Joplin, MO

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43 Responses to “Joplin, MO”

  1. ncinerate says:

    I know that if I lived in “tornado” country, a storm cellar would be top on my list of things on my home hunting list. While I don’t think everyone needs to build for the “worst case possible” and live in concrete pyramids, clearly there’s a good reason to have a hole to crawl into should the need arise. These pictures are telling me no amount of draconian building codes would have kept that tornado from trashing the town, and there was no “getting out of the way” as a mile wide engine of destruction rolled through. There was no safe place in those homes, you needed to be underground or -nowhere- near the strike zone.

    Those pictures are devastating. Listening to that audio from the store freezer with the tornado ripping the building apart, absolutely terrifying.

    A mile wide, scraping everything clean straight down to the dirt. That is beyond comprehension.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Rob – it’s actually Neosho, not Neodesha.

    Sam1148 – thank you for saying this. I live in Springfield, MO, about 45 minutes away from Joplin. Joplin itself is actually a very nice, very clean little town.

    My wife’s aunt and uncle lost their home last night in the tornado. It was a brick house and it’s just gone. There’s nothing left but debris. They’re fine and their dogs are fine, but they’ve lost everything, including their cars. They’re sleeping in a church right now as I type this.

    This may not be as big a tragedy as Japan or even the Alabama storms, but people have died. People have lost all of their worldly possessions. It’s easy to be glib about it until it happens to someone you know.

  3. justinfwest says:

    These people have no shelter and another line of extremely strong storms are on the way.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Living not far from this devastated area, severe weather is just a fact of life. I feel bad for the people of Joplin, may they stay strong.
    And to Rob: Really, what was the point of posting the pic of the blood ? Have some taste. People are still missing. Most readers can put 2 and 2 together when the number of fatalities exceeds 100 from 1 tornado, one sad evening.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I live in tornado alley and I rent. I cant exactly bust out the floor and install a storm shelter. So you plan, stay ready and have at least 2 back up plans. And then a tornado shits on them. Because they are huge, the path is unpredictable and all your tiny human planning goes to matchsticks. Weather forecast for tomorrow is “classic plains tornadic outbreak” and you bet I’m worried. If for no other reason than if it hails bad enough, it will destroy my car, which I can barely afford.

    By the way? My other hometown, Minneapolis, got hit last night too. Hasn’t seen a tornado in the metro in 30 years- how are you supposed to build for that?

    So you plan and hope like hell you’re lucky.
    And when it happens to other people, you send money, and lend a hand if you can. But we’re not stupid, we’re not rednecks and we’re doing the best we can when mother nature gets after us.

  6. Crashproof says:

    The tornado return period for any given building in Tornado Alley is about 5000 years. (Much less if you only count F4-F5 tornadoes.)

    The strictest earthquake building codes cut off at 500-1000 years.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2011/0523/Joplin-Missouri-Why-are-there-no-tornado-building-codes-in-Tornado-Alley

  7. regeya says:

    “I realize that this tornado was a monster. I still think that there is no excuse for tornado deaths, given the technology available to us.”

    You’re a fool.

  8. jtegnell says:

    I went to elementary school in Springfield, just around the corner from Joplin, and junior high in Norman, OK.

    My junior high school doubled as a tornado shelter. The whole thing was underground with no windows whatsoever, and it was all in one huge, giant, massive room, with the different classes separated by barely adequate mobile room dividers.

    Here’s one of the doors: http://www.norman.k12.ok.us/001/bond04/Whittier%20Middle%20School%20-%2013.jpg

  9. aielam says:

    I live one block from where this destruction happened. First, I’d like to thank BoingBoing for the coverage of this catastrophe. The support from the community, nation, and even across the world is astounding.

    I’d like to put some perspective on some of the arguments at hand here. Tornadoes are normal here. We are used to running for shelter when we hear those sirens. MOST of us do know what to do and where to go when we are threatened.

    The fact of the matter is, there was no warning. We knew severe thunderstorms were coming. That’s about all we knew. It seemed like the average storm that some people might enjoy watching from their porch. I was looking out my front door. Then the wind picked up HARD and FAST. We went to the basement. It was over 10 minutes later. This was not enough time for some people to run for … well anywhere.

    My father in law lost his home, but is safe. My mother in law was in church. You know, one of those places you’re not exactly glued to the news reports to see if a catastrophe is coming, because you’re just doing something else and this is the average storm, so nothing to worry about. She was almost killed because, again, there was NO WARNING. Her husband saved her life.

