For months now I've been telling myself, "Today, I will blog!" Until today, all those proclamations have been fibs. It came down to the conclusion that unless I started typing, I was now the author of yet another defunct blog littering the web...so either get to blogging, or hit that delete button.
Unfortunately the topic that got me going again isn't funny, informative, or snarky.
I grew up in a little po-dunk farming community about a 30 minute drive from Joplin. However, Joplin is the hub of the Missouri/Kansas/Oklahoma/Arkansas area dubbed "The Four States." Since I was small, this is where we went to do a majority of our shopping. Joplin is where I got my braces (that office is now leveled), where in high school I drove with friends to go to the mall and cruise Main Street, where I played softball, attended country music concerts, and even took a few college courses.
For two years as an adult, it's where I lived and worked, and where I still have friends and family. Needless to say, recent disastrous events have been a real kick in the gut.
Family and friends luckily all weathered the storm with only minor damage, though a few acquaintances weren't that lucky, and lost homes. And tragically, the number of people who lost their lives is still rising. We're just now hearing a lot of stories of tragedy, loss, but also true heroism.
Secondary to the horrible loss of life is the loss of property. I've stared slack-jawed at photographs and videos of the damage, trying to comprehend how places I've shopped hundreds of times could be reduced to splinters and twisted metal, and how such easily-recognized areas can now appear as stark and alien as a different planet.
I've been told it's impossible to comprehend, but here are some before/after photos:
Joplin Devastation - Before and After
Of course, my disbelief from afar is nothing compared to those living through it. I've had to resist the nearly uncontrollable urge to head north and lend a hand to my fellow Four-Staters. The attitude of neighbors helping neighbors is still a defining trait of the area. However, family have informed me that things are still too crazy for charging in, and it's best to stay put for the time-being. They've assured me I'll get my chance to help, as Joplin will be needing help for months.
In the meantime, there are plenty of reputable organizations taking donations. If anyone has a few extra dollars they'd like to give, this is one community that is going to need it. Especially over the next few weeks and months, when the headlines read something else, and the rest of the country has turned their attention to the latest big thing.