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This isn’t from clean up efforts; this was how it looked right after the tornado. If you think you’ll have all your stuff in order, think again. Most people were wiped out and simply walked away since everything was destroyed.


5:41 p.m. It then moved slowly at 10 to 15 mph in a northeast direction, deci- mating a 6-mile swath, almost 1-mile wide in places. It looked like you took a giant brush hog and simply ground everything there to pieces. After tak- ing out one third of Joplin, the tor- nado lifted, causing some damage east of Joplin due to high winds, but it was as if it had a brain and knew just where to hit — and just when to leave.


My Phone Rang “Are you guys okay?” it was Ryan


Ford, a close friend who lived a cou- ple of miles west of us, just south of Joplin, like us. “Sure, I said, “but that was some


storm, eh?” “A tornado hit Joplin and it’s bad,


real bad,” Ryan said. “St. John’s Hos- pital is wiped out.”


I kept seeing those pictures in my


mind of a few mobile homes knocked around and a few trees scattered so didn’t think things would be that bad. Initial reports are almost always worse than things actually are. “We’re fine, Ryan,” I told him. “I’m going to call to check on friends though.” I


tried phoning but could not


get through on a cell or landline. Suzi took her 4x4 into town while I prepped tools, just in case. She came back in about 45 minutes. “We’ve both seen wildfires,


earthquakes, riots and plane crashes,” she said (we are both retired San Diego cops), “but this is total destruction. I couldn’t get through anywhere to anyone we know. It’s real bad, worse than you can imagine. The roads are impassable.” Suzi doesn’t get excited about such


things, and she was quiet as she told me this. But I knew from the look on her face it was the real thing. She said semi-trailer rigs were tossed around like toys at a nearby truck stop and big oaks a half-mile from us were blown over. We dodged the bullet on this one, but knew many friends and people we knew in Joplin were more than likely in trouble — or worse. My cell rang again; it was my clos-


est neighbor, Kent, a doctor. “Roy, I’m at work, can you check


on the house and Cindy? Also, see if you can get the generator going for them? It needs hooking up. I can’t get home since we’re gearing up for the injured.” Welcome to the country and good neighbors. I jumped into my E-Z-Go with


some tools and made sure Kent’s fam- ily was okay. They too had missed


The tornado hit on a Sunday so, luckily, the high school was empty. A weekday might have been much different.


34 REALITY CHECK • 2012 SPECIAL EDITION


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