    I know many people who are homeless and have lost family members and friends. Bickering over whether we’re too dumb to find shelter, or whether the government is the offending party, or whatever, just seems a little out of place for me right now. Stop arguing and do something useful. You know how to google “Joplin tornado relief” right?

    Many thanks to those who are helping. There are no words to express our thanks. Joplin WILL rebuild, we will overcome.

  10. aielam says:

    Also, if anyone is interested in my personal account, albeit sloppily put together, here’s the facebook link.

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150191412045662

    Seriously, there are just no words to describe the devastation. Half our city is gone while the rest is completely untouched.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Teepees. Why the hell we are still building for European winters in the middle of American summers is beyond me. Post modern teepees. We need a nation of fenceless grassland again, with Wi-fi everywhere and nice lightweight portable housing that generates electricity and incinerates our poop.

    That said, disaster is really turning into a spectator sport, isn’t it?

    This will happen close to all of us someday, sooner rather than later, and we will regret much of what we have said and not said, done and not done. Hindsight is 20/20 and I for one am still on the front side of whatever Goddess-Smackdown is eventually going to langolier a big tunnel through my life.

    Can I get a Talking Heads chaser? “Same As It Ever Was?”

  12. sekanblogger says:

    I spent the day there retrieving grandkids. Their house was very near “ground zero”.
    It looks like Katrina did at NOLA.
    Everyone there has friends that died.
    Lots of help already there.

  13. MarieJeSuis says:

    One more thing people can do to help prevent injury and death during a natural disaster is become a storm spotter. This is quite helpful to the weather service because radar doesn’t catch everything, and reports from the ground lend credibility to watches and warnings. Classes are free and only take a couple hours. You can find out more at the National Weather Service site: http://www.weather.gov/skywarn/

    I send my best wishes to everyone recovering from this massive set of storms across the country.

  14. Tau'ma says:

    “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. . . . ” http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=1006021913000

  15. C. J. says:

    There is no way to protect yourself from an F4 tornado. The people that survived were simply luckier than others. NO amount of building prep can guarantee safety against 198 mph winds, only increase the likelihood of survival.

    Lets just tell everyone in California to completely retrofit their houses to survive a 8.9 earthquake. Or tell those in Louisiana their houses all need to be on stilts. Or, hey, those hurricanes–aren’t people who live on the east coast just asking for it??

    People can’t afford to safeguard themselves completely. They have to take their chances and hope life is good. It’s terrible what happened in Joplin, and even some of those who did everything right–everything they could–still didn’t make it.

    It’s nice that there’s a desire to prevent this from happening in the future by offering advice. But life’s more complicated than simple platitudes or easy fixes.

    If everyone in the midwest just went back to living in caves, all their problems would be solved, right?

    Yeah. Right. And the internet will actually, someday, be civil. That’ll happen.

  16. Anonymous says:

    @brillow: The general impression I’ve always gotten from Joplin (I’m in Springfield) is that it’s just an average town. Very “small, rural community”, even though it’s actually pretty big. People there remind me of people from Branson, for some reason. It’s not awful, but it’s not amazing.

    As for the devastation, it’s more shocking to me than anything else. We get tornadoes all the time here, for example literally every recording I had of three of my shows (Glee, Bones, Supernatural (don’t think less of me)) for a month and a half had at least one “severe weather alert”: flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes. Up on the plateau, I’ve gotten to where I hardly react. So, it’s been hitting a lot of people slowly how bad this is; I know plenty of people who hardly even paid attention the first day or so because it was just another tornado. (I’m a highschooler, though, so my pool is a bit biased). Still, my school has a goal of $3000 to donate directly to the Joplin school, and we’re getting close after only one day of accepting donations (and this is with another donation drive using the same techniques is collecting for the Lost and Found organization).

    Also, donating to the Red Cross will help. I’m pretty sure they take any amount, and they are the people on the ground helping currently.@brillow: The general impression I’ve always gotten from Joplin (I’m in Springfield) is that it’s just an average town. Very “small, rural community”, even though it’s actually pretty big. People there remind me of people from Branson, for some reason. It’s not awful, but it’s not amazing.

