EF5:: chapter 6 (six months: victims moving on)

     It’s been 6 months since May 22nd. I am a Joplin Missouri resident, and for me and anyone else who has lived here, that date will forever ring out. The day that an F5 tornado ripped our town in half, claimed lives, left thousands homeless- and also sparked one of the greatest triumphs of kindness I believe this country has surely ever seen.

After disaster hit, countless, countless volunteers poured in with physical help, donations, and great love. Those who didn’t know how they’d ever get back on their feet found themselves standing stronger than before the twister. My family is one of those stories… but there are thousands of others.

   I’ve documented a lot of things tied to this event; the 6 month mark reminds me again of how blessed I am, and how blessed this town is after an event that could’ve, should’ve been many times more devastating than it turned out to be. Here are others who share my thankfulness, with stories of their own that I only offer a glimpse of right now with a picture and a caption.

 If you’d like to see more post tornado documentation of Joplin, jump back to the last post in this vein here and work your way backwards through the chapters. Or stay tuned; I plan to compile these images & others in a tribute book on the 1 year anniversary of May 22, 2011.

   Three members of the Miranda family holed up in their hallway closet during the storm. They stand in their torn up kitchen. They were still fighting with their insurance company to get their home properly repaired at the time of this photo; but their good attitude & love for eachother is so unmistakable. 

Mitchell Miranda & his best friend Isaiah were in home depot when the storm hit, taking cover in a manhole during the eye of the tornado. 

Manny was a faithful volunteer at a local pop up mission, nearly every day for long after the storm. He isn’t quick to let you know that he lost his home along w/ all the folks who wander into the mission for supplies. He just keeps serving.


this elderly gentleman received injuries that landed him in this scooter, after saving his wife’s life by getting her into a bathroom where she was protected from the debris of the twister. This picture was taken as he waited for the demolition crew to take down his house… he wanted to be there to see it go.

Ann Leach was in her house when the roof blew off and the tornado pounded her with debris. She has been busier than ever since the storm helping others through her grief recovery therapy, an occupation very much valued in Joplin these last few months. Her exceptionally cheery outlook is evident as she proudly stands in the living room of her new home after living with friends for months.

The Robertsons weathered the storm in a closet next to this room, where you can see sections of the roof missing and scattered insulation. Their new baby was taken home to a hotel room where they lived for months after May 22. They are since relocated to a neighboring town & have moved on with great thankfulness that they & their children were saved.

The Howards are now well known by many, having been one of the deserving recipients of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition homes. Father & husband Kyle is a fireman who was very involved directly after the storm helping injured & trapped victims.


If you have volunteered or donated, there will never be enough thanks for you. If you haven’t had the chance, and feel inspired to help victims that are still struggling, please visit www.rebuildjoplin.org. Your donations are so helpful and appreciated by ordinary folks moving on through extraordinary circumstances.

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