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Devastating tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri

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Mercy hospital (old St. Johns) opened it's doors today. They moved all the patients from the temporary hospital over to their new hospital and the move went flawlessly. They started moving the patients around 7 AM or so, and were finished moving all 79 patients by around 11 AM. The hospital also had it's first birth this morning, twins.. a boy and a girl. 

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Today is the 4 year anniversary of the tornado. I can't believe it's been 4 years already as it seems like it wasn't too long ago everything was destroyed. 

 

St. John's (Mercy) hospital built a memorial garden where their chapel stood at the old hospital site, and the city decided it's going to build a new park on the rest of the land the old hospital was on. This park will be a 'passive park' and have a pond, fountains, trails, but no playground equipment or anything, that's reserved for Cunningham Park across the street. 

http://www.koamtv.com/story/29048960/joplin-city-council-approves-plans-for-new-park

 

St. John's (Mercy) temporary hospital that was built after the tornado will become a medical school a couple of years from now thanks to the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. It will be the first new medical school in Missouri in 40 years.

 

The Joplin Blasters (an independent professional baseball team) won their inaugural home opener last night in front of what may have been a nearly sold out stadium. 

 

And finally... The Joplin First Response tornado fund has closed after distributing around $1 million in donations. There were 991 donations given from people from all over the world. These donations were given to residents and non-profits. 41 grants were made to 27 non-profit agencies including Rebuild Joplin, Catholic Charities, and Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity. The grants were used to repair/rebuild homes, buy appliances for people who couldn't afford them and for storm shelters. Grants were also given to local churches who helped house and feed volunteers (many of the grants were used for storm shelters), and to child care services and mental health help for children who were traumatized. The first grant that was given was for weather radios for residents. One grant for $25,000 was returned by an agency who said it was no longer needed and some grants weren't fully used. The board decided they'd give the remaining $39,000 or so to the city.  

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Thanks for the update JoMo. Still amazing to me how much rebuilding has been done there. A true testament to the spirit of people living there and the thousands of volunteers.

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The findings of how the city government did after the Joplin tornado.......

 

The Missouri State Auditor concluded it's citizen petitioned audit of the Joplin City Government and determined that it has a rating of "poor", which is the worst you can get. There were examples of waste and mismanagement and city leaders who blurred the line between private business dealings and government services.

 

A lot of issues happened with the master developer and selection of the master developer, Wallace-Bajjali, who did absolutely nothing for the city. Other issues had to do with the previous mayor (the mayor at the time of the tornado), and his dealings with a real estate developer. He is currently under investigation by the FBI.

 

Whole story on the findings is here:

http://www.joplinglobe.com/news/audit-cites-questionable-property-deals-sunshine-law-violations/article_4c480410-45fd-11e5-b738-c77c7ea1d58a.html

 

 

EDIT: I guess it made National News as well:

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/18/the-associated-press-audit-millions-of-dollars-mismanaged-after-joplin-tornado.html

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Was there actually 200+ MPH winds?  I heard it was widespread 150 MPH winds, maybe 190 MPH tops.  Early reports said EF-4.  But because the tornado was so expansive, might as well make it a cat 5.  Conspiracy!

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Was there actually 200+ MPH winds?  I heard it was widespread 150 MPH winds, maybe 190 MPH tops.  Early reports said EF-4.  But because the tornado was so expansive, might as well make it a cat 5.  Conspiracy!

 

The EF5 rating was at least partly based (haven't read the survey in awhile) on manhole covers that were thrown from their locations and also concrete parking stops.

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Was there actually 200+ MPH winds?  I heard it was widespread 150 MPH winds, maybe 190 MPH tops.  Early reports said EF-4.  But because the tornado was so expansive, might as well make it a cat 5.  Conspiracy!

A lot of tornadoes only reach their peak strength briefly. Moore 2013 was rated EF5 based on the damage to (IIRC) Briarwood Elementary School alone. 

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A lot of tornadoes only reach their peak strength briefly. Moore 2013 was rated EF5 based on the damage to (IIRC) Briarwood Elementary School alone. 

 

This was changed upon further survey. Several homes that were bolted down to their foundations were swept away and these received an EF5 rating. Briarwood was discovered to have had multiple construction flaws and was downgraded.

