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Joplin Tornado - My Story Month 1

Updated on February 11, 2012

Key word for day one: numb. Key word for day 2: sore. Key word for week one: tired. Keyword for month 1: confused.

After the first intense week we moved into the home of some different friends of ours closer in to town. This would make it easier to take care of business in town, and give us a little more space. Also Linda has some of the same food sensitivities that I do, does not have a crowd of children to fix for, and so could more easily cater to me. Our dog fit right in with their four. Mark moved to the house of a friend of his nearby.

I heard that stress causes excessive tiredness, among other things. I was not aware that I was any more irritable, compulsive or controlling than usual, but man, the tiredness overcame me. It was hard to get myself fully awake in the mornings, even though I continued to rise early. One morning I fell asleep on the couch before lunch, and someone asked, "Is she alright?"

"It's stress," I heard Tom answer.

Everyone was asking us what we were going to do. We had no clue. It was about two weeks before someone from our insurance company came out to look at the house. His report was inconclusive, so then we had to wait on an engineer to see it and report on it. Then we had to wait some more to hear the final judgment: the house could be stripped down to framing and rebuilt from there.

Every single one of our friends and relatives were not happy with that. They all wanted us to demolish or move, because of mold and and possible damage to the slab.


What to do? We had loved our house and did not want to move. It had been snatched away from us suddenly. We should give it a chance and rebuild. Then everything would be new and the value of our house would go up. But then we would have the same high mortgage payments as before and all the insurance money would be gone. But I could choose my floors, and floor plan get a walk in closet. But what will happen in that neighborhood in the future? What kind of houses will they rebuild? Will there be commercial zoning? Everyone I know who has been involved in a building process says it is a MAJOR pain in the neck, and we don't need any more stress.

Finally we decided to take the easy way out. Take the money from insurance, pay off the mortgage and look for another house. We would have enough money left to make a down payment, so our monthly payments would be less. And it is a good chance to downsize a bit, since our children are almost all grown and gone.

So we started looking at houses. This, no, that one. Rent house or apartment in the meantime? Rent with option to buy? Where do we want to go? Arrrgggg!

Happily, we are now all set up in a duplex, with rented furniture, all courtesy of our insurance. We have a six month lease, and are taking our time to decide on a house.

Meanwhile, things are happening in Joplin.


Rubble is being systematically removed. Houses are being demolished and the lots cleared. The houses on each side of us, in front and in back, are all gone. Our smitten home stands alone. On the sign for "Joplin High School" the "J" and the "lin" were blown away. Someone appropriately painted in "H" and "E".

Joplin High School sign.
Joplin High School sign.

The carvings were done by a nearby artist from trees that were destroyed on the grounds of the school. The eagle is the mascot of the school.

Churches and charities continue to provide services and food from many stations. Cases of bottled water sit at many intersections for those who need it.

Fema came to town and was amazed at the amount of work that had already been done, and the extent of the organization and cooperation. "Does everyone in town have a pickup and chainsaw?" they wondered. We are a very special people here in Joplin.

The trees, though, were the best encouragement. After a storm that stripped them of all but the trunks, even the bark, they did not give up. Determined to show that they still had life left in them, and that they intended to grow to provide shade and beauty once again, they sprouted leaves out of the very trunks. With the rubble removed, grass greened up again. Acres of cleared land in the heart of town starts to look almost like a kind of park, except for a chimney here and a slab there to remind us of what this land was. Joplin grows again.

The tree grows back, with roofing still lodged in its branches.
The tree grows back, with roofing still lodged in its branches.

To see a photo galery: Joplin Tornado - Photos

Next aritcle: What Joplin Did Right


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    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 6 years ago from Connecticut

      Amazing pictures! Isn't it amazing what can come out of destruction, those trees will hopefully be symbolic of your community! I wish you the best with getting things back in order, good luck! Great Hub for such a horrible event.