Tornado Devastates Joplin, Missouri
As a monster tornado bore down on Joplin, Missouri, the fear in a veteran stormchaser's voice became tangible. The eyewitness even frantically shouted to a cop to sound the tornado warning: "Get the sirens going! Get the sirens going!"
And he was not the only horrified onlooker at the mile-wide tornado that tore across the city cutting a path of destruction four miles long. Dozens took shelter in a supermarket, where the loud prayers and people bidding friends their farewells could be heard amidst the chaos.
When the tornado passed, the scene was devastating. The city of 50,000 looked more like a war zone than a functional town, and rescue teams scrambled to find people trapped in the ruins. At least 89 people are reportedly dead.
Unfortunately for Joplin, St. John's Regional Medical Center took a direct hit; each window was shattered and each floor was destroyed. A Medevac helicopter was blown off the roof and lay in the parking lot. Hundreds of sick patients were evacuated, and the building itself may have to be demolished.
The damage was so heart-wrenching that Weather Channel reporter Mike Bettes choked up on live TV at the mere sight of it: "It's tough, no question about that," he said.
After the storm, a spectacular rainbow hung over the city. Perhaps it was a sign of hope, encouraging Joplin's residents to rebuild both their homes and lives.