Monday, May 23, 2011

The Great Joplin tornado of 2011

(It's somewhat ironic that my last Note was "This Day.")

I haven't seen any of the damage first hand. But from what I'm piecing together... imagine (for my Santa Clarita friends) a force of nature starting at Newhall Ave on Lyons and and demolishing everything from there to I-5. I'm told this may have been a mile wide. From pictures, it leveled everything, cutting a path at least six blocks wide. Does "everything" include sturdy brick buildings? Yes it does. The path the tornado took in Joplin was about 70-80% residential.

I always thought it was a supremely bad idea that both hospitals were tucked in the same corner of town, about half a mile apart. One of those hospitals, St. John's, was hit. I'm told it was "destroyed." From pictures it *looks* like the structure is intact but everything else will need extensive repairs or replacement. A casino/hotel about 5-7 miles away is being used as a hospital.

caption: Water gushes from a broken pipe in a building along Rangeline Road.
credit: Globe/Roger Nomer|mostpopphotos

I took a circuitous route home, around the north side of town, to avoid the problem areas. My folks were without power the last time I had spoken to them. They report they lost some siding off the house. Mom described the storm to me as being on the other side of the railroad tracks. The tracks are about 100-150 yards from their house. There's a ridge about 300 yards beyond the tracks so "the other side of the tracks" is less than 400 yards away. Mara, Rose and Wolfgang were with them when all this happened, hunkered down in the laundry room. That is some scary shit. I had just dropped them off not an hour earlier. I had remarked to the kids during the drive that the clouds looked angry. I had no idea.

At work I was so busy with IT outages that I was mostly shielded from the news, certainly from details. Phone and cell service was spotty over the area. And everybody that had a phone was trying to use it. Luckily I was able to verify and occasionally re-verify that everyone was OK. But it was fairly frantic trying to juggle responsibilities and confirm that my nearest and dearest were out of danger and not taken from me.

As I neared home the clouds to the south were ablaze with lightning. There was barely time for them to grow dark between arcs. Power was out in patches. The light pollution from the city was noticeably dimmer. Traffic lights were out. The path of destruction ended a between one and three miles from our house. The direct suffering this tornado has brought me amounts to inconvenience. We're almost out of laundry detergent. I would go to the nearest Wal-mart super center but there is probably still debris in the road and, oh yeah... that Wal-mart won't be open for a long time. We suffered some anxiety and fear. Sharin had to navigate an obstacle course to pick the kids up and get them home, suffering a flat along the way. Road debris? Can we count that as tornado related property damage? By the time this is over the death toll will probably be in the hundreds. 1000 plus would not surprise me. But me and mine have escaped unscathed.

I am thankful. I got lucky. We (my family) got lucky. But if anyone wants to give the credit for that luck to anything or anyone STOP. Tell it to the people who lost their place of employment. Tell it to the hundreds of people who lost their homes. Tell it to the people who were injured. Tell it to the people who did lose loved ones. Tell it to the dead. Tell them why my family was lucky but they were not. Only tell me if you want me to jump down your throat. I know my family was lucky. I actually wish I had someone or something to thank. I'm not ungrateful. But if there were a something or a someone to thank then I would surely also have to damn them/it for the horrifying devastation visited upon the people of my city.

Which reminds me: Mara won't be going to pre-school in the morning because the church facility where she attends was at least partially damaged. A lot of nice people with good hearts work and attend there. I kind of like the place except for all the displays of archaic torture/murder devices. I don't know how bad the damage was to the buildings. Hopefully not too bad. But it's only about half a mile from St. John's hospital and directly between my folks house and St. John's. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Human interest story: At a fast food restaurant, Wendy's I think, people took cover in a bathroom as the tornado hit. The building was leveled. The survivors had dig themselves out of the ruble. The good new: they all survived. I'm hoping that story is true and stays true. Damn, now I'm hungry.

So far this whole thing hasn't really sunk in emotionally for me. I keep catching myself on the verge of make glib comments, gallows humor. If this had happened the first year I moved out here I'd be on the road back to earthquake/brush-fire/mudslide country. But I've been here so long, it feels like tornadoes aren't real or they only happen to other people. I am completely serious (and completely selfish) when I say I hope it stays that way.


  1. I'm glad you're okay and I agree completely about luck. I think it's the worst kind of confirmation bias that only the survivors get to assign responsibility for what happens to them. Chances are that 90% of the people who died believed in God, and most of them were probably awake and most of them were praying.

    Feel free to hop on over to my blog with your gallows humor if you don't want to share it here. I've already been accused of being callous after the Alabama tornadoes.

    I'd offer to help out with the laundry, too, but I'm about 800 miles away.

  2. Atheists always use disaster as a excuse to attack believers.

    Who the Hell are you to take away whatever those people have?

    Reminds me of that miserable piece of garbage John Loftus who did not express an ounce of sympathy for the vicitms...which at least you did..but just used this for his blogging purposes.

    No wonder people think atheists are scum.

    Jimmy in KC

  3. Lady ain't no lady.

    You weren't just callous.

    You were a heartless bitch. KMA

  4. p.s. I do not believe in magic. It doesn't affect people I don't know and won't encounter if I say to other people that I think they're insensitive for claiming God loves them but hates the little child next door who got killed.

