At 5:30 p.m. on a typical Spring Sunday afternoon, the residents of Joplin, Missouri were sitting down to family dinners. They were browsing for their next home improvement project at Home Depot. They were buying their groceries at Wal-Mart. They were seeking routine medical treatment at St. John’s Hospital. High School students had just graduated, ready to meet their future head-on. Within fifteen minutes, their lives would be inexorably changed.
In the deadliest single tornado hit in the United States in nearly 60 years, over 117 unsuspecting people lost their lives and thousands lost their loved ones. It was the deadliest tornado on record in the U.S. since 1947. The numbers rise each day as brave men and women sift through the rubble of shattered lives hoping to find that one survivor.
My name is Wesley Lovell, a film critic based out of Springfield, Missouri, a mere 45 minutes northeast of this tragedy. I sympathize with the people of Joplin. I’ve been there more than a dozen times in my life. I’ve traveled down Range Line Road. I’ve eaten at the Taco Bell. I’ve shopped at local businesses. I may not personally know anyone directly affected by this tragic event, but it hits very close to home, almost too close. I have friends who know those that lost everything. I’ve read about people searching for loved ones who’ve gone missing and I’ve cried. I’ve seen the pictures of pets found who may never see their families again. I’ve seen pictures and videos and calls for help. I hope that they will not go unheeded.
In the days and weeks ahead, the residents of Joplin, Mo. will begin to clean up the wreckage and rebuild their homes and lives. Many will bury the men, women, children and pets taken from them too soon. Hundreds of relief efforts have begun. And while you may not live near there or gone through such an event, you can still help.
Here are a few links that may help you find out more about this terrible event:
City of Joplin Facebook Page
Red Cross Safe & Well Website to report yourself safe & well and search for loved ones.
Missouri State – Joplin Tornado Relief Effort Site
Relief Effort Donation Information
Joplin Humane Society
A handful of Before-and-After photos
Every little bit helps. If 1,000 people donated just $5 each, that’s $5,000 more than they have today.
Even if you cannot send money to help, your positive energy, thoughts and prayers are always appreciated.