Monday, March 11, 2013

From Scars from the Tornado: I Am Proud to Call Joplin My Home

The following story, written by eighth grader Taylor Robinson, is featured in the newly-published book Scars from the Tornado: One Year at Joplin East Middle School. The book is available now through Wednesday evening as a free e-book download.

Who would have thought such a tragedy could happen to Joplin?

Trust me, that is not what was on my mind when I was at Grand Lake in Grove, Okla. The weather was so nice. Beams of sunlight peeked through the clouds and the water felt good on my hot skin.

After a while, it started to get cloudy, so we headed toward the docks. The wind blew through my hair as we rode to the campground. We hooked the boats up to our trucks. It was around 4:30 p.m. Our parents started talking, so my friend, Kayden, and I went inside her camper and got some snacks.

Kayden’s parents were in the middle of building a camp, so they were carrying logs to the side of the shelter. My parents and their friends stayed to help and all of the six kids let out a small cheer. We got to hang out longer!

We went inside Kayden’s camper again and started to play Monopoly. After about an hour, we got bored. All of the kids came outside with Kayden and me. The time was now a little after 5:40 p.m. We wanted to listen to music on Kissin’ 92.5. We were ready to sing and dance, but that excitement quickly disappeared.

My parents’ friend turned on the radio in her Jeep and what we heard was definitely not music. A guy was talking loud and fast in a panicky voice. I heard him say something about a tornado in Joplin and I was a bit confused. I mean, nothing ever hits Joplin, so I figured it was a minor tornado that blew about five shingles off a couple of roofs.

I was wrong.

We listened a bit longer and the reports of damage kept getting worse. My mother logged onto Facebook and the news feed was overflowing with comments about this tornado. My mom came across one that said 18th Street was gone.

That was my street!

I choked back tears and tried to stay strong so I wouldn’t worry the younger kids who were with me. I was scared because I did not know what Joplin was like or if it was as bad as everyone said it was. I longed to know if Joplin was okay, if my friends, family, and neighbors were still alive, and if my house was really affected.

The little kids didn’t know what was happening, and for a moment, neither did I. Kayden already had tears streaming down her face. All of the four families rushed to their cars. We were soon on the road heading for Joplin. My head was going berserk. So many questions were running through my mind and I had a lot of mixed emotions. My uncle sent a picture of the front of my house. It did not look horrible. After a few seconds, though, I noticed that only our garage was standing and it was barely up. I let out a small whimper, which suddenly turned to tears. I remembered that my dog was at home in the house when the tornado hit.

We texted my uncle to ask and he said there was no sign of Buddy. I tried to stay strong for my sister, but it kept getting harder and harder to choke back my tears. I started to see the destruction as we drove down I-44. These houses did not look too bad, but we drove further and the damage was much worse.

I saw people in hospital gowns being aided and guided down the street. We checked on my grandma and her house was fine, but she wasn’t there. We got back in our car and tried to find our way to our house. The police made us stop and park our car on 24th and Connecticut. We had to walk the rest of the way. I had never seen so much damage in my life. Wires, trees, cars, and many other things were mangled and all over the ground. I saw people walking the streets with leaves/debris in their hair and on their bodies. We approached my street and I took a shaky breath.

I ran down the road, hopping over wires and tree limbs. I looked at what was once my home. My family and I walked up our driveway and our relatives and neighbors surrounded us and gave us hugs. I kept trying to see the house, but they thought it would be too overwhelming. I requested to see my room. I stopped breathing. I started choking, trying not to cry, but I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I fell to the ground bawling. My aunt took me in her arms and held me there until I calmed down.

My room was completely gone; I had nothing left. Broken pieces of my belongings were scattered across the floor and the lawn. My sister’s room was crushed. Pile after pile of debris, some walls, and bedroom furniture. The kitchen, living room, bathrooms, my parents’ room, and all of the other rooms in the house had all of the contents scattered and destroyed.

It was hard to take in reality and understand what was happening, and the next several months after this disaster felt like a dream, but Joplin is coming back stronger and better than ever and I am proud of the hard working citizens, but most importantly, I am proud to call Joplin my home.


Rhonda said...

Hmm, good job! This is really something!

Vernell said...

This is cool!