In the aftermath of the tornado that hit Joplin just before sundown on May 22, the death toll now stands at 116, which makes “it the deadliest single tornado in nearly 60 years,” reports ABC News
The tornado destroyed Joplin High School, rendered the St. John’s Regional Medical Center useless, and demolished numerous businesses that were in its path.
Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles was quoted by MSNBC
as saying “It cut the city in half.”
Joplin, a city with approximately 50,000 residents, had 20,000 homes and businesses without power on Monday.
“Reports said the huge Home Depot Store, the Walgreens Pharmacy and the 15th Street Walmart, and the businesses around that part of Range Line were destroyed or badly damaged," noted the Sulphur Daily News
The damage to businesses in the heart of Joplin was photographed by Grant Deardorff. Deardoff is a resident of neighboring town, Webb City, MO, and is a Community Manager-Health Initiatives for the American Cancer Society. Deardorff was in Joplin, Missouri on Sunday evening and provided assistance to victims. While there he took a number of photographs that truly capture the extent of the devastation. Deardorff agreed to share those photographs and their descriptions with this reporter.
As noted above, a huge Home Depot Store was destroyed. Below are two images of that destruction.
The following photograph is of what remains of a Burger King restaurant. If you look in the background, you can see that the playground was relatively unharmed by the tornado. Deardorff noted that "the play area is relatively well built and 'safe.'"
Deardorff also captured images of what he described as "Lucky Wal-Mart employees" because "Several didn't make it." One of those images is below.
Deardorff described what he saw on Sunday night as he looked at what remained of the 15th Street Walmart. Deardorff wrote:
Work carried into the night clearing debris at Wal-Mart. May take all night and more to search. They were using a backhoe, track hoe, bobcat, and had work lights set up. Someone had a blueprint and they were trying to clear debris to get to where people were last sighted. Bicycles were still sitting on their racks, and clothes still hung on hangers at the back of the store - while concrete walls collapsed and the roof was nowhere in sight.
The Plaza Apartments were located to the right of the Walmart Store. Upon arriving at the scene of the destruction pictured below, Deardorff said, "The air was filled with the sounds of several car alarms, and at least a dozen smoke detectors all singing out of the broken apartments."
Further, when talking about the Plaza Apartments, Deardorff wrote:
Spoke with the man that lived on the 3rd floor. Helped him get his guitar, laptop, and clothes down from his apartment. He and his wife were on the 3rd floor in the bathroom. She in the tub, him over her. He stood up, and the roof was sucked off as he did. He was thrown into the closet by the tub, and they both lied there until it passed. No roof, no front walls remain.
Deardorff also photographed what was occurring on Sunday evening at the location of a former cell phone store. The first photo is the parking lot of the former cell phone store and the second photo is of rescue workers and volunteers carrying people out of the remains of the store.
According to the Joplin Globe
, Lynn Onstott, the city’s public information director, “acknowledged that both food and water shortages may become problems as the crisis continues.” She added, “But at this time, our first priority remains search and rescue.”
Those seeking assistance or information from the American Red Cross
should dial 1-417-659-5464.
If you are interested in volunteering to help people in Joplin impacted by the tornado, you can contact the United Way of Greater St. Louis
. They are seeking volunteers with areas of expertise such as medical, electrical, and construction and those who have equipment to lend (backhoe, truck, bobcat, forklift, etc.).
According to the United Way, “Your Heart of Missouri United Way is mobilizing to provide desperately needed relief and we need your help!” To make a donation, please visit their website