I arrived here in Joplin around 11:00 a.m. this morning, and while driving to Headquarters, inadvertently drove through the thick of the tornado damage.
Recognize this? Took me a minute, but it's a Taco Bell....
I took a few photos, but didn't stop to linger, as there's almost a sense of guilt when looking at other people's houses destroyed. It's as if we're looking at their soul being ripped from them - and it's painful. Very painful.
It was also difficult to take photos when you're trying to navigate down a debris-laden street, hoping you don't blow a tire by driving over stuff you shouldn't be. Yeah. It's that bad.
This was just one block that we drove down - so take this and multiply it by the dozens...and you'll get a sense of the magnitude of the destruction.
After arriving at Headquarters, my partner, Bob, and I were assigned to drive the ERV out of Little Rock, AR.
The clouds have looked threatening all day...
We visited the shelter, where over 400 people are currently living at. Wow. It was crazy. But at least it was a roof over their heads.
We spent most of the day running errands, picking up supplies, delivering supplies, and then loading up our trucks for tomorrow. I thought I was doing feeding, but have been reassigned to "Bulk Distribution." What does this mean?
This means that tomorrow, Bob and I will be stationed at St. John's Hospital - the epicenter of the disaster - where we will distribute supplies to the people of Joplin. Tarps, raingear, rakes, gloves, comfort kits, water, snacks, coolers - we have it all, and our ERV is loaded to the rafters, ready to go.
Guess who carried all this stuff to the ERV? Moi. Guess who loaded it oh-so-carefully? Moi. Guess who looked like a monkey as I climbed over everything, hoping I wouldn't break my neck? Moi. I'm quite skilled, apparently.
Our sleeping quarters are quite nice, for Red Cross standards. Some Red Cross volunteers have to drive an hour away to Pittsburg State University in Kansas, but we managed to snag some dorm rooms at Missouri Southern State University. I got lucky and got a private room - woot! - and I'm settled in for the night and ready to catch some zzzz's.
It ain't the Ritz...but it beats a cot in a FEMA tent....
Went out to dinner with 8 other ERV drivers and then, time to hit the hay.
Long day - but even longer tomorrow and the weeks to come.