Reading the paper on Saturday, I came across heart-wrenching stories about brave men who sheltered their wives bodies during the Joplin tornado and perished in the process. I had to move. After finding the website for the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ 2-1-1 website Saturday, we quickly had our assignment. We drove down this morning with our friend Derrick and cleared debris, sorted it into piles for proper disposal and had a first-hand look at what 200 mile/hour winds can do.

It was devastating and sad. We talked to a home owner who only wanted her clothes and shoes and said the rest was worthless. Her neighbor’s grandson was trying to find valuable coins and marbles in the rubble. It looked like a bomb had gone off, or a war had taken place. Cars were flattened. Tiny closets where people had hid without basements were shown to us. It was hard to see people’s lives so disrupted by the terror of the storm.

Hunkering down in my own basement this week, with tornado sirens going off, I realized how real this all is. I was pretty sure that I would be okay, but it made me think of what was going through people’s minds as they waited out the storm touching down all around them. I will be going back on Saturday, June 11 if anyone wants to come with me. (We’ll do what we did today and drive down and back in the same day.) If you would like to make a donation you can do so here. Here are some photos of the day:

This is what the house we were cleaning up looked like a little over a week ago (from Google Earth).
The house after the storm. Volunteers were lovingly trying to save every scrap of anything that looked personal. The elderly owners survived and just got out of the hospital.
A business we passed on our way to the work site.
The second house we worked on. The owner survived, hiding in a closet. We met her.
Being safe like my daddy taught me, respirator style!
Seeing my husband helping others makes me love him even more!
So many cars were just tossed around in the tornado.

I was highly impressed with the organization of the day’s project. From the sign-up to the check-in process to the water/food trucks driving around to feed and water the volunteers, the day couldn’t have been better. It’s not easy to process as many people as I saw walking around, my hat is off to the United Way of Greater St. Louis!

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