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Devastating tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri

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Sirens can make several different tones depending off if they are computerized or mechanical. The sirens in Joplin are mechanical, so they can make three tones:

Steady

Up and down

Fast up and down

Steady is an old cold war tone meaning "alert", you know, be on alert something is possible... such as if a tornado warning is issued based on radar per se, then "steady" should be "attention everyone"

Up and down, or fast up and down, which during the cold war meant "attack", or an attack is imminent or occurring. So, if a tornado is spotted or reported the "attack/up and down" tone should be sounded on the sirens. Merrill Wisconsin does this apparently, in all the videos of the tornado from May 2011, or maybe April, whenever that MDT/PDS watch "busted" in WI, that city of Merrill did a steady tone when the warning went out, then as the tornado was moving into the city they did the up and down tone.

Computerized sirens have a wide variety of tones, maybe six or more, plus voice capabilities. Sometimes in cities with talking computer tornado sirens it will be a high-low tone followed by a message "tornado warning seek shelter immediately" it's pretty creepy.

We put in somethinhg similar at the school I work at. wehave canned warnings and can create our own warnings on the fly.

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I have been working on raising funds though my church this week. I put together some of the pictures and video that I found here and else where. I used the accounts of Jomo and Joplinmet (with their permissions) to put together a short video.

We take a special offering for disasters. during my presentation, my wife and my daughter witnessed a lady who took a $10 bill out of her wallet and after the presentation she put back the $10 bill and pulled out $100 bill. the biggest reaction I received was for the before and after pictures of the apartment complex.

Nice, thank you for doing that. :)

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For me these two videos tell the story of Joplin's terror.

First one shows the experience riding it out (audio only though), second one shows what actually happened to the gas station. Incredible that they survived a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado (I'd say this is EF-4 / EF-5 damage, the twisted and mangled steel is beyond incredible).

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I don't know, it looked pretty real to me. I have seen this happen before in the past. You have to remember the tree pulls apart, it isn't like it just pushes through. I can't say it 100%, but once I saw it in person it is hard not to believe it. A hole couldn't have been drilled, it was closed back on it. Like I said I can't say forsure but I have seen this before with other tornadoes.

I know trees... the bark is smooth and flawless and shows no evidence of cracking or being bent... the odds of it splitting or pulling apart and then magically sealing back up around the hose with no obvious stress fractures are pretty much zero. The hose would prevent the crack from being able to close back up so tightly.

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Nice, thank you for doing that. :)

I want to edit the video and include more of your comments and more of the pictures. I am able to compare the Joplin area with the Wyoming valley area, both are similar in size population wise.

I truely belive that if everyone does a little bit to help, you will have more help than you can imagine.

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An amazing story from a stormchaser/doctor from Florida who was on the storm and helped out at Freeman hospital. Some of it is a bit 'gory' and he does talk about having to make the decision to let someone die so others could be helped.

http://stormdoctor.b...011-joplin.html

This may be the most real and disturbing literature I have read with regards to the events that unfolded that day. For all the fascinating aspects of severe weather, the human aspect of loss and death is something that gets separated from science, statistics and the curiosity we all share. We all pour over "the incident" as this thing of wonder and amazement. We all live vicariously through those that experience natural disasters first hand. But in the telling of a personal experience, such as this one, you feel the pull on that place in your guts that makes you a human being. Thanks for posting this, Jomo. Glad you and yours survived unscathed, physically, at least.

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I have been working on raising funds though my church this week. I put together some of the pictures and video that I found here and else where. I used the accounts of Jomo and Joplinmet (with their permissions) to put together a short video.

We take a special offering for disasters. during my presentation, my wife and my daughter witnessed a lady who took a $10 bill out of her wallet and after the presentation she put back the $10 bill and pulled out $100 bill. the biggest reaction I received was for the before and after pictures of the apartment complex.

