly...
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I know that I'll be seeing you guys over the next week or so, but I didn't want to forget the things that Jason has shared with me....if I've already told you these things I'm sorry for repeating it...

Jason was just back from a Men's retreat with his girlfriend's dad (Jason) and her little brother. They were in NW AR somewhere - fishing?? Don't remember exactly. As they were saying goodbye at their house in Carl Jct (North of Joplin) it started to rain, and storm, and Jason asked if he could just hang out there until the storm passed. They said yes, and the sirens went off and they evacuated to a neighbor's basement. The tornado didn't go by there, so they were fine. Jason had been texting with me the whole time and I had weather channel on, so I knew right away that there was a tornado on the ground in Joplin. Jason had to drive right through it all, and immediately tried to get ahold of his best friend K, but he didn't answer. K lived in back of the Walmart that was destroyed...and as Jason drove to the apt. to check on K he was pretty shook up - he was on the phone with me and was saying "oh wow...I can't believe this...the store is gone...oh my..." and then that he had to go and check on him. He had no idea what he was going to find when he got there, but he knew he needed to know - and to help him if he needed help. His apt. was standing, but the windows were blown out, his dog was ok, and K was a little shell shocked sitting on his couch. He had hid in the bathroom and came out once the noise stopped...there was a block wall in back of his apt. that barely missed him..he would have been crushed.

Jason went out to his house to check on things...the door to his greenhouse was blown off, and there were a lot of trees down, but the buildings were still standing. They still don't have power out there, but Jason goes back every day to check on his cat and his landlord's dog (they are staying with family until utilities are back on there - they have a newborn baby so they needed to be especially careful - and a few other kids too).

After that Jason went to the Police station to check in, and see where they needed assistance. They sent him over to Memorial Hall, the makeshift medical center since St. John's was hit directly and they evacuated all their patients to Freeman, which also got some of the trauma injuries...they were full, and had sent others on to other hospitals in the 4 state area (Joplin's less than an hour from NW AR, NE OK, SW KS and Springfield, MO). After he got there he couldn't sit still, so he went out "door to door" at their request. At one point he called me and said, "They told me to go door to door, but there are no doors left to go to...everything is flat". He also talked about finding  a few people dead either IN or UNDER a car - and having to get a team in to get them out. He said he was so grateful for his new iPhone, for the GPS on it, as no street was recognizable - especially in the dark. He was pretty shook up. Eliysha's folks said that Jason could sleep there - as he didn't have any power or water at his place - so he went back there and slept on the couch a few hours before going to The Bridge to volunteer at 6am. He's been doing that during the day and working nights this week, then going and crashing at the Spangler's house - until her big brother got home from Hawaii where he is stationed in the Navy(?). He was able to get a 20 day emergency leave to assist in the disaster relief.

B  - J's mother in law (and a dear friend of mine) USUALLY goes to Weight Watchers on Sunday afternoons at 5 or so, then goes to Walmart to do her shopping for the week. She was really tired that afternoon, and took a nap, and slept through till the sirens went off. If she had set an alarm she would have been in town, likely at the walmart store that was demolished.

DD  - a friend on facebook and mom of one of our missionaries in A, was in a play at the Stained Glass Theater right around the corner from the St John's Hospital. Her granddaughter was watching the play. DD was in a costume change when the sirens went off. She got stuck in a stairwell, and her granddaughter was whisked to the basement of the building. The whole building was demolished - and a brick wall was knocked down and although the wind should have blown it INTO the stairwell where they were seeking shelter, it fell against the wind AWAY from the stairwell...a miracle!!  DD was beat up by flying bricks - broken nose, and bruised up. Her granddaughter was safe and unharmed. Many people lost their lives, and the director of the play was undergoing a precarious surgery and fighting infection today. Keep them in prayer please - as it was a pretty tight theater group that had performed for many years together.

Jason has shared a few stories from student friends that all had survived...only one student at OCC lost her life, a close friend of his girlfriend's, and many have lost their homes, apartments, cars and all their belongings.

One student was hiding IN their bathtub, when something hit the wall of the shower and THREW him OUT of the tub, to the middle of the room next to the bathroom. The apartment was hit, hard, and the bathroom disappeared. The only thing remaining was the one area of the room he was in. God's hand.

Another young family was hiding in their bathtub. they put their children in the tub, and mom and dad laid down on top of them, trying to keep the twister from hurting them. The whole mattress was picked up, with kids below and parents on top, and set in another room, and the bathtub was gone.

My friend, Bruce Beadles, has been going from Springfield to assist in the recovery work, and he shares these stories which he calls "Faces of Joplin":

Faces of Joplin: Older man was walking down the street, going to take pictures of his sons house for insurance. I asked which house was his... He was not sure. He had been looking for it for quite a while. Just cant find it...

Faces of Joplin: Brad is a joplin firefighter. Today was his frst day off since his home was destroyed. They insisted he take the day off to go deal with his house. His gaze was blank and distant, unsure of what to do. We helped him get some belongings out of his house and moved to a new location. Please pray for Brad and his family tonight!

Faces of Joplin: a tired and broken man came into the convenience store talking to the joplin pd. I couldn't hear what they said to him but my heart broke when he replied "I will not go home and sleep, I will not stop calling, and if it was your daughter missing you wouldn't either!". (from a friend's post)

Faces of Joplin: He said, "Why would God do this?" My best comparison: If you are a child walking down the street with your dad, and you step on a nail, did your dad cause it to happen? No, but He did pick you up and carry you until you could walk on your own.

Faces of Joplin: Saint (the dog) lived 2 blocks from the hospital. When the tornado came he was in his kennel by an inner wall. His family just made it under their house as the house was destroyed. His cage was strong enough to keep the debris from crushing him. He was trapped until the following morning.

Faces of Joplin: Ricks dad died in his livingroom 2 weeks ago as he performed CPR on him. Today we unburried his belongings and hauled truck and 2 trailer loads to a storage shed. He said his family had been praying and today his prayers were answered.

I pray that you are BLESSED through the stories that you read here. I pray that it gives you courage to face whatever you are facing today...and strength to face whatever comes at you tomorrow. Know that you are loved!!