I'm almost 49 years old...I've never seen a tornado strip bark off the trees like this one did....
Sometimes, when everything is lost, it's the little things that can make a huge difference.
In my case, I haven't lost anything...and yet, being away from my family, sleeping in a dorm, (and I use the word "sleeping" loosely), getting little rest and pushing my body to its physical limits, I yearn for things that bring me comfort.
My partner and I took five minutes out of our hectic schedule today and stopped at a gas/convenience store, where I purchased a 12-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper and two small bags of peanut butter M&M's.
I am happy. I finally have things that bring me comfort, and I am at peace with the world.
We're noticing small improvements today in Joplin as we scurry from here to there...Power lines are being re-strung; debris is getting pushed further back from the streets, and to our huge relief and joy, the traffic has decreased 10-fold.
Although the national spotlight has moved on from Joplin, as it tends to do in our ever-changing, fast-paced world, the work of the American Red Cross and other relief organizations continues.
We're delivering almost 3,000 meals each day to the residents and workers and volunteers alike...lunch, and then dinner....We could probably deliver more if we had more Red Cross volunteers here with us, but considering that there have been dozens of storms and flooding across the country, our reserves are stretched pretty thin. Because of this, we're pushed even more to do what we can to help.
Police departments from almost every city and county in Missouri are still here...I should know, as they're all staying in the same dorm as I am, and I have to say, I've never felt so safe and secure in my life. It's to the point where I don't lock my dorm room at all anymore - and it's nice to come home and see the presence of over 100 cop cars sitting in your "front yard."
My fellow Red Cross volunteers and I have three restaurants that we "rotate" through each evening for dinner. Many restaurants were destroyed, so the pickings are slim. Our choices are a steakhouse, Mexican or Italian. Last night, it was Logan's Roadhouse, and at one point during dinner, our weary waitress said, "Wow...will you look at that???!"
She points to the waiting area, which is...empty. She continues, "This is the first time it's not been packed since the tornado. I may actually get home before 2:00 in the morning." And she smiles in relief.
As we were driving through a heavily-damaged neighborhood today, we saw a bunny rabbit hopping along. In my "normal" world, a rabbit wouldn't get much attention from me. But here...it was a sign of life. And hope. And it was a sign of wonder..."How the heck did that rabbit survive an F5 tornado?" I said, in disbelief...
If only bunnies could talk.