I spent my Saturday volunteering in tornado-ravaged Joplin with a group of 14 OSU-COM students. What an incredibly emotional experience.
Driving into the city, I had to hold back tears. It was cold and damp and broken. Crushed cars, snapped telephone poles, twisted metal. Completely unreal.
There are no photographs or video clips that can adequately convey the utter devastation.
We spent the day cleaning debris from front yards. Hours of hard work, and we partially cleaned the yards of four houses. Such a small amount of help for a city with miles of damaged homes. They will need volunteers for a long time. I plan to go back soon.
With all the damage and all the heartache, I left Joplin with an incredible feeling of hope.
We spoke with a homeowner that survived the storm by huddling in a closet with ten people and a dog. His home was destroyed, his truck was smashed, but he told me how lucky he was to get through without losing anyone.
We saw people handing out food and water to volunteers, offering words of encouragement and gratitude. We saw strangers working together to make things better.
Joplin may be damaged, but it’s people are strong and unbroken. They will recover.
If you would like to see the rest of the photos from this adventure, check them out here!