Monday, May 23, 2011

The 2011 Joplin Tornado

St. John's Regional Medical Center

A devastating tornado passed through Joplin, Missouri, Sunday evening leaving a path of destruction through our former home.  Here's a few details:

  • Shannon and I lived in Joplin, year around, for six years while we went to school at Ozark.  Shannon worked as a nurse on the fifth floor of St. Johns Hospital, which is now largely destroyed.
  • Ozark Christian College, which our church supports as one of our missions efforts, is on the north end of town, out of the path of destruction.  We have several church members (and both ministers) who either graduated or attended this Bible college and lived in the area.
  • Good information is flowing through OCC's Facebook page.
  • A Red Cross official said Sunday evening that 75% of the town was destroyed.  This isn't accurate.  But the devastation is widespread and severe, reportedly a six-mile long path through the middle of the city.  Search for Joplin on Google maps and follow the link to see a map of tornado damaged areas.  The latest official number I've heard is over 116 fatalities, making it one of the deadliest tornadoes in history.
  • Several Ozark faculty, students, and alumni lost their homes.  I've heard of at least one student who was killed and also an alumnus who lost his wife and child.  Please pray for these affected families and for those who have not yet received word.
  • Please donate blood.  There are reports of severe shortages.
  • If you've not been to Joplin, it's similar in size and scale to Lawrence, KS.  The population is around 50,000+ with 175,000 total in the metro area but the town serves as a hub for the region and I've heard people say the daytime population (counting commuters) is more like 250,000 but I don't know how accurate that is.
  • Our church's Missions Team is looking to coordinate relief efforts through OCC, especially as time passes and needs continue through the coming months.  Please stay tuned to see how we can help.
UpdateThere are reports that unaffiliated volunteers are being turned away and locals are very frustrated with gawkers who have been bogging down traffic today.

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