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Inside R3: After the Tornado: Joplin, Missouri
Midwest Region, July 14, 2011
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Twisted metal after the storm in Joplin, Mo.
Twisted metal after the storm in Joplin, Mo. - Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo

On May 22, a devastating EF-5 tornado struck the town of Joplin, Mo. The following are accounts from staff at the neighboring Neosho National Fish Hatchery.

There was a 9 p.m. curfew on Monday-Thursday after the storm. Empire Electric worked quickly to restore power to the main streets and neighborhoods. Police came from places like Tulsa and St. Louis to help keep the streets safe and prevent looting.

We saw some horrible things. I did have my fiance take a photo while I was driving. The photos are just too real and I do feel guilty taking photos since there are just hundreds of houses reduced to rubble. So too was the Catholic church we attend. Our priest
was hiding in the bathtub during the tornado. The rectory also collapsed on him but luckily parishioners helped him dig out of the mess.

Also my house was directly in line with the tornado’s path but it drifted southeast as it was leaving the city limits. I think we all feel very fortunate that we didn’t lose our lives or our possessions. We all know it could have been one of us or our loved ones eating at Pizza Hut or shopping at Home Depot on that Sunday night.

My fiance and I have friends that were caught in the tornado. They were painting the inside of a building meant to be a gym for
children. The gym was set to open June 11. Our friends survived the tornado in their truck which was parked inside the gym. Sadly
the place is only a concrete slab now and the truck was destroyed. The good news is that our friends walked away with only few scrapes and bruises.

Jaime Pacheco, Neosho National Fish Hatchery biologist, volunteered with Americorps. She helped pick up some of the debris. My fiance and I plan to volunteer again. At present, we are awaiting additional duties.

Many donations came in to aid the cause. These included things like diapers, diaper wipes, blankets, towels, washcloths, children’s underwear and sandals, adult underwear, flip flops, and nonperishable food items. We also know that there will be a future need for volunteers so I speak for Jaime and myself when I say that we will continue to volunteer outside of work every chance we get.

--Melissa Cheung
Neosho National Fish Hatchery

During my time off I signed up as a volunteer to help with the debris removal from the tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. I mostly removed trees and put in a lot of chainsaw time. I also donated some food and clothes.

A lot of work still needs to be done. I expect to continue to volunteer as much as I can during the coming months.

-- Jaime Pacheco
Neosho National Fish Hatchery


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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