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Joplin undigging from tragedy

By: 23 May 2011 2 Comments

This photo, courtesy of Mercy Health System, depicts the only object left standing in front of St. John's Hospital in Joplin, Mo. The hospital took a direct hit in Sunday's devastating tornado.

JOPLIN, MO–Yesterday, Joplin, Mo. made a tragic mark in history by being the site for what is now being called the deadliest single tornado in U.S. history. So far, 116 people are confirmed dead.

Late afternoon on Sunday, a rated EF-4 tornado struck the southwest Missouri town that is about an hour north of Bentonville. The estimated winds were 190-198. By the way, it takes 200 mph winds to get an EF-5 rating. There’s been some talk that the tornado could be given that rating once all the damage is surveyed.

The headlines that have been coming from the area are just heartbreaking… St. John’s hospital took a direct hit and looks like it’s from a war zone…as does much of South Joplin. The Joplin School District is now officially closed for the school year. An estimated 200,000 buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged. Hundreds injured. Thousands without power or safe drinking water. More storms have been slamming the area today.

Usually here at First Arkansas News, we try to draw a line between fact and opinion. When we write news stories that have our own perspective heavily laden throughout the post, we tell you ahead of time by calling it a reporter’s notebook.

Today, you will have to forgive us for crossing that line. When faced with tragedy and heartache, it’s hard to remain objective … and to some degree, we shouldn’t even try in this case. What we will always try to do here is provide you with accurate information. We know thousands of people throughout Arkansas want to help our neighbors to the north so we’re going to try and provide some resources where you can get information about how to best lend a hand.

These Facebook pages seem to be providing accurate, updated and comprehensive information:

Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery

Animals Lost & Found from the Joplin, Mo. Tornado

Joplin Tornado Info

Joplin Globe (the newspaper)

On Twitter, follow @MercyJoplin for relief information about the hospital. Follow hashtags #Joplin and #MONeeds.

Right now, the needs feel insurmountable but they CAN be met. The big thing is, do not self deploy up there. Officials are asking that all help come through official channels. What you intend as help could easily become a hindrance to efforts.

Here are a few notes that we know of regarding relief efforts and how you can help:

  • National Americorp Volunteers are setting up a national hotline for residents to call to check on loved ones. Call (417) 659-5464
  • The Heart of Missouri United Way launched a Joplin Relief Fund, where 100 percent of all donations will be given to relief efforts in Joplin. Text “JOPLIN” to 864833 to make a $10 donation.
  • Type O blood is needed. Contact your local Red Cross office to donate. You can also donate to the southern Missouri chapter, Ozarks Red Cross. They are also on Facebook. And they have a blog.
  • Many supplies are needed including bottled water, baby food, gloves, trash bags, snacks, Gatorade, socks, blankets, flashlights, batteries, personal care items, soap, high energy snack bars, wet wipes, toilet paper, lanterns, bandaids, tarps, duct tape, pet food, other pet supplies, flip flops, clothes, etc. The Facebook pages listed above have a growing list of drop-off points that are available.
  • National Americorp Volunteers are setting up a national hotline for residents to call to check on loved ones. Call (417) 659-5464.
  • Emergency officials are asking sightseers to stay away from the area while the damage is assessed. To volunteer, call 1-800-427-4626.

To get an idea of some of the devastation, you really should check out these videos.

A view from the air

A first-person account


About: Jamie Smith:
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.

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