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May 23, 2011 / 74

Joplin, MO

Evidence this AM indicates it was a half mile wide EF 4 or possibly an EF 5 rare multi-vortex tornado that hit Joplin, MO yesterday afternoon. Current reports indicate that the High School was effectively destroyed, a Walmart was leveled, and St John’s Regional Medical Center was hit hard. St Johns has a lot of patients, and I understand they have been or are  being evacuated to other hospitals as much as the ability exists – since there aren’t that many hospitals in the area. Joplin only has one other – the overflow would probably go to Springfield.

Concrete block buildings were destroyed, blocks shattered, bark was stripped from trees, and wooden structures were reduced to piles of splinters – and debris was thrown and carried by the storm as far as 75 miles away.

Early estimates were that as much as 75% of the small city was destroyed – but as usual early estimates are heavily influenced by adrenalin. Later estimates influenced by skepticism underestimated the damage at around 10 to 20% destroyed. This AM the estimates are settling at around 15 to 30% of the town was destroyed.

The death toll so far is pegged at 89 people, but it is expected to rise through the day as rubble is cleared and as searches for specific missing individuals focus in on their probable locations.

The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, declared a state of emergency yesterday evening, and called out the Missouri National Guard.

Joplin is in the SW corner of the State, and I live in the NW corner of it. The urge to jump in my pick-up and head down there is strong. I have a lot of skills and knowledge that would be useful, and I have a chain saw and know how to use it.  But I’m not the only person who could help – and at present people are pouring into the city – professionals who have experience at dealing with this kind of thing. So it’s probably best that I keep my old body home. If they call for people with certain skills later, after they’ve evaluated the needs, then it would be appropriate for me to go. Otherwise, I’d just be another tourist getting in the way. But ala Star Wars – the need to go and help is strong within me…

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