Tag Archives: Joplin Missouri tornado

After Twister, Joplin Holds On To Broken Relics

by FRANK MORRIS, from National Public Radio

The original sign for Dude's Daylight Donuts had hung on Main Street in Joplin for decades. Here it sits in the public works yard.

The original sign for Dude’s Daylight Donuts had hung on Main Street in Joplin for decades. Here it sits in the public works yard.

Residents of Joplin, Mo., have worked overtime to move debris and make a fresh start after one of the most destructive tornadoes demolished a third of the city in May. Still, many cling to what outsiders may see as battered junk, in order to keep memories of the event from slipping away.

Just after the storm, for example, Randy Brown walked away from his splintered home pushing a trash can full of whatever he could salvage, possibly for a shrine.

“We’re seeing all these broken items, and you know, I just realized that I need to memorialize this, even if it’s just for me,” Brown says.

Brown has a new house now, on the other side of Joplin. In his garage, bags of clothes and household things litter the floor, all carefully excavated from the wreck of his old place.

“It’s just that it’s hard to let it go. I even saved that broken lamp there,” Brown says. “But now that I have it, I’m not sure why I saved it. But here it is.”

He’s having a hard time bringing himself to take this stuff from the garage into his new home. He doesn’t even want to clean off the slurry of mud and finely ground debris that shellacked everything and everybody caught in that horrific storm.

‘Tornado Poop’

“I’ve heard it called ‘tornado poop’ — the spatter that was whirled around, and you could see it into the side of houses, especially brick. You know, just stuck on everything. I just want to leave it there — the destroyed spattered way it looked that day,” Brown says.

But most of Joplin now looks vastly different than it did “that day.” Then, it was a mass of sharp, heaving rubble. Now, what you see, mostly, is naked concrete slabs or barren dirt where neighborhoods used to be. The debris has largely been piled into huge, nightmarish hills, landfills where it’s churned and crushed by enormous machines.

At the public works yard in Joplin, Patrick Tuttle, the guy who runs the Convention and Visitors Bureau, shows a small pile of debris a lot of respect.

“We’ve got superstructure from the power grid, street signs, some things from the high school,” Tuttle says. “Can’t go back to the landfill two years from now and dig it out, so we’re putting it away.”

Main Street Memories

Dude Pendergraft, 80, owner of Dude's Daylight Donuts in Joplin, stands on the concrete slab where his shop used to be. After the tornado destroyed it, he's rebuilding nearby.

Dude Pendergraft, 80, owner of Dude’s Daylight Donuts in Joplin, stands on the concrete slab where his shop used to be. After the tornado destroyed it, he’s rebuilding nearby.

But nobody knows what to do with it. A museum, maybe? A memorial? Art? There are cars and trucks so mangled you can’t tell what they are; thick I-beams bent like noodles; and a round, blue sign with old-fashioned font and a hole in the middle.

It says “Fresh Donuts,” and it used to hang in front of Dude’s Daylight Donuts.

“This has hung on Main Street in Joplin for long as I know,” Tuttle says.

There’s not much on this section of Main Street now, other than long, thin slabs of concrete.

Dude Pendergraft, 80, checks out the space that used to be home to his doughnut shop, now just one of those empty slabs. The tornado also destroyed his house, which was right behind his shop. Still, Pendergraft is rebuilding the business, with a new, prefab building — one that will go up quick. His son, Allen, is in charge of getting a new sign.

“We’ll try to make it as close to the original as possible. Hopefully within about two or three months, it will be back shining in the night again, I hope,” Allen Pendergraft says.

And there’s a lot of hope around here, a lot of backbone. But it doesn’t seem like people in Joplin want to just forget the disaster and get on with their lives, so much as come to grips with what the storm taught them about the world.

A lot of them seem to be counting on broken, splattered relics to keep that lesson fresh.


Filed under AMERICANA, History, Missouri, NEWS, Ozarks, The Four States

The Saddest List

State: All are now accounted for following 5/22 tornado

Updated 4:15 PM CST:  When the Missouri Department of Public Safety released its official list of persons unaccounted for, that number was down to zero.

Officials say the Missouri State Highway Patrol has accounted for all individuals on that list.

They say 144 persons on the list have been located; and, next-of-kin of 134 deceased individuals have been notified.

