After the Storm
An account from Neosho National Fish Hatchery staff after an EF-5 tornado struck the neighboring town of Joplin, Missouri on May 22
June 15, 2011
There was a 9pm curfew last Monday-Thursday. I know quite a few of us were driving around Joplin by the end of last week. Empire Electric worked quickly so that the main streets of town and many neighborhoods had power. Police were brought in 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. Speaking personally, I think we will go back and get photos of our Catholic church that collapsed. My fiance and I were going to get married there and now we're not sure what we'll do! 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 possessions or our lives. 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 11th. 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 scrapes and minor injuries.
Jaime Pacheco, biologist, volunteered last Friday with Americorps helping pick up just some of the enormous amount of debris caused by the tornado. My fiance and I are signed up to volunteer also and are awaiting additional duties that can be completed after work hours. I know we have also donated whatever they said they were needing at the time to the cause. These include things like diapers, diaper wipes, blankets, towels, washcloths, children's underwear and sandals, adult underwear and flip flops. We've also donated nonperishable food items. There will be a need for us to donate more in the future so we have been staying involved with the media's updates for whatever they might need. 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, biologist at 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, Missouri. The majority of what I have done is tree removal and a lot of chainsaw time. I also donated some food and clothes. There is a lot of work still needed to be done and I expect to continue to volunteer as much as I can during the coming months.
- Jaime Pacheco, biologist at Neosho National Fish Hatchery