Two years ago today
Hard to believe it was two years ago today that an F5 tornado swept away damn near a third of Joplin, MO.
That day was a Sunday, a lazy day in May and for me a rare day off. I was actually just waking up from a nap when I got the call that there was a tornado heading toward our office, our office that I had my sales team in. All I could think about was getting there. I jumped in my car, at the protests of my wife, and sped to the call center. And I mean sped. As I got close there was debris falling from the sky around me. I was literally dodging tree limbs and building debris as I got to the call center.
The storm had literally ripped the back end of the building off. Due to it being a Sunday the only team there was mine. If it had been a Monday or Saturday the center would have been packed and we would have had some major injuries. As it was no one was hurt, scared as hell, but not hurt.
As I walked into the building I was assaulted with the sound of our alarm systems going off. I sent everyone home to check on their families and started making phone calls to the building owner and my other bosses. The building was a loss. We spent the rest of the night trying to salvage what we could from the equipment. And we ended up having to stand guard from looters. Crazy.
I will never forget I had one of my team members come in crying. She had lost everything in the storm, her home, her car, and all her belongings. She came in and saw the building and said “Oh God I have lost everything, please don’t tell me I have lost my job too.”
At that moment all I could do was tell her we would rebuild and it would be fine. I am very thankful the owners did not make a liar out of me. I knew several folks who were not so lucky.
In the mean time we shared guard duty until we had been able to get all the salvageable equipment out of the building. I was able to contact most of my people through Facebook and truly became thankful for the way social networking helped us find folks we thought we had lost.
In the aftermath of that storm I saw the best of my fellow man. And I saw some of the worst. Aside from the looting we had all kinds of fraud and some price gouging. We all dealt with loss from homes, to friends. The city of Joplin lost landmarks that had stood for years. It was, and is still strange to drive by places that look so different. But the town survived and the people are stronger.
Over time we will rebuild, I work someplace else but not a day goes by I do not think about those people and that day. Surreal does not touch it, frightening was in there but the word that I think describes that day best was confusion. It does not matter how much you think you have prepared for a disaster you are not. We got through it. Joplin is still getting through it.
And Moore, with help and prayer from all corners will get through as well. I think the main reason we all make it through the storms in life is because we are too damn stubborn to call it quits. That is probably one of our most endearing qualities.