    As for the devastation, it’s more shocking to me than anything else. We get tornadoes all the time here, for example literally every recording I had of three of my shows (Glee, Bones, Supernatural (don’t think less of me)) for a month and a half had at least one “severe weather alert”: flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes. Up on the plateau, I’ve gotten to where I hardly react. So, it’s been hitting a lot of people slowly how bad this is; I know plenty of people who hardly even paid attention the first day or so because it was just another tornado. (I’m a highschooler, though, so my pool is a bit biased). Still, my school has a goal of $3000 to donate directly to the Joplin school, and we’re getting close after only one day of accepting donations (and this is with another donation drive using the same techniques is collecting for the Lost and Found organization).

    Also, donating to the Red Cross will help. I’m pretty sure they take any amount, and they are the people on the ground helping currently.

  17. jtegnell says:

    And yet, as I posted above, the city of Norman decided to build a massive tornado shelter and have the kids spend a big chunk of their day there.

    So, essentially, it IS a valid question, and one some communities have tried to grapple with.

  18. plainsaman says:

    And speaking of victims, one couple who lost their Joplin home (but fortunately not their lives) were Katrina evacuees.

  19. LazarWolf says:

    Having been born in Oklahoma, and having lived in Springfield, MO, most of my life, it’s almost just a fact of life that tornadoes are going to destroy things. It’s tragic, but some portion of a town is destroyed at least every four years, it seems. It’s unavoidable, really. Yeah, you’d think people would try to get basements in their houses to hide in, but realistically, not everyone can do that. In my neighborhood, it’s more common to have shelter in the form of a basement, but as you get to poorer areas of town, or even just neighborhoods that didn’t bother making basements, you find people who are unprotected. And then you have to think of the people who can’t afford to live in anything but a mobile home. I’m sorry, but not everyone can afford to live in a nice building, and as you get away from the metropolitan area, you find more and more of that. There are shelters, but unfortunately, the sirens often go off too late, or people don’t get out quickly enough.

    Small tornadoes are still not a big deal to me, and given I live in Springfield (we’re on a plateau on the edge of the hills, where the tornadoes tend to break up) I have that luxury. But many, many people live in the suburbs, and then even further out, where towns have been completely wiped out before. Usually they aren’t as large as Joplin, but it happens.

    I imagine Joplin will see a sharp decrease in population for awhile in the future. The people who don’t look for larger cities in KC and St Louis will probably move to Springfield. Some may spread out amongst the Ozarks, as they need something more rural.

    Tornadoes will continue to come through our way, and buildings and lives will continue to be destroyed. I’m sorry, but it’s a fact of life, and if you want to help, rather than complaining about faulty buildings, lack of shelters, or whatever else you think people should be able to afford, why don’t you donate (money or blood), or come down and help rebuild?

  20. Anonymous says:

    I am astonished by these photos — and astonished that anyone could look at them and think that any “building code” in the history of the world could withstand what did this.

  21. AnneH says:

    I see these terrible photographs, and my response is anger. I am angry because cities in tornado prone areas should have building codes that protect their citizens.

    For private homes, it doesn’t have to be the whole house that is tornado resistant. ( I think building entire homes that are tornado proof would be prohibitively expensive for most people.) We can borrow an idea from history – the storm cellar. Each residence should have a storm room, built specifically to withstand the worst weather in an area.

    I realize that this tornado was a monster. I still think that there is no excuse for tornado deaths, given the technology available to us.

    • Milo says:

      Sorry to hear the Universe disappointed you. That must be awful.

    • brillow says:

      That’s a nice thought Anne, but that would cost too much, these people could not afford to build (or live in) such homes.

      Joplin is a very poor town. If you want to get an idea how poor, check out the movie “Winter’s Bone” which was set and filmed around Joplin.

    • Anonymous says:

      oh my. people died, perhaps if i blame them and others, i will feel less bad about not helping.

      stuff happens, and recently, it seems to be happening more. get used to helping, in any way you can.

      giving blood might be a good place to start.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Anne, Not everyone is at their home when a tornado strikes. You can not weather-proof the world. You can provide more shelters as you point out.

  23. jetsetsc says:

    Sad and tragic.

    You know, the economy is still in need of stimulus, the homebuilding industry is in a major slump. If we were a more generous and less gridlocked nation there would be some sort of federal response that would involve incentives towards rebuilding homes in disaster zones with more tornado safe (not proof) housing.

    Those maps a while back showing the death toll vs storm frequency show that the risk has more to do with the quality of housing (or trailers) than anything. It would be like rural electrification – a TVA for the tornado alley. It would beat the hell out of any wall street bail out.

