Editor’s note: Joplin, Missouri, is a small town in the U.S. Heartland. Its official population is 50,150. But now, it is tragically smaller in every sense, after the May 22 tornado that left 122 dead, 750 injured, and more than a quarter of the town destroyed. Phyllis Freeman, our domestic emergency response director, is on the ground in Joplin.
I went looking for a school and found Irving Elementary School. It was mangled, the bricks blown apart.
You can only think about the children who lived through this, seeing the skies turn black, hearing the roar of 200-mph winds, and watching the tornado chew things up, literally.
Then they emerged to find their home gone, not knowing what’s happened to their friends, maybe their parents.
The worst is yet to come for these children. In several more days, it will sink in what everything means. The emotional toll is immense. People are in such stress.
Churches are pulling together and being the beacon they should be. They are providing supplies as well as hands to remove debris and cut away trees and branches.
In 14 years doing disaster response, I have never, ever seen a weather season in the United States this severe. Natural disasters just keep coming. And the hurricane season doesn’t officially start here until June 1.
In response to the disaster, World Vision will soon move in a 24-foot trailer with expandable walls, which will be located near FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) operations. The trailer will be used as a Child-Friendly Space.
Meanwhile, we’re providing clothing and hygiene kits, which, along with food, are among the items most often requested by survivors and FEMA.
World Vision response teams also continue helping survivors in Alabama, following the deadly tornadoes that struck there in late April. In the city of Tuscaloosa, World Vision has served 4,233 tornado survivors, including 1,896 children, since April 27.
We’re also closely monitoring the flooding along the Mississippi River, along with the possibility of more tornadoes predicted to strike in Oklahoma this week.
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