On Sunday, May 22, 2011 a massive EF5-rated multiple-vortex tornado ripped its way through Joplin, Missouri. At one point in time it measured a mile wide. Overall, the tornado killed 161 people and injured about 1150 people. About 8000 buildings were destroyed for an estimated 2.8 billion dollars of property damages. It is the seventh deadliest tornado in American history and the mostly costly.
It was heart wrenching and continues to live in the collective consciousness of those in the area, even those of us who live an hour away.
The tornado destroyed the homes, park and hospital in the area that is now Cunningham and Mercy parks. I made a little trip to these parks yesterday and was deeply touched by the experience. The Cunningham Park is a great family-friendly park with a moving memorial to the victims and survivors of the tornado.
The steel frames of the memorial are outlines, so to speak, of the houses that were there prior to the storm.
Within the frames of the houses lies a water feature (although there was no water running in it at this present moment) and a butterfly garden (although there were no butterflies at this present time, as well; I will have to go back in the spring or summer).
This sign overlooks the victim's memorial and in the distance you can see the chapel that has been built on the former site of the St. John's hospital.
This memorial included mosaics made from items found within the wreckage.
And includes tributes to the volunteers that helped in the aftermath.
The butterfly has special significance as multiple children reported having a butterfly come to their rescue.
The steel band is a tribute to the "miracle of the human spirit."
I find this photo to be particularly poignant as the ring encircles the image of the chapel in the background.
I went across to the street to Mercy park to take a look at the chapel.
Again,the butterfly was featured prominently.
"We are Joplin."
I also enjoyed the natural offerings...
...and even the less natural offerings.
Truly, a memorable little trip - touching!
P.S. If you want to read a little more about the tornado here are several online sources that I found to be interesting. This one is a blog entry about the park. This one shows one of the houses that is memorialized with the steel frames. And, this one shares a recollection of what happened inside the hospital during and just after the tornado hit it.