One of the first things I did when I started working at Channel One a month ago was fly halfway across the country to Joplin, Missouri. That’s the town that was ripped apart last May by a massive tornado. Every person there has a tornado story. And each one is fascinating and riveting. However, as journalists, we don’t cover everything all at once. We just cover one person’s story at a time. And that day’s story was Emma Cox, a rising senior whose home and school were destroyed by the tornado.
Growing up in rural New York State, I know snow storms. They wreak havoc on the Northeast each year. That’s what I think of when I think of bad weather. But snow storms are equal opportunity offenders. By that I mean, they hit EVERYONE equally.
Tornadoes are different. They don’t hit everyone equally. In a tornado, one house will be demolished down to a fireplace and a front door, and the house right next door will be fine. And, it didn’t happen like that just once or twice. Street after street, one side would be intact and the other side wouldn’t even exist.
It, literally, looked like houses disappeared into thin air. It was the most astonishing thing I had ever seen. However, the second most astonishing thing in Joplin was the resiliency of its people.
While I sometimes find myself complaining about New York’s cold winters and hot summers, I didn’t see anyone in Joplin complaining about the tornado. They are simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving on. And, when we asked Emma if she was nervous about next year’s tornado season, she said “no”.
They impressed me so much. I will keep the people of Joplin in mind this winter when I am shoveling out my car. If they didn’t complain about losing their town, I can’t complain about a little snow.
Photos courtesy of Kathy Cox.