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There have been several estimates of the maximum wind speed put forth. The 494 page NIST report has a pretty thorough analysis of the event from pretty much every angle imaginable (I mean, it is 494 pages afterall). It looks like the estimates ranged from 170-230 mph with those on the lower end of that range being more realistic. The report said the EF5 rating was the result of the manhole covers and tractor trailers. Though I'm unsure what context the later is in reference to. I also read that the rebar anchored parking bumpers influenced the rating as well.

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This was changed upon further survey. Several homes that were bolted down to their foundations were swept away and these received an EF5 rating. Briarwood was discovered to have had multiple construction flaws and was downgraded.

Thanks for correcting me. Still, my point was that peak intensity in a tornado is usually brief. 

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It's hard to believe we are coming up on 5 years since the tornado. I still remember it like it was yesterday.

 

It looks like Joplin is planning a Disaster Recovery Summit on Thursday, May 19th and Friday May 20th.

 

Speakers will come from Greensburg, KS, Tuscaloosa, AL, Cedar Rapids, IA, Minot, ND, Moore, OK, Vilonia, AR, Pilger, NE. There's various breakout sessions covering disaster related topics.

 

Full agenda: http://www.joplinproud.com/joplin-disaster-recovery-summit/agenda/

 

 

Joplin Memorial Marathon is on the 21st.... A community picnic will be held Sunday the 22nd, along with Joplin High School graduation (creepy that it's on Sunday the 22nd, just like the tornado) and it'll all end with a Memorial Service for those lost in the tornado.

 

http://www.joplinproud.com/

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Can someone provide a link to the discussion thread for this event? I can't seem to track it down. Thanks.

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Can someone provide a link to the discussion thread for this event? I can't seem to track it down. Thanks.

 

it was one of those events where most of the severe weather was in the Lakes/Ohio Subforum and not Central

 

http://www.americanwx.com/bb/index.php/topic/18738-may-21-22-midwest-great-lakes-severe-threat/page-14

 

that page is when Joplin becomes part of the discussion

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It's hard to believe we are coming up on 5 years since the tornado. I still remember it like it was yesterday.

 

It looks like Joplin is planning a Disaster Recovery Summit on Thursday, May 19th and Friday May 20th.

 

Speakers will come from Greensburg, KS, Tuscaloosa, AL, Cedar Rapids, IA, Minot, ND, Moore, OK, Vilonia, AR, Pilger, NE. There's various breakout sessions covering disaster related topics.

 

Full agenda: http://www.joplinproud.com/joplin-disaster-recovery-summit/agenda/

 

 

Joplin Memorial Marathon is on the 21st.... A community picnic will be held Sunday the 22nd, along with Joplin High School graduation (creepy that it's on Sunday the 22nd, just like the tornado) and it'll all end with a Memorial Service for those lost in the tornado.

 

http://www.joplinproud.com/

Was thinking about you today.  Popped into the forum to see if this thread was still alive and well.  I see that it is.

I agree, it is hard to believe that it has been five years.  Hope you are doing well.

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Thank you Beau.

 

417 magazine has written an article about Joplin's recovery over the last 5 years:

 

http://www.417mag.com/417-Magazine/May-2016/Winds-of-Change/

 

Also an interesting article from back in January from the AP:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/joplin-rebounds-strongly-after-tornado/article_cfac876e-4151-5bfd-ad2a-69256129db88.html

 

"Joplin’s population of about 50,000 people dropped by 1.3 percent within a year of the tornado. Many wrongly expected that slide to continue; U.S. Census Bureau figures from May showed the city’s population has risen to 51,316."

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Thank you Beau.

 

417 magazine has written an article about Joplin's recovery over the last 5 years:

 

http://www.417mag.com/417-Magazine/May-2016/Winds-of-Change/

 

Also an interesting article from back in January from the AP:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/joplin-rebounds-strongly-after-tornado/article_cfac876e-4151-5bfd-ad2a-69256129db88.html

 

"Joplin’s population of about 50,000 people dropped by 1.3 percent within a year of the tornado. Many wrongly expected that slide to continue; U.S. Census Bureau figures from May showed the city’s population has risen to 51,316."