MORE HERE: list of deceased

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Filed under Missouri, NEWS, Ozarks, The Four States, Tributes

Bikers, Truckers and Patriots Block Westboro at Joplin

Westboro's Youth Group?

 When I got to work last night, a co-worker said they had heard that Fred Phelps and his hateful, misguided clan were “Completely blocked in” by semi-trucks at Joplin while attempting to spread their hate speech (they call it freedom and religion). Their website proudly stated “Thank God For 125 dead in Joplin”.

 So, being absolutely delighted by this mental image of the Phelps trapped by an angry mob, I decided to see if I could find out how true this is. I did find out that something similar happened, but I haven’t gotten any local news reports on this. Here’s what I found so far. From the L.A. Times :

[….] Thousands of motorcyclists also streamed into town from Missouri and surrounding states, many announcing their intention to block protests planned by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which said it would picket Obama’s arrival.

The controversial church opened a raw wound here with its announcement that those killed when a 200 mph tornado struck Joplin a week ago, now estimated at 139, “died for the sins of Missourians who have repeatedly lifted up their violent hands against God’s anointed, despite plain warnings not to do so.”

“We love Joplin. Joplin’s hurting. Nobody needs to make it worse. They need to go home,” said Mike Striegel, a biker from Joplin.

“We will take care of our town, no matter what it takes,” added Herb Kirkpatrick Jr., a motorcyclist from the outskirts of Joplin.

Most of those lining miles of roadway between Joplin’s main mall and the campus of Missouri Southern State University, where Obama was scheduled to speak after touring the 6-mile-long storm-ravaged area, were couples, families and groups of young people, many waving flags and posters of support for the city.

“We’re trying to show respect and honor for the ones we lost in Joplin,” said Charlie Brown, a co-organizer of the street rally, who said more than 20,000 people indicated on the group’s three Facebook pages that they planned to attend.[….]

And apparently there was a little more than just lining the streets with flags that happened! Some reports are coming in that they (Westboro) was confronted and blocked by vehicles at “The Flying J” Truck Stop. From a Facebook page:

“Just want to say that They did show up in joplin today, Fred mouthed off to a couple bikers, got his ass kicked, then was blocked in at the Flying J”

There are LOTS of rumors and some conflicting reports out there everywhere. This one is an anonymous comment from an apparent witness/participant in this.

(sic)”The Police walked one individual (Male) right in front of all us Bikers to there West B. Protesting area. That was a Big Mistake.. The chase in sued,the police couldnt run that guy out of there fast enough. We made to the other side of the parking lot ware we were met with force. Pepper spray go figure. It was brief then order was regained. Who ever arranged for there protest area tobe set up right next to 1000 plus bikers with a yellow caution tape being the divider really didnt think it through.Lol… ( May Faith and Kindness Speed your Recovery Joplin ).. WE Have Your Back..         ……….Bikers………….”

Just when I was about to give up on rumors and anonymous comments, I found one tiny piece from a more official news agency, an ABC affiliate that seems to perfectly corroborate the anonymous comment above:

“Members of the Westboro Baptist Church scheduled a protest in Joplin, Mo., Sunday. One protestor arrived around 12:15 p.m. and was accosted by counter protestors. Police escorted the Westboro member to safety and used tear gas to control the crowd”

Another report from the same ABC affiliate:

“It all started in a parking lot across from Missouri Southern State University, where today’s memorial took place.

According to witnesses, a crowd of people swarmed a man after he showed what they called a hateful sign.

Police ran into the crowd threatening to use tear gas if it got out of control.

Police then detained the man and escorted him away from the scene.

“Everybody just swarmed him, yeah, they were swarming him, throwing water bottles at him and just basically getting him out of here,” said Kelly Gresham, a witness at the scene. “They were trying to keep a little control here, the officers were, but it was just not going to happen with him.”

Our KSPR News crew did see a man detained by police with a folded up sign in his lap, but did not see what was actually on the sign.

Witnesses insist it was a sign similar to ones used by members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

According to the church’s website, a protest was planned for today.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Public Safety only heard of this one incident and are unsure if the individual involved was in fact part of the church.”

