By now you've surely heard about the destruction wreaked upon Joplin, Missouri by a tornado on Sunday evening. I first learned about it later that night when I checked my email. My mom has a cousin who lives in Joplin with her husband, and someone on the extended family email list sent a quick message to report that C and husband T escaped the storm, but were without power. Since then, C herself has sent a few more emails with details about their experience and the state of their town. I don't have her permission to just copy and paste what she's written, so I'll just paraphrase and summarize here.
It just sounds so awful. Electricity is limited, and a lot of cell phone towers went down in the storm, so communication is extremely difficult. 1500 people are unaccounted for, but workers think most of them were out of town, or managed to leave town after the storm, and just haven't had a way to report in. They still expect to find people trapped in basements as they clean up. No one but trained rescue and emergency workers are allowed into the damaged areas. Hotels are booked for 50 miles, and there isn't a rental car available "from Tulsa to Kansas City." People who have lived in Joplin all their lives can't find their way around because the destruction s so massive, and street signs are no longer standing. C has been organizing temporary housing, shelter and laundry facilities in their development. Some houses are so crowded with extra people and pets that people are spending most of their time outside. She watched a child sitting in the middle of the road practicing his viola.
It's been an extraordinary few months for natural disasters, hasn't it? Earthquake in Japan, record storms in the Midwest and South, the Mississippi floodwaters...It's like a slow apocalypse. The world didn't end all at once last Saturday like that old guy predicted; instead, it's happening one disaster at a time. If global warming is to blame for the storms (not the earthquakes, obviously), well, what more of a wake up call do we need?
I've read and heard in various news accounts of people comparing the destruction in Joplin to the destruction caused by bombs. One guy said it looked like Dresden, another guy mentioned Hiroshima. Now, I know these people are in the middle of a traumatic experience, and I don't doubt that Joplin does look like a war zone, so I don't want to come down too hard on them. But seriously, Hiroshima? Dresden? 100,000 people were completely annihilated when the atomic bomb was dropped. Dresden was carpet-bombed and untold thousands died. It's not a fair comparison. I don't know about these guys on the news, but the irony was not lost on me that they compared their town to cities bombed by Americans more than 60 years ago.
In any case, it seems to me that we should stop dropping bombs on people all together. Nature seems to be doing plenty of damage on her own.