Sunday, May 22, 2022

Eleven years ago today: Death, destruction hit Joplin, Missouri

(This post was originally published on the Huffington Post and the Turner Report on May 23, 2011 and is included in the 10th anniversary edition of 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado.)

Each year, my eighth graders at Joplin East Middle School look forward to their first official visit to Joplin High School.

They have heard the horror stories about the school, how they, as freshmen the next year, will need to stay clear of the seniors who have worked their way up to the top of the food chain.

They speak in hushed whispers of Eagle Alley, a near mythical hallway that one almost needs a guide to navigate.

That first trip, which was scheduled for Wednesday, will never happen.

Eagle Alley is a thing of the past. After the devastating killer tornado that ripped through the heart of my city Sunday night, Joplin High School, the place where so many of my former students have learned the skills they need to succeed in life, the place where they made friends, created memories, and prepared for their passage into adulthood exists only in memory.

At least 89 people are reported dead and hundreds injured as a result of the first major tornado to hit Joplin in four decades.

Those of us who were fortunate enough not to be in the path of the storm (it hit approximately a quarter of a mile from the apartment complex where I live) waited in the center of a darkened city, praying that loved ones had somehow managed to remain safe in what reporters were describing as a scene from a war zone.

With nearly all power gone in this city of 50,000, the night sky was still illuminated by jagged streaks of lightning in the distance and by the lights from emergency vehicles as they passed every few seconds.

When morning arrived, we were greeted by a sun that seemed almost foreign in light of what had happened.

And now the waiting begins. Every few moments I scan through Facebook postings, heartened by messages that indicate my students and former students are alive. So far, none have been listed among the casualties through word of mouth, but it may be only a matter of time. Officials have yet to release any of the names of those who were killed.

The Joplin School District has canceled classes for today and they may well be finished for the school year, which had another nine days to go. Three of our school buildings are gone forever and the middle school where I teach no longer has a roof.

Many of my former students received their high school diplomas Sunday afternoon during graduation ceremonies at Missouri Southern State University, commemorating their achievements over the past four years at Joplin High School. Now that ceremony, which should have been a memorable milestone in their young lives, will always be tainted by tragedy.

As I write these words, slightly more than 14 hours have passed since the city of Joplin was changed forever.

The welcoming sunshine of just an hour ago has vanished, replaced by darkening clouds and the steady, insistent rumbling of thunder.

And now we wait.

(Photo- East Middle School after the tornado/Randy Turner)


From reviews for the 10th anniversary edition of 5:41: Stories From the Joplin Tornado:

I feel this is the best book on the Joplin event.

This book is a very meaningful read. It’s insane that it’s been 10 years since the tornado happened. Thankful that the authors could collect all these pictures and stories for us.

Great information and with photos never seen before , I highly recommend this to read and to give as a gift.

From someone who was right in the middle of the tornado it explains what we all went thru. If you're curious what it was like that day, this is your book.

5:41 is the most comprehensive book available on the Joplin Tornado, with the 10th anniversary edition featuring 528 pages and including more than 120 photos.

5:41 is available in Joplin at Always Buying Books, The Book Guy and Changing Hands Book Shoppe and is available from Amazon at this link.

Copies of the book can also be ordered directly from author Randy Turner at the PayPal button below or by sending $30 (including sales tax and shipping) to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. A, Joplin, MO 64801

No comments:

Post a Comment

Eleven years ago today: Death, destruction hit Joplin, Missouri

(This post was originally published on the Huffington Post and the Turner Report on May 23, 2011 and is included in the 10th anniversary edi...