I keep telling myself that the next time I wake up, it will all have been a dream. That our trip to church on the afternoon of May 22 didn’t end in us in the hall way in the storm safety area with near tennis ball sized hail pummeling the building. That I didn’t start to find out via FaceBook a half hour or so later that our town had basically been destroyed. However, each time that I do manage to get to sleep, when I wake up, the fact remains that our town will never be the same again.
By now, I am sure that you have heard about the F5 tornado that hit Joplin MO on Sunday May 22, 2001. We live in Joplin. Hubbs, the Bugs, the Beans and I are all fine. We didn’t have any damage to our home and the only damage to the car was one ding on our roof. How our car wasn’t damaged more severely with the hail that hit at the church is totally beyond me. I am beyond grateful that I’m not having to deal with insurance companies and FEMA at the moment though.
We live about 12 blocks from what used to be St. John’s. The hospital that took a direct hit. I have seen photographs on Facebook and how few people lost their lives there totally astounds me. We had friends at the Stained Glass Theater that was demolished (all our friends survived, though are rather beaten up). Our pastor’s wife was at the Wal-Mart that was destroyed. She was missing for about three hours before her husband found her walking towards the church in an effort to find safety.
Ten of our church family lost their homes. Several have lost vehicles. All of us have lost our sense of security and our town.
My husband’s work was destroyed. As we were going home from the church to see if we still had a house that night, it struck me that if it had been a work day, I probably would have been a widow. After seeing the pictures of the building, that was located on Range Line Rd right in front of the Wal-Mart, I am convinced that no one would have survived. The interior hallway where they would have gone in the event of a tornado basically collapsed on where they would have been. All of the associates at his store are alive and well. Some had some damage to their homes.
People have asked me what they can do to help. First and foremost, pray for us. Believe me, we need the prayers. They are felt and I truly believe that I wouldn’t be as ok as I am right now without them.
Then people want to know what else they can do. Well, there are several things you can do. First, don’t send us clothes. We are swimming in clothes donations and no one in town is currently taking them. And when the time comes that we need them, please send practical things. We aren’t going to be needing two piece skimpy bathing suits, high heeled boots and the like (yes, those have been donated thus far…)
Things that we do need are:
Batteries, Flashlights, non-perishable food items, OTC meds and first aid supplies, work gloves, safety glasses, ear protection (from the chain saws and such), paper goods (plates, bowls, cups, eating utensils, paper towels and toilet paper). Sterno burners, any and all baby supplies you can think of (infant and childrens clothes, toys, bottles, formula, baby food, binkys). Cleaning supplies (bleach, scrub brushes, rubber gloves, etc), rakes, shovels, heavy duty clippers, chain saws (with oil).
People could use gift cards to purchase gasoline (our main stations here are Kum and Go), Walmart (we have two others locally), Target, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Long John Silvers, Jimmy John’s, Wendys, Culvers, Arby’s.
You can also give money.
Please visit http://www.mthopecofc.org to get the address, see the updated list of what we are needing and how to donate at a secure site that is set up through the church. All funds will be used to aid those affected by the disaster.
I plan on posting more about the tornado in the days to come. About what we’ve been doing, how we are doing and such. We’ve been busy since then with relief efforts and trying to process the whole thing. So please be patient. We have a lot of work yet to do so I probably won’t be on much until next week if at all. There are stories of hope to be told. Stories of God’s deliverance. And our continuing story of coping and triumphing through. It has been a trying time. I’ve been in shock, I’ve felt the fear, the terror. I’ve had sleepless nights since this.
So please, pray for us. Pray for our town. Pray that people come to Christ through this. Pray that we can find our new normal. The girls haven’t seen the wreckage yet. They just know that the town had a bad storm and that buildings got ruined and people died. They don’t grasp the magnitude of what has happened here. A lot of children don’t yet. Pray for them. Pray for them to not be scared of regular thunderstorms. Pray for them to adjust.
Just pray. And in a few weeks, we will be needing help with clean up. Please consider coming out to do so.