One more for good measure:

(Joplin, MO) — Police in Joplin fired off pepper spray to break up a minor clash between a small group of protesters and another group of people seeking to shield tornado victims from the protest.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas traveled to Joplin to protest ahead of a community memorial service.  The group claims the tornado, which devastated parts of Joplin a week ago, was God’s wrath for America tolerating homosexuality.

Members of the Patriot Guard were in the same area as the Westboro group and witnesses tell KOLR10 there was a minor confrontation between one member of each group with shouting and some shoving.  Police sprayed pepper spray to separate the groups.

ANYBODY reading that witnessed any of these incidents? If so, please comment!


Filed under Crime, Faith, Human Rights, Kansas, Missouri, Ozarks, Religion, The Four States

Joplin Gets Organized

Just a note for those readers who don’t live in “The Fours States” area. Watching the local reports, and the help has grown faster than it can be organized. There is much progress in this area though as this slowly gets more coordinated. The “missing” count was as many as 1,500 at one point, but is now around 200. The death toll is about 120 and expected to rise. One Joplin Nursing Home says they believe they have 12 dead who are on the missing list.

To see incredible, and interactive photo(s), NPR’s BEFORE & AFTER pics.

Joplin’s “Boomtown Days” celebration has been cancelled or postponed, and this will be a long, slow process of returning to normal. All parents and students are being told to expect to have classes this fall!

Just want to share one last photo, and I probably won’t have much more about Joplin, at least not frequently. Check out this amazing sight; a wood-frame chair embedded in a concrete wall. I know, you’re thinking the photo is turned sideways….nope. This was a slow-moving, debris filled, F5 MONSTER. This is for real, and the very reason so many fatalities happened.For those who know people from the Joplin area, or need information, including the latest list of missing persons, go here: KOAM TV7.


Filed under Missouri, NEWS, ODDITIES, Ozarks, The Four States

Joplin Update & Photos

Yesterday, I took off from my morning job and the wife, younger daughter, her friend and I all went to Joplin and evacuated my two grandkids. Taking two vehicles, we picked up the kid’s clothes and other small personal items. Hopefully this will free up my older daughter and her husband to take care of things without worry.

After reaching Joplin, it took another hour and a half to get to her house. Most roads in were blocked, and the officers there were all from out town, so they could not tell us how or where to get in at. I only saw one person get let through, and that was because she was there to identify her son’s body. She said this so matter-of-fact like that it was shocking.

When we got there, Jim Forbes, St. Louis Post photographer was already at the house, as my daughter is also his niece. He took the first five photos below, for more from Forbes, scroll down.

St. John's Hospital, Joplin Missouri

 Destruction beyond belief. Heartaches by the thousands. My grandson (7 years old in a couple of weeks) lost a 5 year old friend and the friend’s sister. My daughter and family lost their house and vehicles, but are not complaining….just thankful! See photos of their house below.

West / back side of house.

South side of house

One block from the house above.

Two blocks north of house.

The traffic near the damage was crazy….bumper to bumper. There were also many, many volunteers as well as police and emergency professionals from states all around. We saw ambulances still leaving town, and at the same time there were semi-trailer loads of plywood and relief supplies coming in. An amazing, frightening, saddening and a generally emotional time for us all.

“One of the most shocking scenes I witnessed yesterday happened while I was going house-to-house with firefighters. A woman walked up and pointed to a blanket less than 10 feet away and calmly said her mother’s body was under it.”  – James Forbes  ~ 

For professional pics: PHOTOS BY JAMES FORBES

Other pictures from a Joplin resident – See over 2,500 photos of the damage here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clovenlife


Filed under Missouri, NEWS, The Four States

Prayers for Joplin Missouri

Please pray for all the people affected by this terrible event. My Daughter and Grandchildren survived this, but so far at least 89 others have died. Joplin is about 60 miles from where I live, and we are getting severe storms here at Parsons, Kansas as I write.

Although God may not intervene in our affairs, his people are certainly here to help.

My Daughter Shawn’s house is missing one wall, and both of their vehicles are destroyed. More storms are headed their way. I will post more information when I can.

I can only think of one thing to say here, the shortest scripture: JESUS WEPT. 

Joplin Missouri, May 22nd


Filed under Faith, Missouri, NEWS, Ozarks, Religion, The Four States