Great work Rick

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Town meeting tonight. People picked up the right of passage papers to allow the gov't contractors on their property in order to remove debris. They have until June 15th to turn them in. Only 20,000 of the 3,000,000 cubic yards of debris has been picked up. In 10-12 days, temporary housing will be here.

I was in the disaster area around sunset tonight and that was probably the most creepy thing I have ever experienced. There was nobody in sight, no birds chirping, no sign of life at all. Mix that with the sign of smashed up cars, destroyed houses and piles of debris and it didn't seem real. It was like being in a post-apocalyptic movie.

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Town meeting tonight. People picked up the right of passage papers to allow the gov't contractors on their property in order to remove debris. They have until June 15th to turn them in. Only 20,000 of the 3,000,000 cubic yards of debris has been picked up. In 10-12 days, temporary housing will be here.

I was in the disaster area around sunset tonight and that was probably the most creepy thing I have ever experienced. There was nobody in sight, no birds chirping, no sign of life at all. Mix that with the sign of smashed up cars, destroyed houses and piles of debris and it didn't seem real. It was like being in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Such a vivid depiction of what you saw last night.. actually gave me the creeps just reading it. Maybe you should think about writing about your experience there. You are very visual with your words and I think it may help so many people understand the unimaginable horror there. Thanks for sharing so much of your world there. We all really appreciate it.

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Read this morning that another person has died due to injuries. Sad testament to the violent nature of this event. Have not read any estimates as to how many are still hospitalized though.

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Town meeting tonight. People picked up the right of passage papers to allow the gov't contractors on their property in order to remove debris. They have until June 15th to turn them in. Only 20,000 of the 3,000,000 cubic yards of debris has been picked up. In 10-12 days, temporary housing will be here.

I was in the disaster area around sunset tonight and that was probably the most creepy thing I have ever experienced. There was nobody in sight, no birds chirping, no sign of life at all. Mix that with the sign of smashed up cars, destroyed houses and piles of debris and it didn't seem real. It was like being in a post-apocalyptic movie.

Any estimates on number of people left homeless?

I wonder how many will never return...

I am so sad about what has happened to Joplin, Tuscaloosa, Western Mass, etc etc etc. What a horrible year

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Any estimates on number of people left homeless?

I wonder how many will never return...

I am so sad about what has happened to Joplin, Tuscaloosa, Western Mass, etc etc etc. What a horrible year

No offense but I do not think Springfield tornado should compared to those other two events. It was a major event for this area but there is no comparision to the loss of life and degree of destructive that occurred.

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Read this morning that another person has died due to injuries. Sad testament to the violent nature of this event. Have not read any estimates as to how many are still hospitalized though.

Ugh. So that brings it right back to the 142. Just still hard to believe that nearly 150 people died in this thing. And 3 million cubic yards of debris? -Sounds like something from a bombed German city back in World War Two! Hard to fathom it all.

I can't bring myself to read the latest dr./responder account-the first one was traumatic enough to read.

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Does anyone know when the NWS will come out with the complete, detailed survey of the event?

I imagine we'll need to be patient-- an event of this magnitude requires a sh*tload of time to piece together and analyze-- but I was just curious if anyone knew. I'm particularly interested in what the max wind estimate ends up being-- to see if they go over the 210-mph benchmark we've seen with a couple of other EF5s.

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Does anyone know when the NWS will come out with the complete, detailed survey of the event?

I imagine we'll need to be patient-- an event of this magnitude requires a sh*tload of time to piece together and analyze-- but I was just curious if anyone knew. I'm particularly interested in what the max wind estimate ends up being-- to see if they go over the 210-mph benchmark we've seen with a couple of other EF5s.

I was going to include this in my last response and thought better of it, and now here you come and do it for me. lol. I didn't want to seem insensitive given the other stuff I was discussing, but yeah, I still want to know that info too. I just think it has to be over 210...given the amount of destruction and the death toll, plus that nine story hospital shifting on it's foundation(and being built to withstand 300mph winds and being not in the middle of the damage path)

Are they still looking through the area to look for any signs of damage that would likely to have resulted from winds in excess of 210 mph?-I am not sure what that would be though, actually..

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I was going to include this in my last response and thought better of it, and now here you come and do it for me. lol. I didn't want to seem insensitive given the other stuff I was discussing, but yeah, I still want to know that info too. I just think it has to be over 210...given the amount of destruction and the death toll, plus that nine story hospital shifting on it's foundation(and being built to withstand 300mph winds and being not in the middle of the damage path)

Are they still looking through the area to look for any signs of damage that would likely to have resulted from winds in excess of 210 mph?-I am not sure what that would be though, actually..

I didn't feel uncomfortable because this is a weather forum and of course we're going to analyze these events from a technical standpoint.

However, if the folks who were affected by this disaster (JoMO, Joplinmet, etc.) would like, perhaps we can make a separate thread for technical analysis, so this one can be more about disaster recovery and human-interest topics. It's a big enough event that perhaps it needs separate threads for these subtopics.

I'm cool either way. Anyone have a preference?

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No offense but I do not think Springfield tornado should compared to those other two events. It was a major event for this area but there is no comparision to the loss of life and degree of destructive that occurred.

Obviously.

There have been a number of storms in other regions that have done worse than that this year in terms of damage/lives etc.

Could not name all of them. Joplin is just about as bad as I can remember hearing of/seeing...

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I didn't feel uncomfortable because this is a weather forum and of course we're going to analyze these events from a technical standpoint.

However, if the folks who were affected by this disaster (JoMO, Joplinmet, etc.) would like, perhaps we can make a separate thread for technical analysis, so this one can be more about disaster recovery and human-interest topics. It's a big enough event that perhaps it needs separate threads for these subtopics.

I'm cool either way. Anyone have a preference?

I wouldn't have felt uncomfortable either, except for including it with the other stuff I posted. I was thinking of making a separate post about it, and then saw that you had already done just that. I just did not want to combine the two(the technical aspects and the human impact stuff) in the same post.

To me this is just a huge historical event-the deadliest single tornado in 64 years(probably since 1936 since the Woodward tornado was probably separate tornadoes imo)- just an extraordinary event and I want to know as much as I can about it. No single community has suffered this kind of loss of life since Tupelo and Gainesville in 1936-75 years! And it was not a 'mass casualty at a single facility' thing-it was just a massive tornado tearing through a town. Why was it so deadly-was it just that much stronger? I think it just has to be. Especially when so many other towns have been hit by large tornadoes since the thirties and nothing really approaches this one except for maybe Woodward and a few in the fifties.

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Does anyone know when the NWS will come out with the complete, detailed survey of the event?

I imagine we'll need to be patient-- an event of this magnitude requires a sh*tload of time to piece together and analyze-- but I was just curious if anyone knew. I'm particularly interested in what the max wind estimate ends up being-- to see if they go over the 210-mph benchmark we've seen with a couple of other EF5s.

I'm not sure about the detailed survey but I know the Picher, OK service assessment from the May 10th 2008 tornado has Oct 2009 on it's pages. I would think that there would be something out before a year and a half passes... but it is the government. I know that NWS/NOAA was going to have 3 mets here yesterday I believe.. to study 'what went wrong' and how people responded to the warnings, where they took shelter, etc... They will probably be here for a few days gathering data since there were so many people in the path of the tornado.

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I wouldn't have felt uncomfortable either, except for including it with the other stuff I posted. I was thinking of making a separate post about it, and then saw that you had already done just that. I just did not want to combine the two(the technical aspects and the human impact stuff) in the same post.

To me this is just a huge historical event-the deadliest single tornado in 64 years(probably since 1936 since the Woodward tornado was probably separate tornadoes imo)- just an extraordinary event and I want to know as much as I can about it. No single community has suffered this kind of loss of life since Tupelo and Gainesville in 1936-75 years! And it was not a 'mass casualty at a single facility' thing-it was just a massive tornado tearing through a town. Why was it so deadly-was it just that much stronger? I think it just has to be. Especially when so many other towns have been hit by large tornadoes since the thirties and nothing really approaches this one except for maybe Woodward and a few in the fifties.

The death toll is now 143 after another victim died in a Springfield hospital yesterday afternoon.

The human aspect is part of the disaster as well as the technical aspect. People are sad that they've lost everything but they are happy to be alive. The only thing that really bothered me was some of the out of town volunteers here are treating it like it's summer camp or something and I don't think they were understanding that it's whats left of peoples lives. The vast majority of volunteers are not like that though.

Many of the homes that were hit were older (20-30+ years) but well built wood structures. They were probably constructed to withstand 90-100 MPH winds or so. However, even newer houses and businesses did not fare that well either. One recommendation is hurricane straps, which are steel straps that bolt the roof to the walls, those are good up to 140 MPH and are fairly cheap. Those would have helped in some instances but the areas still in the direct path would still probably have been destroyed or heavily damaged.

I think some things that the NWS assessment is going to find in no particular order:

1. They will find that the area suffers from 'warning fatigue'. We have a lot of tornado warnings where nothing happens. This makes people complacent. Several people I have talked to just thought it was the normal run-of-the-mill tornado warning where you go to your closet and sit until the storm passes.

2. People don't know what the sirens mean. They used to be for tornadoes only, but after we had high winds several years ago, they now set them off for 75 MPH winds or higher expected. They typically sound them for a short time, then stop sounding them. People don't know what it means when they stop sounding.... they think it means the storm or threat is over. It also probably doesn't help that every Monday at 10 AM in the Spring they were tested if the weather was nice. This probably caused people to get used to the sound.

3. The tornado became rain wrapped very quickly (it wasn't in my area) and was hard to see. It also had a 'rolling thunder' sound until it was practically on top of you. It had been rolling thunder off and on for a couple of hours due to the storms in the area. It took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn't rolling thunder. Seeing the couplet on radar and the power flickers were my only other visual cues since I did not have enough time to look outside.

4. It formed just west of Joplin, this did not give many adequate time to hear there was a tornado on the ground. We rely on spotter reports west of town in the counties to our west and southwest. If there is a tornado on the ground to the west or southwest, people take it seriously. You could also see the confusion on the local news channels about what was actually going on.

5. Lack of basements or people not using their basements. A lot of houses do not have basements around here due to the high water table and rocky soil. My neighbor has a basement and his sump pump runs 24/7 even when it doesn't rain. My ex-gf's house had a crawl space but they took shelter in an interior bathroom because they did not think anything would happen. I've talked to others that did the same thing.

6. The complex storm situation with multiple areas of rotation and the speed of how quickly the tornado developed and the confusion stemming from that. There were three areas of rotation, one large one with the parent T-storm well to the north of Joplin, another that quickly developed north of Joplin near Carl Junction, that may have hit the northern part of Joplin or it may have went between Joplin and CJ. And then the third one that wasn't impressive until the 5:24-5:25 radar update. It became apparent at the 5:29 update that this was probably producing at least funnel clouds. By 5:39 the tornado was on the ground just south of me. The NWS had Joplin covered in two tornado warnings I believe. One for the rotation near Carl Junction and one that was issued a little bit later for the southern part of Joplin that eventually produced the tornado. I think there was some confusion about where the tornado actually was due to the SVS that was issued that stated a tornado was spotted 6 miles NE of Galena and was moving NE when in fact the tornado was on the ground SE of Galena. That put an entirely different area in the tornado path. I believe it was corrected at 5:42.

The warning can be found here:

http://www.americanwx.com/bb/index.php/topic/18858-devastating-tornado-strikes-joplin-missouri/page__st__620__p__721723#entry721723

I would like to think this wasn't a factor at all, but Joplin is very 'religious'. There are a lot of churches here. People also believe that God will protect them from harm. I've heard many people say that actually. Some of the older people say 'If it's your time to go, it's your time to go', meaning they would rely on God and not really do anything to protect themselves. I would like to think that people sought shelter the best way possible.

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STUNNING photographs - not sure if everyone can see these?

http://www.stormtrac...LOW-LOADING!%29

Just makes me shake my head and wonder how wind can cause so much extreme damage. Incredible photography.

Death toll is now 145. I think that moves it into 7th?

Yeah, it's just... crazy... seeing all these places I've known all my life just turned into rubble.

Panoramic pics:

1st picture is the area behind Irving Elementary school. 2nd picture is unrecognizable. 3rd picture is just east of St. Johns hospital.

The picture of "God Bless Joplin, Down Not Out" was taken right by Irving. That was a power substation all bent up and you never used to be able to see St. Johns from there.

The 2nd vid is a building that has been just about everything. An IGA, a bar, and was the Salvation Army place that just moved there not long ago.

Edit: I tried to compare the pic of Irving and the substation to Google but the area he's standing in is covered in trees and houses on the Google picture.

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I still can't get over the duration of the actual tornado. i mean, you usally see a tornado cross a road in 10 seconds, or other videos it's moving fast, and you only see a couple seconds of it in 1 spot. But between the convenience store video, and some others, and hearing that it lasted up to 2-3 minutes in some places is just unfathomable.

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The death toll is now 143 after another victim died in a Springfield hospital yesterday afternoon.

The human aspect is part of the disaster as well as the technical aspect. People are sad that they've lost everything but they are happy to be alive. The only thing that really bothered me was some of the out of town volunteers here are treating it like it's summer camp or something and I don't think they were understanding that it's whats left of peoples lives. The vast majority of volunteers are not like that though.

Many of the homes that were hit were older (20-30+ years) but well built wood structures. They were probably constructed to withstand 90-100 MPH winds or so. However, even newer houses and businesses did not fare that well either. One recommendation is hurricane straps, which are steel straps that bolt the roof to the walls, those are good up to 140 MPH and are fairly cheap. Those would have helped in some instances but the areas still in the direct path would still probably have been destroyed or heavily damaged.

I think some things that the NWS assessment is going to find in no particular order:

1. They will find that the area suffers from 'warning fatigue'. We have a lot of tornado warnings where nothing happens. This makes people complacent. Several people I have talked to just thought it was the normal run-of-the-mill tornado warning where you go to your closet and sit until the storm passes.

2. People don't know what the sirens mean. They used to be for tornadoes only, but after we had high winds several years ago, they now set them off for 75 MPH winds or higher expected. They typically sound them for a short time, then stop sounding them. People don't know what it means when they stop sounding.... they think it means the storm or threat is over. It also probably doesn't help that every Monday at 10 AM in the Spring they were tested if the weather was nice. This probably caused people to get used to the sound.

3. The tornado became rain wrapped very quickly (it wasn't in my area) and was hard to see. It also had a 'rolling thunder' sound until it was practically on top of you. It had been rolling thunder off and on for a couple of hours due to the storms in the area. It took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn't rolling thunder. Seeing the couplet on radar and the power flickers were my only other visual cues since I did not have enough time to look outside.

4. It formed just west of Joplin, this did not give many adequate time to hear there was a tornado on the ground. We rely on spotter reports west of town in the counties to our west and southwest. If there is a tornado on the ground to the west or southwest, people take it seriously. You could also see the confusion on the local news channels about what was actually going on.

5. Lack of basements or people not using their basements. A lot of houses do not have basements around here due to the high water table and rocky soil. My neighbor has a basement and his sump pump runs 24/7 even when it doesn't rain. My ex-gf's house had a crawl space but they took shelter in an interior bathroom because they did not think anything would happen. I've talked to others that did the same thing.

