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Operation Joplin Recruiters
Derek's Story
Three MarineParents staff members drove down to Joplin with a trailer on May 26th to deliver the furniture, household goods, clothes and toiletries and present the family with a check. Each recounts their experiences from that day.

"I knew that the Joplin tornado was disastrous from what the media had been reporting and the images they were showing. Even though these images were devastating and mind-boggling, they couldnít convey the extent of the destruction I saw firsthand in Joplin. After experiencing the aftermath of the tornado and how it tore the Joplin community apart, it instantly hit home that this was reality and not just some obscure event that happened in some obscure part of the world.

When we first pulled into Joplin it was if nothing had happened at all. Everything seemed normal, and there were only minimal signs of wind damage. Once we entered the 11 mile marker on I-44, we saw our first signs of tornado damage for about a quarter of a mile. Then everything seemed normal again.

We drove several exits down and took the Main Street exit. There were cars everywhere. The streets were filled with news reporters, tourists and people there to lend a hand. What took minutes seemed like hours as we waited in line anticipating what lay ahead.

After driving down Main Street about one mile the tornadoís destruction became more and more visible. All of the sudden the ground was level as far as the eye could see. There was debris everywhere, and it was as if a bulldozer ĺ mile wide dropped out of the sky and drove six miles, leveling everything in its path. It truly was one of the most devastating things I have ever seen.

People were everywhere, walking up and down Main Street and in different neighborhoods trying to recoup anything they could salvage from the debris of what used to be their home. One of the most amazing things about the experience was the sense of unity as people from far and wide came to Joplin to lend a hand to anyone in need. Without the help of these individuals, Joplin would still be in ruins and many more casualties would have been encountered.

The family we had originally gone to Joplin to help was very grateful for our services. It was a great feeling knowing that we were helping these people and that there are organizations like, Inc. that are willing to drop everything and lend a hand to someone in need. I know that what we did for that family changed their lives for the better. We allowed them to move on and not have to worry about money and their basic needs while they rebuilt their lives.

Words and pictures cannot express the devastation the tornado caused the community of Joplin. I canít even imagine the chaos and turmoil that occurred right after the tornado hit, but if we can learn anything from these experiences itís that humans come together in times of need and are willing to go out of their way to lend a helping hand."

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