I'm sure they'll get hit again.  They're right in the middle of tornado alley.  Oklahoma City area is due for another big one.

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10 days until it's been 5 years so local news is starting to ramp up the tornado stories.

 

This story I can relate to because I had PTSD symptoms and know of many people who had similar symptoms as well. The story describes the symptoms quite well......

 

 

"Our body determines a threat or a memory of a threat," psychologist Patricia McGregor said. A sound, smell, or sight can become a trigger, reminding a person of a time and place.

 

"And so our heart rate is going to increase. Our breathing is going to become more shallow. Stomach stops digesting. All of those things to prepare us to survive," McGregor said. "But most of the time when a clap of thunder hits it doesn't threaten our survival. And yet we remember when it did."

 

For me, the sound of rolling thunder over the last 3-4 years has been rough as it would take me back to that day and I'd experience the symptoms listed, it was pretty much like a panic attack. Even adding a tornado shelter to the house didn't stop that fear. Even on days when I knew there wasn't a chance of a tornado, my brain would tell me that one would just drop out of the sky unnoticed if I heard rolling thunder. I never really had that fear before the Joplin tornado. Thunder (even distant) will wake me up from sleep now and I'll turn the TV on or check Radarscope to see if it's warned. Luckily those symptoms have really faded and I don't experience that fear as much. I'm not sure what changed, I guess it just took some time.

 

For other people, they still experience PTSD symptoms. Someone I know can't go to an automatic car wash because it reminds them of the sound of being inside the tornado. Someone else I know leaves the area completely on days when there are chances of tornadoes, driving hours and hours away from the area before the storms form. 

 

This man, who was trapped under a wall in Home Depot and was injured, still struggles with chronic PTSD.

 

http://www.fox14tv.com/story/31960536/tornado-ptsd

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10 days until it's been 5 years so local news is starting to ramp up the tornado stories.

 

This story I can relate to because I had PTSD symptoms and know of many people who had similar symptoms as well. The story describes the symptoms quite well......

 

 

For me, the sound of rolling thunder over the last 3-4 years has been rough as it would take me back to that day and I'd experience the symptoms listed, it was pretty much like a panic attack. Even adding a tornado shelter to the house didn't stop that fear. Even on days when I knew there wasn't a chance of a tornado, my brain would tell me that one would just drop out of the sky unnoticed if I heard rolling thunder. I never really had that fear before the Joplin tornado. Thunder (even distant) will wake me up from sleep now and I'll turn the TV on or check Radarscope to see if it's warned. Luckily those symptoms have really faded and I don't experience that fear as much. I'm not sure what changed, I guess it just took some time.

 

For other people, they still experience PTSD symptoms. Someone I know can't go to an automatic car wash because it reminds them of the sound of being inside the tornado. Someone else I know leaves the area completely on days when there are chances of tornadoes, driving hours and hours away from the area before the storms form. 

 

This man, who was trapped under a wall in Home Depot and was injured, still struggles with chronic PTSD.

 

http://www.fox14tv.com/story/31960536/tornado-ptsd

This is something that I think is severely overlooked when it comes to natural disasters. Whenever I hear about "Lucky" people who survive stuff like that, I just feel bad for them, and the fact that they have to go through the recovery process. I wouldn't be surprised if there are many PTSD sufferers who wind up wishing that the traumatic experience had taken their lives after all, because it sounds like absolute hell. :(

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On a happier note, this story is about Chad Crilley.

 

Chad was 12 years old at the time of the Joplin tornado and lived in San Diego, California. He had a passion for meteorology. He wrote an email to a bunch of meteorologists in the Plains because he wanted to see some severe weather. Doug Heady (local met) responded and told Chad and his mom when they should come out to see some severe weather. They arrived on May 22nd. 

 

Chad and his mom were narrowly missed by the tornado, and the next few days featured more severe weather so Chad got to see what it was like working on-air during a severe outbreak, he even did some reports for his hometown station on the Joplin tornado.

 

5 years later...He's graduating high school now, and will be attending Eastern Illinois University, where he will be pursuing a meteorology degree.

