Much of Joplin is without power and hundreds are without homes after a powerful tornado swept through the area Sunday evening. 

Much of Joplin is without power and hundreds are without homes after a powerful tornado swept through the area Sunday evening.  


The storm reduced Joplin’s 15th Street Walmart Supercenter to rubble, heavily damaged the Home Depot near 20th, slammed into Joplin High School and tore off part of the roof at St. John’s Hospital, destroying the subdivision across the street.


With a lightning backdrop from a second powerful storm to the south, sirens played into the night as rescue workers searched for those trapped by the storm. I-44 was still closed at midnight and tangled semi-trucks visible in the light of emergency vehicles.


Tornado victims packed out what they could carry. Some toted laundry baskets or suitcases with clothes for the days ahead. Others held picture frames, a few, last treasured mementos. Driving out was not an option. The streets were full of cars that were crushed, missing windows, or wrapped around trees. Trees choked neighborhood roads while downed powerlines dangled nearby. The smell and steady hiss of leaking natural gas lines filled the air. A home near  21st and Kentucky survived the storm only to burn to the ground, a pair of toppled trees blocking the road.


March Boch of Eldorado Springs came to Joplin to visit and walked out. Two by fours splintered the tires of his F-150. He spent Sunday afternoon putting up a basketball goal.


“It’s gone,” Boch said, “Well, the sand is still there.”


The family huddled in a basement bathroom during the storm, which left with a pop.


“You could hear things flying everywhere,” he said.


The storm lasted for nearly 10 minutes, said resident Charles A. Fisher.


“It was like the freight train pulled up and decided to stay,” Fisher said.


He huddled in a bathroom, praying the rosary, while the storm howled outside. When it was over his home was gone. A staircase held up the wall to the bathroom where he, his two dogs and roommate Daniel Winter rode out the storm.


“Our toilet still flushes,” Fisher said.


 “It’s just a miracle,” Winter said.  


Fisher, sitting in a salvaged chair on the street corner and still fingering his rosary beads, said while he may still be in shock from the ordeal he plans to keep a good attitude.


“We don’t know we’re in God’s hands more now than any other time in our lives,” Fisher said. “Life is a journey and God is cradling us in the palm of his hand because we survived.”