Phil has been keeping up this blog for Pete and me over the past several weeks, and has made so many excellent entries that it is difficult to come in the middle and add to his observations. Due to unexplained diarrhea last night, today was an “under the weather” day for me and I drove the van while Pete and Phil dealt with temperature conditions that lead to severe weather alerts called “excessive heat warning” that states that we should reschedule strenuous activities and take breaks in air conditioned buildings. Sure…..!! We do drink a lot of water as recommended.
However, Pete and I (Dave) did get to Joplin this past Friday, and observed a town in distress. A major swath of the town has been removed by a fearful series of tornadoes that literally cleared the area of buildings and left mounds of debris that is being cleared by the city and volunteers.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in New Orleans since Katrina, and the two have some significant differences.. Katrina left 90,000 square miles of destruction, Joplin less than 100. Katrina left about 1900 dead, Joplin about 160.
With Katrina, most houses were left standing and in need of rehabilitation (with some notable exceptions in the Lower Ninth and along the Gulf Coast up to a mile inland); in Joplin, most affected houses simply vanished with some on the fringes in need of repair. With Katrina, the infrastructure necessary for self-help was so destroyed, and the population so dispersed, that the response was almost entirely from the outside, especially in the New Orleans area. In Joplin, the unaffected neighborhoods nearby are responding to their neighborhoods in heroic ways. In both communities, there are views as far as one can see of empty blocks where houses and businesses once stood.
FEMA has also learned a thing or two about response to disasters, and appears to be responding in more helpful ways. Churches are stepping up, and volunteers are starting to appear willing to help. The community does not yet seem to be organized for the long haul, but that may follow. After touring the affected area, there is room for our churches and denominational disaster response agency (CRWRC) to respond, but there are also great needs in other areas of the country following a rather active weather pattern this spring,
I did meet with two organizations who are responding, and both have received extensive donations for the community. The Abundant Life Christian Center is one of these agencies. The pastor, Larry Bjorklund has made his large facility available for housing volunteers and the parking lot is full of semi-trailers full of donations. There are medical services offered, and the volunteers are going out into the community to work on requests that come to the attention of the pastor. Interest in partnering does not appear to be important, but there is a need and desire to have volunteers come to the community and stay at the church facilities. Their phone number is 417-782-6533.
Another is the Joplin Family Worship Center, which is on the fringe of the destroyed area. Richard Yeager is a deacon there who has assumed some of the administrative responsibilities. He generously agreed to take Pete and I for a tour of the area, and gave a continuing narrative of the changes to the neighborhoods caused by the tornado. He spoke of a three year plan and commitment to the community, and said there were three other centers responding. The secretary of the church, Charity Bethke, is interested in volunteers coming to the Center to work in the community and at the center. Her phone number is 417-623-6134, Ext 10.
One of the places destroyed is the hospital. Above is a picture of this huge building that was literally moved off its foundation, and the top two floors were ripped off. The other posted pictures show the extent of the damage to the neighborhood, with houses and large businesses completely demolished.
|Hospital wich was knocked off its foundation.|