 

http://www.koamtv.com/category/164379/video?clipId=12433075&autostart=false

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10 days until it's been 5 years so local news is starting to ramp up the tornado stories.

This story I can relate to because I had PTSD symptoms and know of many people who had similar symptoms as well. The story describes the symptoms quite well......

For me, the sound of rolling thunder over the last 3-4 years has been rough as it would take me back to that day and I'd experience the symptoms listed, it was pretty much like a panic attack. Even adding a tornado shelter to the house didn't stop that fear. Even on days when I knew there wasn't a chance of a tornado, my brain would tell me that one would just drop out of the sky unnoticed if I heard rolling thunder. I never really had that fear before the Joplin tornado. Thunder (even distant) will wake me up from sleep now and I'll turn the TV on or check Radarscope to see if it's warned. Luckily those symptoms have really faded and I don't experience that fear as much. I'm not sure what changed, I guess it just took some time.

For other people, they still experience PTSD symptoms. Someone I know can't go to an automatic car wash because it reminds them of the sound of being inside the tornado. Someone else I know leaves the area completely on days when there are chances of tornadoes, driving hours and hours away from the area before the storms form.

This man, who was trapped under a wall in Home Depot and was injured, still struggles with chronic PTSD.

http://www.fox14tv.com/story/31960536/tornado-ptsd

Can't imagine being so close to total devastation as you were. You were in the outer fringes of the tornado IIRC?

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Can't imagine being so close to total devastation as you were. You were in the outer fringes of the tornado IIRC?

 

Yep, in the EF-1 part, barely. I think it was everything factored in. The waiting and listening as the roar got louder, waiting for it to destroy the house. The sound of the air being sucked in the garage door, the loud bang of debris against the house. I never figured out what dented in the steel garage door, or what dented the satellite dish and broke the neighbors chain length fence. Part of someone's ceiling, (with a/c vents still attached) was located half in the street and in someone's yard just down the street.

 

Seeing all the destruction that night just 3 blocks away is what really brought home the realization that there was a decent chance I wouldn't be here or I would have been seriously injured if it had been just 3 blocks closer. A quick glance at all the damage in those areas gave enough evidence that the walk-in closet I was in would not have fared well. A better location would have been a hallway where 4 rooms connect and where a water heater is located. 

 

 

Anyway, this is what I wrote around 5 years ago when I returned here about (4 days?)after the tornado:

 

This is what happened as I recall, the times may not be correct and it may not have completely happened how I remember it but this is what I remember.

We are very used to having tornado warnings in Joplin. The first instinct of everyone when they hear the sirens is to jump up and go outside to look for it. It's even a joke between me and Wx24/7 that once a storm enters the Springfield, MO CWA, they'll issue a tornado warning for it no matter what.

I had been watching the HRRR all day Sunday and noticed that it was developing the very last storm over Joplin but nothing farther south. The helicity was scary crazy as well. I thought this was maybe just the HRRR being flaky until I saw the storm develop over SE KS and that it was moving SE. 

As I remember it, the parent supercell storm that was moving SE developed a couple of cells on it's SE flank. These storms went from nothing but a small blip to a storm in no time at all. SPC mesoanalysis was showing 5000 SBCAPE. The last images other than the base velocity radar image I saw was the LFC and LCL heights, which were both 1000 over the area. 

As the storm(s) were approaching, I heard constant rolling thunder and lightning. I was watching the initial parent thunderstorm, it had an unorganized couplet that was rather large and I knew it would slide by to the north of me. South of that another couplet was developing on the second 'blip' that had popped up. This one was farther south than the first one but was still really unorganized. I do believe both were Tornado warned. Then suddenly a third storm rapidly developed south of those storms. A tornado warning was issued that included my area and this was the one that produced the EF-5 tornado.

I watched it go from no couplet to a big bad couplet right over me in a few minutes time. ( I just watched the video that someone posted that showed how quickly the tornado went from a tiny rope to a giant wedge and I'm amazed.) I looked out the window to the west and the sky was pretty much black, much like how it looks when the sun is out at your location and there is a storm some distance away, only this time it was cloudy where I was. There was a lowering which was probably part of the wall cloud. It gave off an orangish hazy looking color against the black sky.

