|From 2011 0627 Joplin|
June 27, 2011: The thousands of drivers who pass by Joplin, Missouri, every day on Interstate Highway I-44 notice nothing different. The Cracker Barrel, the Steak 'n Shake, the Waffle House are all still there serving whatever it is they serve. But exit the freeway and drive north on Range Line Road and you begin to notice growing changes. Business signs not quite vertical. Blue tarps on roofs. Banners in front of boarded up store fronts advertising "Open for Business." By the time you get to 20th Street there is no missing it. Something bad, something very bad happened here. Whole city blocks, for several miles, where there should be houses and shade trees and kids playing, are now a disaster area empty of everything except for piles of rubble, uprooted or shredded trees, and isolated work crews looking like they don't know where to start to put things right again. For the 159 victims of the May 21 tornado, and the thousands of survivors, friends and relatives, things will never be right again. Even a brief visit to the city, five weeks after the storm, leaves one stunned by the enormity of the damage.
For more photos, look here.