Tornado brings Joplin, community together

Jessica Link, Staff writer

Curtis Almeter

Jessica Link, Staff writer

Jessica Link

May 22, a normal, lazy Sunday, no more remarkable than any other.

I was reading a magazine and watching TV, thoroughly enjoying myself until my phone started going crazy.

I sighed and reached for it. I hadn’t even reached the phone when the lights flashed. After two more surges, I went immediately to the closet and grabbed a flashlight.

A minute later the lights went out for good.

I stumbled my way into the only shelter I had, my bedroom closet.

The duration I was there seems suspended in time. Even now I couldn’t tell you how long I was there.

I felt the apartment shake and the hail hit. When I stepped out of that closet, I wasn’t sure what to expect next.  

Grabbing my keys, I unlocked the front door. The sight that greeted me made me gasp. The outside reminded me of after photos of hurricanes.

There was water standing in the ditches and everything was damp. The cars, ground, and even the walls and roof of the apartment were covered in debris.

It looked like someone had thrown a house into a blender and sprinkled it over Joplin.

People began pouring out of their houses. The gathering together was immediate. Random strangers checked on their friends, yelling reports to me as they drove past. The landlord and neighbors asked if I was okay.

It truly was a surreal day, chaos everywhere and yet it only took a look for a stranger to understand your thoughts. No one had to explain that day what we were thinking; everyone just knew.

Everyone who was in Joplin that day will always share a bond.

It wasn’t just Joplin; the whole of the country looked on what had happened and mourned with us.

The love and compassion of the volunteers and emergency workers was a tangible feeling. It was impossible not to feel something while seeing the city once whole now so broken.

The emotion and chaos of the city lapped around me like the ocean; I was a part of it but at the same time separate.

Upon seeing the devastation of the city, it was inconceivable to comprehend the full extent of the damage. Each street brought new levels of grief and horror.

Emergency workers became a welcome sight on the streets. Everyone was thankful for what they had done.

The people in Joplin understood each other’s feelings, but we were often amazed at the depth of the response to our plight from others. After a week, two, even three, the relief just kept coming.

In times of great and horrible happenings people often ask, “Why?”

I’m not sure that I will ever know the answer to this however, it is comforting and healing to see survivors banding together.

A kind of broken beauty arises from the ashes of disasters — May 22, September 11, and others. The generosity and universal love that arises from the survivors is once again apparent.

Perhaps the reason for disasters such as these is to bring together people and let us forget our differences, to showcase the real meaning of the human spirit.