The sirens had gone off for one of the other tornado warnings, but they were going off a second time as well. It was then I heard what I thought was rolling thunder... only this time, it got louder. 

I listened to the 'rolling thunder' get louder for about 5-10 seconds before I figured out that it was not thunder. I looked up towards where I heard the sound but the blinds were closed so I decided to get in the only safe place which was a closet before the windows blew out. As I turned on the closet light, the power went out. I was not really expecting an EF-5.

The sound was exactly like what people compare it to, a freight train. It was a loud roar, and it had times where it almost sounded like it was growling. The winds at my location were from the north or northwest because I heard the air screaming in the garage door, it screamed, stopped for a few seconds and then screamed again and then the roar got quieter so I ventured out. 

I looked into the rest of the house, no glass was broken, still had a roof. I decided to look outside and despite having a tree that fell over, most of the other trees had no damage. It was now foggy outside though. I suspected I had just been through a weak tornado. I went outside and the first thing I smelled when I made it outside was the smell of freshly cut trees or wood. I thought that was a little strange, but some neighbors trees had broken limbs so I thought it was from that. The roof had sustained some shingle damage but nothing really bad. 

I came back inside and I turned on a battery powered radio because I was wondering what the rest of the city was getting or what had happened. It was then I heard that St. Johns Hospital was 'leveled' (a report that was not true, although it had sustained heavy heavy damage) I was like.. whoa that's not good. It was around that time I heard firetruck/ambulance sirens. These sirens ran constantly from right after the tornado hit at around 5:40 PM until midnight. They also ran a lot the next day as well.

I walked down the street, heading to a local church (there's almost one on every corner here) and as I was walking that way I noticed a lot of trees down on just the next street over and the damage got progressively worse. People's privacy fences had been blown over, but this was nothing compared to what I saw at the end of the block. As I was walking I noticed the smell of natural gas, it was getting stronger the closer I got but I just had to see. People had gathered at the church and it was being used as some sort of local triage for minor wounds. I kept walking until I reached the end of the block where everything to the south of the intersection was completely destroyed. I looked down the street and I didn't recognize anything and I realized I could see much much much farther than I could before. There was a lot of traffic that was being turned around there and I didn't want to interfere with the rescue work so I returned home.

I didn't sleep at all that Sunday night, the days events, the sounds, the thought that I wouldn't probably be here if the tornado was three blocks closer, all kept replaying in my head. 

I let the rescuers do their thing on Monday and it was raining most of the day, but on early Tuesday morning I walked back down there and down the street, and I almost could not stop walking. The entire area looked like it was a landfill. On my left, a car parked in the 'garage' where a house would have been but there was nothing but a slab there, water gushing out of a broken pipe. On my right, another street where nothing remained but debris. On the ground there was a St. Johns medical braclet from someone.

The streets were marked by wooden signs spray painted with the street name. "Haz gas" was spray painted on a piece of wood next to a gas meter, a couple of guys pulled up to check and make sure it wasn't leaking still, it was, so one of them phoned the gas company to tell them it was still leaking. The area was being patrolled by police officers from the area and from other counties farther away, but they didn't have much to say or didn't care I was there since I was on foot. 

I ran into a lady who had brought a camera to take pictures, she told me that the State trooper guarding the intersection had told her that she had to see it. Pictures don't really do it justice though, people who have lived here all their lives and are older get turned around and lost because there are no landmarks left since it's just a debris field. It reminds me of a post-apocalyptic scene but it's real life. I probably stood on top of a hill and looked around for about 10 minutes at everything, how far I could see and where the damage path was then I returned home.

I decided to go back on Wednesday, a little later in the day and people had returned home to gather their belongings. There were also rescue workers in the area. I saw a boy and his mother on the 2nd floor of what was left on their house. It didn't exactly look safe but nobody was stopping them. I heard an insurance adjustor talking to a woman as another woman was inside what was left of their house attempting to gather whatever she could. I saw a man sitting on the back deck of his destroyed home, holding his head. I looked down and saw that a bunch of debris had gathered down in this valley and rescue workers were there, attempting to find people in the rubble I guess. I felt uneasy and like I was intruding so I decided to return home.