  24. Sork says:

    I think of the three little pigs. All that is standing is the house of bricks. All the houses of straw and sticks are gone. Isn’t that story about tornadoes?

    Wouldn’t a pyramid shaped brick/concrete house be tough for a tornado to damage?

    • JeffersonJ says:

      That’s pretty much true of commercial businesses. For homes, one must be a bit more realistic.

      In tornadoes such as this one, about the only thing that can protect a person is a storm shelter. A brick house provides a negligent amount of protection over a solidly built timber-and-siding house (mobile homes and “shacks” being an obvious exception).

  25. Anonymous says:

    Joplin is a small town that is generally well liked by people in the surrounding cities in states. It is a small town with a nice reputation. So when we hear and see the devastation in Joplin, it means much more to us than most people.

    Everyone in the area would certainly like to have a nice tornado shelter. But, at least in my area, basements are uncommon. Everyone would like to have a nice safe room, but they’re expensive to get installed.

    • brillow says:

      My impression of Joplin (based on my close friends who grew up there) is that it was fairly non-great place to grow up.

  26. lava says:

    Its not just the shape of the house. Sometimes the pressure differential is so great the house can just blow out.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I worked at that hospital a couple of years, back in the 70s. An uncle had his house flattened, he’s in ICU in a nearby town with broken ribs and a punctured lung. His house was brick, a photos from his sister shows slabs of brick wall scattered like cards.

  28. triscuit says:

    Tornadoes are the meteorological imps, demons and harbingers of disaster that defy our models and materials, that decimate our neighbors and designate fate’s unlucky fingering of who is unworthy for the next storm.

  29. King Coopa says:

    Funny how people here in Oklahoma don’t understand how people can live in places like California due to the earthquakes or in Florida with their hurricanes.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Brick homes can actually be more dangerous due to what bricks do in a collapse. During many of the deadliest tornadoes in history, the worst casualties have occurred when brick walls fell on people taking shelter. Wood just blows away.

    Storm cellars and basements are also not always an option in Tornado alley. Extensive flooding can render one useless, and in addition the soil in many places is just not suitable for basement construction.

    The best idea for tornado-related upgrades to a building is an armored steel safe-room bolted to the floor in the inside of your garage.

  31. sam1148 says:

    I get depressed looking at Boingboing comments about ‘flyover states’ when disasters happen.

    Same thing every time: “Why don’t they build for a 100 year tornado” or
    worse, the “well they deserved it for the way they vote”. (yes, some actually said that about Alabama here). A F5 or F4 rips through pavement and concrete buildings, brick buildings. The implied idea is basically; those stupid rednecks don’t know how to build, and the mistaken idea it’s just people that live in trailers (trash).

    We don’t hear those things about ‘net cool places like Japan where this happens. Well except the nuke plants–but hey those are corporations.

    I haven’t seen any ‘makers’ so prevalent here after Japan designing posters/t-shirts/things for sell for American disaster support. It’s just NOT COOL, because hey, they’re ignorant rednecks.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Let them eat steel-reinforced concrete.

      Millions of people in Tornado Alley can barely put food on the table or pay for health care, but there’s no excuse for them not living in Dr. No’s lair.

    • Anonymous says:

      I get where you’re coming from, but we’d be a lot better served if you could encourage people to help out rather than insulting them.

      The response to the tsunami was far larger than the tornado response because the disaster was of an entirely different scale.

      Please don’t belittle people who try to help others, even if the efforts seem trivial or misguided. The worst enemy here is cynicism.

      • sam1148 says:

        if you could encourage people to help out rather than insulting them.

        Perhaps I was a bit harsh; but it should be said. Were is the ‘smack down’ for insults here?

        The implied language of posts here is the real insult: they live in shacks, they don’t know how to build, and they live in mobile homes, they should have storm cellars..etc..etc. The true belittling is the insulting language for those affected.

        In this thread, there has no ‘helping’ just pointing fingers about building codes.

        I did see Maggie post one about donations for Alabama…but comments were sparse there and was mostly ignored by boingboingers; or worse, met with divisive comments about how the area voted and the same old ‘building code’ discussions we’re seeing here.

        Like in Alabama, they’re still picking up the pieces..trying to find shelter, food, clothing, etc. And here we’re talking about how ignorant they are for living in homes that were destroyed.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          True enough, there’s a “blame the victim” mentality loose, which appears in comments on many blogs, not only on Boing Boing – and not only in stories of natural disasters.

          It ought indeed to be called out for what it is – blaming the victim.

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