    I do wish Allusive Atheist well, but only in the sense that expressing personal interest in someone's well-being can sometimes give them a teensy boost. I would wish the other people well but not having the magical power to ensure they'll hear/read me saying that, I won't bother. I'd rather address the people who hate it when theists give God the credit for what was pure luck.

  5. Not only that, but your lie about the affect what you say to other people has on those people...and you are belching a Straw Man anyway.

    No wonder the atheists are the most despised people in America.

    Lady Atheist and John Loftus are TWO excellent reasons to NOT be an atheist.

  6. Actually, zealots of any and all religions are the most despised people in the world. Because they are blind, stupid, dangerous and down right mean. LadyAtheist didn't post anything rude, and yet she received several nasty comments from "good Christians." (What an oxymoron that is.)

    M from Mich

  7. If I have prayed to god to save me and then I died, I wouldn't be reading this blog.

    If I were a believer in magical thinking and someone I loved had died, I wouldn't be reading this blog.

    If I were a believer in a magic sky daddy and I felt that he had saved me for some special purpose in life, I would not be reading this blog.

    If you think that saying pleasantries about pepole really makes a difference in how they feel even if they don't know you've said them, then knock yourself out.

  8. You pompoua fools have expressed no concern for the victims, but just used this to take swipes at believers.

    You are as fucked up as any fundies.

    And I am a Jew, so that should really piss you off, goys.

    Sick of Goys

  9. Anonymous
    You really are a serial pest, aren't you?

  10. I made a point to avoid the argument from evil or otherwise subvert this disaster for my "atheist agenda."

    **Anonymous said...

    Atheists always use disaster as a excuse to attack believers.**

    I would personally apologize to anyone I attacked in this blurb, if there were anyone. If all someone has is an inadequate supernatural blame/credit system I would encourage them to look elsewhere.

    I don't really know John Loftus but you should ask yourself: Does calling him a miserable piece of garbage tell us more about him or you? Before you fly off the handle, I'm not calling you anything of the sort. But when someone casts vague dispersions it portrays the character of the caster without revealing anything about the maligned. He is not accountable to me for public expressions of sympathy. I guess it was a bad PR move. But I don't look to Loftus for sympathy. I look to him for sincerity and information.

    I'm not sure who you meant used "this" for whose blogging. You wouldn't have to read far to discover this piece is uncharacteristic of my typical essays, stylistically nor by content. I wrote this to share with my friends and family via facebook. I am adding this personal tale to my non-private forum because most people like to glimpse a human side of remote news. Please, forgive my unscrupulous marketing ploy and scummy veneer.


    Lady, it's pretty easy to see that you were being satirical. That's hard to do with a without staying in character. But for someone who is unable or unwilling to examine their own ideologically canned answers it could only be offensive. We all recognize self-righteous, self-important people who walk around with a chip on their shoulder... unless we ARE that person.

    Should such people be ridiculed? I'm of the opinion they should, if for no other reason than they are even more oblivious to tacit protest or appeals to reason (generally speaking). You are not going to reach them directly. But observers may learn from the exchange. Fence sitters may come down. And the pompous are somewhat more likely to be self-critical if they realize everyone thinks they are ridiculous.

  12. I am reluctant to even use the word "luck." For too many it is inseparable from the superstitious notion that luck is an unseen force which manifests as favorable results. I don't know if it's a flaw of language or a cerebral flaw but it is clumsy and/or difficult to refer to favorable (or unfavorable) results without reference luck, providence, fortune or some equivocal reference to unseen forces. It's easy to identify some deterministic natural forces. Unfortunately many people find just as easy to imagine deterministic supernatural forces. "Luck of the gaps," if you will.

  13. "Anonymous said...

    Not only that, but your lie about the affect..."

    I don't want to dismiss this without due consideration. But what you've written is not clear enough to consider without speculation on my part.

    There are far more plausible reasons why atheists are despised.

    If Lady Atheist and John Loftus were hypocrits I would agree with you. But your claim that they ARE reasons does not explain why they are reasons. I think it's great that you have an opinion and want to share, but if you can't support your opinion you are not likely to convince anyone. Based on what I've read from them I have reasons to believe you are wrong on this matter and you've given me no reason to believe you are right. You could try again but it's sort of off topic anyway.

  14. Fair point, M from Mich. Perhaps we should ask ourselves what rudeness, cruelty, violence or hypocrisies are condoned by religious ideologies? Or is it better just to pretend they don't happen?

  15. Sick of Goys

    I don't think I was being pompous. I'll mull that one over but if you can explain how I was being pompous that would be helpful. I was trying to express the gravity of the situation and my relative good fortune in the midst of overwhelming devastation. I won't apologize for having kept my post slightly detached. It was not my intent to use this forum to express my grief, sympathies or survivor's remorse. I would hope that no read this and assumed I was unsympathetic to anyone who suffered from this event. If so I must bare some of the blame for being allusive rather than blatant. But knowing that sympathetic expressions were not part of my goal, and also knowing that readers will bring their own perception, I am not going to beat myself up. Thanks for reading.

  16. Note, I started my post with "I'm glad you're okay"

    Note also that Jimmy, KMA and Sick of Goys didn't express an iota of sympathy for the victims of the tornado or for the author of this blog post, who have all been traumatized to one degree or another.

    Just sayin'...

  17. Thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Atheists for all the help they have, and are, giving.

    And John Loftus is starting a donation post on his blog.

    So all you anti atheists can suck on that!

    A Theist