Saturday, May 28, 2011

Joplin tornado tragedy

Hello! And welcome to my blog site, and very first blog post.  I am just learning how to use this site so bear with me as I figure things out.   Also, don't be discouraged by my first blog post being somewhat depressing, but the images and stories I have seen and heard coming out of Missouri this past week have really been weighing heavily on my mind.

In case you haven't heard, a massive EF-5 Tornado struck the city of Joplin, MO on May 22nd.  It developed on the west edge of town while intensifying rapidly to the highest category of conceivable tornado strength, leveling entire residential neighborhoods, striking the local 'Restaurant Row', heavily damaging the local primary hospital, and wiping clean an entire Wal-Mart and Home-Depot store.  By the time the tornado lifted, hundreds of people had been killed, thousands injured, and a community was changed forever. 

As a meteorologist, I have payed close attention to major weather events for years, and unfortunately have witnessed many weather related tragedies.  I tracked Hurricane Katrina as it made landfall on the Mississippi coastline, I've watched as storms tracked towards major cities every tornado season, and have even storm chased myself.  But the events which have taken place in MO for some reason have really hit me hard.  This community woke up to a sunny and humid morning, and by nightfall thousands of people were homeless, entire families wiped out, the city of Joplin demolished.

I know tragedies happen all the time, but this is middle America.  Many of these families are no different than my own, and I see the images on the news of families looking for their missing loved ones and it breaks my heart.  Often times tornado fatalities fall into risk groups (elderly, poor, infants), but this tornado showed no mercy, young or old, rich or poor, it just didn't matter. 

Will Norton, one of the tornadoes many victims.
One particular story that really gets me is the story of Will Norton, this young man had just graduated from High school that afternoon, he was on his way home from the ceremony with his father when they got caught in the tornado.  He was sucked out through the sunroof while the tornado tossed and rolled the vehicle.  His family was looking for him for a week following the storm, hoping to find him alive in some regional hospital. He was found yesterday night, a week later, and he didn't make it.    This guy was 18 years old, had an active Facebook, twitter, and youtube account, I really just see myself in this kid.  I don't even know him but im tearing up as I write this, I can't image the hell that this community is going through and I wish there was more I could do to help them.  What's even sadder is his story is not unique, there may end up being more than 200 people who met the same fate on this stormy afternoon.

I'm not writing this blog to bring people down, but I just feel the need to vent my feelings for what has unfolded in Joplin.  Maybe getting my thoughts down on paper will help express the pain I feel for this community.   I guess if anything should be taken away from this it's that you should value everything you have in your life, because you really never know what the future holds.  And also value what you have because it can be so easily be taken away, and some people have absolutely nothing. 

If you feel the desire to help out, you can donate to the red cross on their website or through text by texting REDCROSS to 90999 because I'm sure they need all the help they can get.  We can only hope this horrific tornado season ends soon, and in the mean time, keep Joplin in your thoughts.

Red Cross Homepage
City of Joplin Tornado Info Page
Wishes for will
High Res Tornado Damage Viewer (Incredible)

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