The last trip down there I took this evening. They had cleared away a bunch of the trees. The road was blocked by electrical trucks working on the electric lines, I didn't want to disturb them so I just watched them work. There was other equipment working in the area as well, no heavy equipment yet though.

There have been helicopters flying over for the past few days. I don't remember what day it was but there were 2 blackhawk copters from the National Guard on patrol then two A-10's flew by. I'm not really sure what the point of all that was and most of my neighbors thought it was really stupid. It's not like they were protecting us from some kind of invasion or something.

The city has a curfew in the disaster zone from 9 PM to 6 AM. You can't be in the area after that time. They were going to make people get permits, but they ran out of permits pretty quickly so they just decided to beef up security. 

 

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The Joplin Globe has a big story today about Joplin's recovery.

http://www.joplinglobe.com/news/local_news/six-miles-of-recovery-the-journey-back/article_5cd49f43-5a76-5316-9aed-b6a6362e41f6.html

 

But one corner of Joplin remains untouched. The bedroom of Will Norton — one of the first victims of the storm — remains as he left it five years ago, right down to the socks sitting underneath the desk.

 

 

 

Joplin Globe youtube video of pictures of some of the areas after the tornado and drone footage of what they look like today.

 

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I am still amazed every time I see the destruction of that tornado. Joplin has made an amazing recovery. Great video footage of before and after. Prayers continuing for you all..

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KC Star started their coverage of Joplin up by republishing the stories they did right after the tornado. They have added some new stuff though:

 

They have written a fair article that talks about Joplin's successes and failures. 

http://www.kansascity.com/news/special-reports/joplin/article78154942.html

 

This mom is looking for her 'real, living angel' that stood by her side the night of the tornado while she was searching for her daughter:

http://www.kansascity.com/news/state/missouri/article78135292.html

 

 

UPDATE: Found her:

http://www.kansascity.com/news/state/missouri/article78348047.html

 

 

 

Probably the most interesting section is a set of 'mini stories' from people impacted by the storm, now 5 years later...... The best one is probably Steven Weersing. He's the kid who basically had his entire chest rebuilt by surgeons after he got the flesh eating fungus. Sounds like his story could be made into a Lifetime movie or something....

 

http://projects.kansascity.com/2016/joplin/vignettes/

 

 

 

Before/After pictures that are from after the tornado and now. The next to last picture on this page is from the neighborhood where I posted many pictures from in this thread. Hard to believe at one point between the destruction and rebuilding, there was nothing there.

 

http://projects.kansascity.com/2016/joplin/before-and-after/

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Gary Bandy, former Chief Meteorologist at KSNF in Joplin will be on TWC Wxgeeks this Sunday:

https://www.wunderground.com/blog/DrShepherdWxGeeks/after-the-storm-stories-from-the-joplin-and-pilger-tornadoes

 

Joplin was featured on the TornadoTalk podcast.

http://www.tornadotalk.com/

 

Future football player had his life changed by the tornado/PTSD.

http://www.kspr.com/content/news/JOPLIN-TORNADO-Still-recovering-five-years-later-380056951.html

 

 

EDIT: Helicopter today flying around the tornado disaster area taking footage 5 years later of the area.

 

EDIT 2: Governor's office has released a website that deals with Joplin's recovery over the last 5 years....

 

http://governor.mo.gov/joplinrising

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Here's an update on a couple of kids stories that I remember quite vividly. 

 

Mason Lillard (10 at time of tornado) and Lage Grigsby (14 at time of tornado) are cousins. They were at Home Depot in their grandparents truck when the tornado hit. The truck was thrown from the parking lot into part of the store.

 

Mason had been impaled by a metal rod that had pierced the truck, destroyed part of her shoulder blade, pierced part of her lung, separated some ribs and pinned her in the truck. First responders  cut the top and bottom of the rod so they could get her out of the truck and sent her to the hospital with the bar still inside her. She's has 12 surgeries over the last 5 years and is basically fine. Plays softball and is a cheerleader at school.

