Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the horrific tornadoes that not only took the lives of at least 160 people, but levelled much of the great Missouri town. We’d just returned from our Route 66 trip, which means we went through Joplin twice just a few weeks before the storm did (we actually drove right through the tornado that hit St. Louis in April).
We’ve not been able to travel this year, and so I’ve not been able to see the changes wrought in Joplin. Maybe that’s a good thing (selfish as it is for me to say); the photographs and footage were enough to leave me distraught, to say nothing of the tales I heard on the news of lives lost. It just wrenched my heart and the heart of millions of Americans. Regardless, it surprised me a little bit when Brandi put up a post about Joplin yesterday—has it really been a year? It is still all so astounding to think about, and difficult to fathom.
I encourage you to read Brandi’s post. It’s stories from individuals that, I think, are so important to history—the little things we notice and experience. For instance, she tells us that she told a volunteer group she’d go get her truck to help them haul supplies into the city; upon returning to their meeting place, they’d left, having already found a way to pack everything into their own vehicle and go (as they’d agreed with Brandi). Oddly, what really sticks out to me is her saying, “The whole town smelled like freshly cut, wet, 2×4’s.”
Just…interesting to think about. But it also helps the rest of us understand, at least in a small way, what it was like—and what level of destruction there was for the air to smell that way.
You may read more at Route 66 News, where Ron has posted an incredible video from the St. John’s surveillance camera. He calls it “breathtaking”, and he isn’t kidding.
I will say that having gone through Missouri on photography trips twice now, I have no doubt that the citizens of Joplin have rebuilt a great deal, and will continue to do so. Missourians are some of the best people you’ll meet. Joplin will rise again, to withstand the storms ensuing years will bring.