Joplin Relief Update – The Car

The Car

Last night, we had a guest for dinner.  His name was Daniel.  He lived in the “ground zero” area of Joplin and we asked him to come and share his story.  He has raised six kids but on the day of the storm, only his wife and youngest daughter were at home.  His other kids and grandkids were scattered around town.

He said it was incredibly calm and he actually never heard the sirens.   However, he saw his cat go from being perfectly calm to running through the house.  He knew it was time to move.  They all ran into the master bath and huddled together.  Then it happened.  He remembers saying to his wife and daughter, “Here we go.”  He held onto his wife as the storm began to rip apart their home.  He could feel his wife but at some point could no longer feel his daughter.  He remembers yelling to his wife, “where is (daughters name)?!”  However, he said it was so loud he could not even hear his own voice and she could not hear him either.  Then the tub they were in started to lean.  He remembers yelling, but not hearing his voice because it was so loud.

The thing we have learned from being here is that it is not the wind itself that knocks down homes or strips trees of their bark.  It is the debris flying into the homes at 200+ mph.  Things like refrigerators, cars, bricks, etc.  We visited Daniel’s home and saw where three, sixteen foot, 2 x 12 boards that were nailed together that went through the back of the house, in and out of the refrigerator and then back out the house.  It was not tossed into the house, it was rocketed.  This debris has a sandblasting or shotgun effect.  Only, instead of little grains of sand, it is things like boats, cars, roofs of homes, etc.

At some point, the roof lifted off his house.  He said he did not see it happen because they were all looking down as they were huddled together.  Meanwhile, walls began to fall on them.  Then… it was over.

At some point, his wife assured him that she still had their daughter.  In fact, she had held her so tight that she actually bruised herself.  Somehow in the chaos Daniel’s arm was broke.  He used that arm to shove two large walls out of the way in order for them to get out of the now destroyed home.  He said he would love to have the video of that moment when he pushed those walls out, because as a man, it was AWESOME!

Once out of the house, the family sat down in what was once their flower bed.  They just sat their in shock.  Shock at what had happened.  Shock at what their neighborhood now looked like.  Shock that they were alive.

A couple of weeks before the tornado.  Daniel bought a car for his son who turns 17 next week.  He planned to give that car to his son as a birthday gift.  It was one of four cars they lost in the tornado.  It was not insured.  The birthday gift was gone.

Since the storm, Daniel has been volunteering his time shuttling volunteers around town and trying to get his family moved into their new home.  That was actually the home we painted on Thursday.  He is a good man with a big heart.  We decided, this man needs a gift to give his son next week and we have a car!

So, last night, we invited him for dinner.  He shared his story, breaking many times to put his hand over his mouth and look up, in an attempt not to cry.  He voice cracked as he shared the details of his story.  He also shared that since this time, he has had a chance to witness to his neighbor who did not go to church.  Last Sunday, he baptized his neighbor.  He said, “I will gladly lose my house to gain a brother.”  Wow.

After his story, we surprised him and presented him the keys and title to the car.  He was speechless and his eyes were filled with tears.  He drove it away that evening and that, in many ways, was the “happily ever after” of our trip.  Only, we know it is not.  There is still SO much to do here.  I cannot adequately explain to you the destruction we have seen.

We bumped into a man from the Army Core of Engineers on Wednesday.  He has been with the Core since the 1960’s and has worked every major storm since Hurricane Camille.  He told us, “In all my years, this is the worst I have ever seen.”

Enough said.

Please continue to pray for the people of Joplin.

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