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(UPDATED) On the Scene in Joplin

For the most part Joplinites have responded the way Midwesterners always do: they dug themselves out of the rubble, brushed themselves off, got their sense of humor in place, and went looking for someone in worse shape than they were to help. (With photos.)

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

May 23, 2011 - 9:40 am
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UPDATE: The Joplin Globe is now reporting 116 dead. More than 1,000 people have been transported to area hospitals and there is every indication the death toll could go still higher. Hampering the search and rescue efforts is the continuing severe weather. The Joplin area has been under severe thunderstorm warnings several times today and the entire Four States region is under a flash flood warning.

Even more frightening, I talked to the National Weather Service this morning after I submitted the story and meteorologists are calling for an elevated risk for tornadoes Tuesday. Joplin is by no means out of the woods and the severe weather is expected to continue until at least Wednesday or Thursday.

Adding insult to injury, the flash flooding will impact both the corn and wheat crops adversely. This is a farming area and with the loss of jobs due to the tornado, the economic impact of a bad crop or two will be a difficult burden to bear for the communities in the metro area.

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I heard the news that a tornado had struck Joplin, Missouri, at about 6:15 p.m. on Sunday.

This was devastating news, as Joplin is only about 20 minutes from the small southeast Kansas town where I live.

As a journalist my job was clear — I had to climb in my car and go get photos. It is in some ways a ghoulish way to make a living. We don’t always like parts of our job, but we do what we must.

What I saw was utterly impossible to describe. National Weather Service Meteorologist Doug Cramer told me on Monday the twister was an EF-4 or possibly EF-5, but the damage was so extensive it may be days before a final determination can be made. Ninety people are dead as of this writing.

As a human being I found it impossible to leave without helping, and stopped to give what little aid I could.

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