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Looting was not much of a problem and mostly was done by career crim- inals or outsiders who responded specifically to see what they could get. Locals were not amused.


The local Dillons food store was wiped out but announced they were going to rebuild bigger and better.


Cars parked where they sat when the tornado struck. Note the “X” marks on the vehicles showing they were checked for survivors.


Old Glory flew high everywhere. Note the heavy steel structural beams bent like a coat hanger wire.


with a severely broken leg offered to pay him for some gas. My friend shook his head, “Roy, he was lay- ing there all busted up and actually reached into his pocket to pay me for my gas. Damndest thing to see that. I told him no, but still, it’s funny what people do sometimes.”


Citizen Responses By the next morning, citizens had


taken it on themselves to set up on corners to feed people. They had used their own money, buying hamburgers and hotdogs, using bent and busted gas grills and simply handing food out to homeless people and rescue workers. I donated my load of food to several of these instant restaurants. A dear friend, George Michalo- poulos, owns Mythos restaurant in


Shredded steel flew miles, often wrapping around trees. Note the brick house destroyed.


Joplin. Although in the path of de- struction, by some miracle, his restau- rant escaped with just cosmetic dam- age. The Wal-Mart across the street was completely destroyed, along with the Home Depot on the nearby street. It truly was a miracle. But George was typical of what I saw, and opened his doors. Without power, he knew his freezer would soon warm, so he called his staff in and they cooked for three days, feeding over 900 meals the first day! I set up my generator for him, and assembled another he bought, and then got out of their way. I put a flag up on the busted pole out front of his restaurant and the picture I took of George by that flag is one of my favorites and pretty much shows the moxie of the people of Joplin. The response from surrounding


The “X” marks showed a vehicle or structure was checked for survivors or bodies. In this case, Kansas City Fire Department personnel checked this house on 5-22 and found no bodies or survivors inside.


communities was immediate and churches of all kinds began to feed people the first morning after. By day’s end, shelters were set up, food was delivered from out of town, vol- unteers arrived to help dig out and emergency services arrived in large numbers. During the second day, linemen and equipment from sur- rounding states began to arrive and power poles were being replaced and power restored to key areas. It was all done as if some master conductor was coordinating, but in actuality, it was simply people doing what they thought needed doing. After a few days, an infrastructure


was soundly in place and there was definite direction to the recovery. As- sistance continued to arrive by the truck-full, and churches, private par- ties, state and city groups organized the process so food, medicine, cloth- ing, shelter and whatever was needed got into the right hands. It was stun- ning to watch, a mobilizing effort on a tremendous scale, and unlike anything I had ever seen before, even in the oth- er disasters I’d been involved with.


Self-Help Immediately after the tornado


That’s a telephone pole snapped off by the sheer force of 200 mph winds. Think being in a brick house will save you? Think again.


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lifted, local people began clearing the smaller side streets using gar- den tractors with blades and muscle. There was lots of chain saw action by citizens clearing roads for emergency vehicles. That was happening within minutes of the hit. It was so different from Katrina. Everyone here who was not injured did a few things in order:


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