Being a meteorologist, it is part of the job to inform the public, you the viewers, on how the weather is. Both the good and bad events. But we are always more focused on getting the information out and making sure everyone is safe. That you never get to see a personal side of how a tragedy, like the one that is occurring right now in Joplin, MO , hits close to home. And in this case, I can honestly say it has for me.
As all of you already know I got my start in my broadcast meteorology career down in Joplin in 2009. I spent nearly a year and a half of my life there. I can go on about how much I got to know that city up and down. I can remember the beautiful scenery of the historic downtown district, shopping at The Northpark Mall, watching movies at Hollowood Theaters, going to church every Sunday morning at St. Mary TMs Catholic Church, and going grocery shopping on the 15th Street and Rangline Road Wal-Mart. But it was no place like home in my apartment complex The Docks by 20th Street and my job at the CBS/FOX TV station. No matter where I would go to in Joplin, it was the people and the community that made my stay there so wonderful. Everywhere I went, people would stop and say Hi and smile, help me out if I needed it, or just have a nice little chat. That TMs what made me feel like Joplin was my second home. It was bittersweet for me when I left.
When I was in the KTVO Accuweather Storm Center Sunday afternoon and the weather reports were coming in for the tornado warning for Joplin, I was looking at the radar and weather models as it was passing over the city and immediately thought about my co-workers, friends, neighbors, and the community as a whole as I can imagine the sirens going off and everyone taking cover for their lives. When I walked into the newsroom as the first pictures were coming in of the damage, I felt a shockwave in my body as I was trying to make out which part of the city the news outlets were. It wasn TMt until I saw the first picture of the now devastated St. John TMs hospital was when I knew this wasn TMt going to be good.
As the night went on and the many damage reports that were coming in by the hour, I was praying that everyone I knew would be ok. It wasn TMt until I got a hold of some friends on social media sites of when I finally had a clear picture of what became of my former community. My apartment complex is completely gone as 20th Street became the center zone of the heart of the tornado as it rolled through Joplin. Everything I ever knew and saw on anything of that street has been ripped off its foundation. Joplin High School, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, my beauty salon, my bank|just to name a few is now all gone.
It TMs been hard to know that the Joplin I lived, worked, and knew is forever gone. Despite all the damage, I have been very thankful to hear from most of my former co-workers and neighbors that they have lived through this tragic event. But at the same time my heart goes out to those who are injured or died as a result of the tornado.
I know the people of Joplin are going though a rough time right now. But I believe that in the worse of times, the best in people come out. I TMm proud to see how the community is coming together to help. I have faith that Joplin will rebuild and come back and be an inspiration to this nation. So to all of Joplin, our thoughts and prayers go out to you. I know everything will be alright. We are here in The Heartland thinking of you and here to lend you a helping hand.