Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day Three: More Twisters,More Heartbreak

I am virtually speechless at the continual mayhem that has risen up to destroy so many communities. 69 tornadoes in a 24 hour period. From Texas and Oklahoma, to Kansas, Arkansas to Missouri and Ohio.. and the same weather pattern is moving out of the mid-west to threaten the east coast states of Kentucky and surrounding areas. And it is gaining in strength and potential for damage if that can be believed.

Over 40 MILLION people are in jeopardy of being hit by a tornado tonight, the figures are so overwhelming you can't even comprehend it. The stories of death and destruction more than pull your heart out of your chest. The heartbreak so engulfing you can't imagine how anyone can survive through this level of tragedy. A mother of 3 very children is in critical condition in the hospital, she is pregnant with her fourth child. One of her children died today, the 15 month old cannot be found - anywhere.
I listened and wondered, how can a mothers heart cope with such losses. How can you deal with not knowing where your 15 month old is? How can you lose 2 children? How can you come out of this and remain sane?

First they found his dark blue teddy bear. Then frantic relatives searching for toddler Skyular Logsdon spotted his red T-shirt and pants, torn, rain-soaked and wrapped around a telephone pole.

The little boy hasn't been seen since Sunday night when a massive tornado ripped through the centre of Joplin, Mo., killing at least 123 people and leaving many more missing.

As search teams took advantage of a break in the bad weather on Tuesday to look for survivors under mountains of wreckage, Skyular's relatives carefully lifted up the wooden beams and twisted metal of what was once his home.

They prayed for signs of life from the boy, who was about 15 months old. His injured parents are in hospital.

"We have searched every morgue, every hospital, every place we can think of," said Rusty Burton, a stepgrandfather to Skyular. "I looked at every piece of this house I could."

The discovery of the young boy's clothes on the telephone pole nearly 180 metres away was gut-wrenching.

"It's all torn up. I don't want him to have been wearing this," said relative Pamela Tate, sobbing as she gripped the wet, tiny clothes. "All I want is for him to be alive. That is all I want."

The search for Skyular is but one of the many sorrow-filled hunts for loved ones in this southwestern Missouri city of 50,000, where about 1,500 people remain missing. Authorities said the missing could include many who simply have not yet been able to let relatives know where they are.

Authorities in Joplin said they were racing against forecasts for more bad weather as well as grim survival odds for anyone still trapped.

"We're hopeful that we'll still be finding people," said Joplin fire Chief Mitch Randles, who said there were several reports of cries coming from beneath collapsed buildings. "We want to make every opportunity we can to find everybody that is still in the rubble and has survived to this point." For Kenny McKeel, the search for his lost family is over. Only hours after the tornado hit, McKeel found his father's body and that of his stepmother laid out on the lawn, their home collapsed around them. The neighbours -a couple and three children -also died, he said. On Tuesday he pulled his father's cane from the debris and tried to hold back tears.

"I see this stuff. It means a lot to me," said McKeel. "And it kills me."

The tornado that raked Joplin was the deadliest single twister in the United States since 1947, when a tornado in Woodland, Okla., killed 181 people.

When it struck around dinner time Sunday night, the funnel cloud cut a path nearly 9.5 kilometres long and up to one kilometre wide. Some 2,000 houses and many other businesses, schools and other buildings were destroyed.

"Pretty much everybody in town knows somebody they've lost," Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday.

It was the latest in a string of powerful storms this spring that have killed more than 300 people and caused more than $2 billion in property damage across the United States.

Joplin's tornado likely caused insured losses between $1 billion and $3 billion, according to catastrophe risk modelling firm EQECAT.

Search efforts have been complicated by bad weather and two law enforcement officials were struck by lightning on Monday. One remained in critical condition.

More storms were headed toward the region. Meteorologists forecast a significant tornado outbreak Tuesday night that could spawn 50 or more tornado reports from Oklahoma City to Kansas and possibly Joplin.

Yet the stories continue. A young husband who lost his life trying to protect his high school sweetheart wife. Half of their home was destroyed, the other half remained so intact their wedding photo's sat unharmed. A woman who died after being told that her father had been killed. Parents, husbands, father, brothers, sisters ~ hardly anyone spared from their lives being touched. Grown men crying, not because they are weak, but because they look upon the heartache etched on faces. Lives shattered. Communities destroyed.

I miss my mum. I miss my home. I have not pretended otherwise. But as I look around at the absolute unthinkable, my mind wonders back to Louisiana and the people whose homes are being flooded out. To Texas where wildfires are destroying homes. Wyoming under water from flooding and I look upon the multiple disasters all coming in unison and I wonder what is happening.

If there is an answer, I don't have it.

Everything in nature contains all the power of nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson