UPDATED: May 25 at 8:05 a.m.
I was able to speak to my brother who lives in Joplin on Tuesday. Only one other call had gotten through his phone since Sunday, so communication is still bad, but improving.
Even though I knew Joe and his family were OK, it was so good to hear his voice. He was emotional as he tried to describe just what it's like in Joplin. He got lost on a road he's traveled hundreds of times because there are no landmarks or street signs. Nothing is recognizable and every block in the tornados path looks just like the other: wiped out.
You see the picture of Joe and his beautiful family: the kids are age 5, 4, 2 and 1. Now a friend's family that lost everything will be moving in with them until they can get back on their feet. It's just the spirit of Joplin; neighbor helping neighbor and strangers alike.
I told Joe what our area is doing to help out. It's incredible to see all the support for the people who are suffering. Joe was very touched by all we're doing, both at KHQA with our phone-a-thon (Dail 1-800-929-3518 to phone in your donations) and material donations, and the efforts of so many other groups. He said to pass along the appreciation of all the people in Joplin. We are so blessed in the tri-states who can always be counted on to reach out to those in need.
Click here to visit our Joplin Tornado Relief page and see how you can get involved with the efforts.
Take care ~Sarah
My extended family"brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins"spent anxious moments listening to reports out of Joplin Sunday night. We were waiting for word from my brother and his family who live there. We also have an uncle and several cousins who live in Joplin. By about nine Sunday night, all our relatives had been accounted for, scared but safe.
My brother Joe has been out helping with recovery and rescue efforts. When I last talked to my sister-in-law Jaymee, she said Joe was digging people out of the flattened Walmart just down the road from them. Jaymee was off to donate her O-negative blood, which is in such great demand. She was also headed out of town to stock up on food and supplies to keep their family of six going for the rough days ahead.Related Stories... 'We know God has protected us': Several people with local ties impacted by Joplin tornado (The Quincy Herald-Whig) Must-see videos: Massive tornado storms through Joplin, Mo. (Hannibal Courier-Post) Sunday storms ravage Joplin, Missouri (KHQA) How you can help (Red Cross)
How many times have we been warned about being prepared for a disaster? How many of us actually heed the warning? I TMve interviewed Marion County TMs Emergency Management Director dozens of times over the years. John Hark has pounded the message of preparedness into my brain. His counterpart in Adams County, John Simon is forever preaching the same sermon. Yet do I have so much as a gallon of water on standby if something were to happen? Why is it that we think these things can only happen to someone else?
Jaymee was the same way. When the sirens sounded, she blew them off at first. It wasn TMt until she heard the rumble of a freight train that she grabbed the babies and huddled in a hallway. As the tornado roared past, she was texting my brother, letting him know what was happening. He was returning with the older kids from a trip to Kansas. (We were with him there as the tornado sirens sounded Saturday at our hotel.) For 45 agonizing minutes, Joe lost contact with his wife. He finally found a way into Joplin, but didn TMt know if he TMd find his house standing and his family alive.
Jaymee says the experience changed her. Their church is gone. Three of the town TMs schools are history. The entire town has changed since those sirens sounded Sunday night. Jaymee TMs determined to prepare her family for an emergency. But will the lessons learned in Joplin reach the rest of us?
Click here for more coverage from CBS News as frantic searching continues as more storms are on the way.
Take care ~Sarah