 

http://www.fourstateshomepage.com/news/doctor-and-patient-reunite-five-years-after-the-joplin-tornado

 

 

Lage's injuries were far more extensive. He had a massive head injury and was oozing brain matter at the scene. First responders didn't think he would survive the ride to the hospital. At the hospital they 'black tagged' him (meaning they thought he was dead or would die) until a nurse saw him and put her hands on him, he opened an eye and let out a massive scream, so they rushed him to get a brain scan. Doctors ended up removing nearly 1/4 of his brain. They sewed two pieces of his skull into his abdomen for safe keeping. His recovery time was longer and he basically had to relearn a lot of things. His right hand is paralyzed so he had to become a lefty, but he can talk, walk, use a cell phone, do chores, and even drive... 5 years later.

 

http://www.kspr.com/content/news/JOPLIN-TORNADO-Lage-Grigsbys-recovery-through-the-years-380208531.html

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Desiree was also someone I posted stories about. She was trapped inside Dillons supermarket and had a crush injury, she was also pregnant at the time and medical professionals thought she had lost the baby.

 

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Her words, 5 years later........

 

Five years ago I was at the Joplin Dillons to get groceries for a date night with Matthew. I was in the first trimester of my pregnancy with Leo and tired to boot. Little did I know my life was going to change forever. I was in the ground zero path of what is now known as one of the deadliest tornadoes in the United States. I happened to also be the only person (and pregnant) in the front produce cooler that ended up trapped and suffered a crush injury (the medical diagnosis I learned is: rhabdomyolysis). There are days where I can recall what happened at the Joplin Dillons so vividly and I have days... lots of days...where I want to forget this experience ever happened to my family.

 

It has been encouraging to see all of the stories on media outlets of other survivors. People who should have died, and miraculously didn't. I like to think my son Leo is one of those survivors, although, I'm sure he'll never understand the magnitude of him being a "tornado survivor" means. With steel and concrete crushing my body and leaving me breathless I should have suffered a miscarriage or worse. Even medical professionals thought I lost him. I felt the same relief from the literal tons of weight on me when I was pulled out of the rubble by the Carthage Fire Department as when I found out Leo was still "viable." Leo is still as strong, stubborn, and free-spirited as he was when I was pregnant with him.

 

Sometimes I wonder if anyone who recalls my story wonders how myself or my family is doing. There are so many lives affected by May 22, 2011 it can be easy to lose track. After debating about it... I decided to take a moment to reflect and provide an update. It's been a roller coaster. PTSD comes in all forms. It took me years to finally conquer a lot of my anxieties. It took me years to stop being mad at how the tornado changed me. I don't want to be remembered as the pregnant woman underneath a building. I want to be remembered as the woman who fought hard enough to change circumstances. Because sometimes, with enough determination (or being entirely stubborn in my case. Gee. I wonder where Leo gets it.) you can change circumstances. I shouldn't be walking and here I am.

 

Leo is almost 4 and a half. He turns 5 in December. He has a little sister now named Emma who is 2. They are best friends. It melts my heart watch them interact with each other. I also have a cat named Cheeto and a bunny named Cinnabun.

 

I have found my calling in the social entertainment industry. I am now an Associate Product Manager and Cash Shop Manager for an online community I have personally been a member of for almost 12 years. I'm excited to get to fly out to San Jose regularly to be physically there with my team. Next week I fly out to San Jose for one of those trips. I love being able to provide for my family in more ways now.

 

I want to take this time to thank everyone along the way who helped us recover. Thank you to the groups who donated furniture, clothing, and food when we lost it all. I want to thank the ASPCA for finding my beloved Freya when she was gone for days. I want to thank the media outlets who spoke to me years ago and used my story to bring hope to others. I want to thank the Carthage Fire Department for saving me & Leo. I want to thank the woman who flagged the Carthage Fire Department right after the tornado hit. I want to thank my husband for staying with me the entire ordeal. Most people would have ran and he stayed. I want to thank my friends & family who understand I'm not entirely crazy when I hear loud noises and my ears perk up.

 

After the tornado happened I wasn't sure what life would be like. I didn't know what life was like to be a tornado survivor. I am living proof life can be beautiful after the storm... no matter the storm. If you know someone struggling please share my story with them. You can make the best out of every situation and everything will eventually be okay. I promise.

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