6. The complex storm situation with multiple areas of rotation and the speed of how quickly the tornado developed and the confusion stemming from that. There were three areas of rotation, one large one with the parent T-storm well to the north of Joplin, another that quickly developed north of Joplin near Carl Junction, that may have hit the northern part of Joplin or it may have went between Joplin and CJ. And then the third one that wasn't impressive until the 5:24-5:25 radar update. It became apparent at the 5:29 update that this was probably producing at least funnel clouds. By 5:39 the tornado was on the ground just south of me. The NWS had Joplin covered in two tornado warnings I believe. One for the rotation near Carl Junction and one that was issued a little bit later for the southern part of Joplin that eventually produced the tornado. I think there was some confusion about where the tornado actually was due to the SVS that was issued that stated a tornado was spotted 6 miles NE of Galena and was moving NE when in fact the tornado was on the ground SE of Galena. That put an entirely different area in the tornado path. I believe it was corrected at 5:42.

The warning can be found here:

http://www.americanw...723#entry721723

I would like to think this wasn't a factor at all, but Joplin is very 'religious'. There are a lot of churches here. People also believe that God will protect them from harm. I've heard many people say that actually. Some of the older people say 'If it's your time to go, it's your time to go', meaning they would rely on God and not really do anything to protect themselves. I would like to think that people sought shelter the best way possible.

Thanks for this reply JoMo. These are all good explanations imo and really help one to understand this whole tragedy a little better.

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I still can't get over the duration of the actual tornado. i mean, you usally see a tornado cross a road in 10 seconds, or other videos it's moving fast, and you only see a couple seconds of it in 1 spot. But between the convenience store video, and some others, and hearing that it lasted up to 2-3 minutes in some places is just unfathomable.

A .75-1 mile wide wedge tornado with roughly 40mph forward motion combined with EF5 intensity; the circulation had to have some pretty intense inflow. I would consider that the reason it lasted so long wasn't necessarily because folks were inside the condensation of the wedge for 2-3 minutes, but were getting hammered with 60-100mph wind gusts 30-40 seconds before and after it plowed through them. I can't imagine the terror of experiencing such intensity for so long when everything around you is obliterated and the shrapnel-laden wind is basically the equivalent of a shotgun blast.

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A .75-1 mile wide wedge tornado with roughly 40mph forward motion combined with EF5 intensity; the circulation had to have some pretty intense inflow. I would consider that the reason it lasted so long wasn't necessarily because folks were inside the condensation of the wedge for 2-3 minutes, but were getting hammered with 60-100mph wind gusts 30-40 seconds before and after it plowed through them. I can't imagine the terror of experiencing such intensity for so long when everything around you is obliterated and the shrapnel-laden wind is basically the equivalent of a shotgun blast.

That's my feeling as well. The core circulation seemed to be embedded in a large envelope of heavy rain and damaging winds that extended well beyond that core.

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That's my feeling as well. The core circulation seemed to be embedded in a large envelope of heavy rain and damaging winds that extended well beyond that core.

The actual track on the NWS site of where the center passed was 5 1/2 blocks south of me or so. I'm questioning if I was actually in the inflow or the outer part of the circulation itself now, heh

Also here's a news story on the NWS team here conducting interviews.

http://www.joplinglo...ng-Joplin-storm

Wagenmaker said several of the people with whom he spoke Tuesday said they heard Joplin’s storm sirens before the tornado struck, “but they wanted some kind of confirmation.”

“They turned on the TV or looked outside,” he said. “When they confirmed the threat, they took cover in a variety of ways. A few had basements, but most people did not. The survivors without fail told us they found shelter in an interior room.”

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Very important line from the above article:

Wagenmaker said it is possible that the findings from Joplin could be tied to a similar survey that was conducted in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after a powerful tornado struck there in April.

Although I'd like to see separate service assessments from 4/27 and Joplin, I definitely could see them clumping all the severe storms this spring into one, especially since there are at least four disasters (4/14-16, 4/27, Joplin, and the MS River Floods) from this spring that could be assessed.

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