We just got back from the disaster zone last night, but I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for your thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and financial support. It's greatly needed right now as we have a long road ahead of us.
We are very fortunate that my mom and grandma weren't hurt during the storm, and we continue to remind ourselves of that as we pick up the pieces. All of us are beyond fried after spending a week in the disaster area. The one uplifting thing was the amazing outpouring of support from volunteers and citizens alike. We were overwhelmed by the volunteers who came throughout the week, but especially on Saturday. They tarped the entire roof and cleared huge piles of debris from the yard. At one point, we had 30 people at our house alone.
I've been asked for photos of the Joplin area, but after going back through them, they don't begin to represent the wasteland that has been left behind by the tornado. I've found a few videos that will give you a glimpse of the destruction, but it really has to be seen to be believed. Even then, the human brain just isn't equipped to process such a thing. It's truly incomprehensible.
Here are links to the videos (not taken by me):
Before I got to Joplin, I had heard about a video that had been taken during the tornado. It was at a convenience store about 10 blocks west of where my mom lived. You can't see much in the video, but the sounds alone give you a faint idea of what it must be like to live through a tornado. It was horrific for me to listen to and realize that's exactly the same terror my mom and grandma probably experienced as they took cover in the hallway of their home. I must warn you that I sobbed uncontrollably while listening to it, so it isn't for the faint of heart:
We met with the insurance adjuster yesterday, and as I was suspecting, he isn't willing to total the house unless he finds more structural damage aside from the roof framing. He wants us to repair it, which is going to be a major feat, because it needs to be gutted almost completely due to the extensive water damage, blown-out windows, and holes in the roof. To lighten my mom's load a bit, I'm now in the process of navigating the complicated claims process, getting bids from contractors, and starting the rebuilding process. The problem is, my mom doesn't want to live in an endless wasteland for years. I don't blame her, because being there is so demoralizing. We are hoping we can repair the house and then rent it to a family who still needs shelter.
I realize I've rambled on a bit, but you can imagine that my mind is going a million miles a minute, and it's been that way since May 22. I've slept very little in the past 9 days, and I lost 5 pounds in the same amount of time. I didn't even know that was possible!
Again, I want to thank everyone for everything. My mom and grandma are both fiercely independent, and they would never dream of asking for financial assistance on their own. But they are facing a devastating situation and can use as much support they can get.
Sometimes it helps to put faces with names, so I thought I'd share their photos with you.
I'll check back in as things progress. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.