A Third Of Joplin Gone After Tornado Ravages City

Monday, May 23rd 2011, 7:35 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

JOPLIN, Missouri – The half-mile wide tornado that swept through Joplin created a six mile long debris path.  Block after block neighborhoods are wiped out. An estimated 30 percent of Joplin was destroyed.

Hundreds of homes are leveled, cars thrown about and now heartache hangs over the city of 50,000 people.

Sara Coffin and her two young daughters were inside their home when tornado moved it 20 feet, leaving only the walls.

"We ran to the bathroom. I got the kids in and I swooped everything off the bed and put a mattress over us and held it down really tight," Coffin said.

Coffin is now looking for her daughters favorite stuffed animal and trying to come to grips with the tornado's aftermath.

"Loud and scary, mainly my kids were screaming. I was just praying to God, he kept us all safe," she said.

Jim Cooks of Jenks came to check on his 97-year-old step mother who survived the tornado.

"A gentleman came over and pulled her out. She's got some scrapes and bruises and she's pretty sore today, but she's a trooper," Cooks said.

While she survived, Cook's boyhood home—like so many homes—didn't. The devastation is hard to see firsthand.

When the tornado ripped through Joplin, St John's Medical Center took a direct hit.

The staff had just moments to move patients to safety in hallways before the twister hit the 9 story building. At least four of the people killed were at the hospital. Patients were rushed to other hospitals in the area.

Just beyond the hospital, emergency crews are going through the rubble looking for more bodies. Many of the dead were found in the wreckage of the cars.

Even amidst the devastation and hurting there are small moments of gratefulness, like Sara Coffin finding her daughters stuffed dog, or volunteers stepping in to help their neighbors.

Even among heartache there is hope.

Related Stories:

05/23/2011 Death Toll Climbs To 116 In Joplin, Missouri Tornado
05/23/2011 SkyNews6 Shows Devastation Of Deadly Tornado In Joplin, Missouri
05/23/2011 Volunteers Urged Not To 'Self Deploy' To Tornado-Ravaged Joplin, Missouri
05/23/2011 How To Help Joplin Residents Devastated By Sunday's Deadly Tornado