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May 26, 2011

Inspiration Amid Devastation

by Hannah Kiddoo
Memphis native Deidre Blaine only had 15 minutes to secure herself before the disastrous tornado hit Joplin Sunday evening. She says the process of redeveloping the town will be challenging, but possible because of the kindness of others.

Blaine, a junior Elementary Education major at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, was visiting a friend when the tornado came through town. "I was [] on the Northeast side of town, on the top floor of a four-story building. We looked outside and tried to open the balcony door and we could barely close it back, so we knew it was very dangerous outside."

Blaine and her friend raced to the bottom floor, where a neighbor allowed them to take cover in his apartment. "The guy had just opened the patio door, and we saw one of the smaller vortexes right above us. Luckily it wasn't touching down, and it basically skipped over the building and touched down on the other side."

While Blaine escaped damage, many others were not as fortunate. When Blaine went out to survey the town following the storm, the toll it had taken on the community was overwhelming. "As far as we could see it was flat," she explained. "The tornado brought utter devastation to Joplin."

Although she knows it will take time for the community to return to normal, she noted, "it has been amazing to see the outpouring of love that has happened. It has brought the community together. I know several families that have five or six people, if not more, living with them currently."

While she has been volunteering at Forest Park Baptist Church, she explained that there are many ways to help out. "The best way for people to help out currently is to donate food, water, diapers, etc. Right now clothing isn't a huge need because victims aren't going to come get a whole load of clothing; they have nowhere to store it. Also, blood donations to the Red Cross are encouraged and of course monetary donations."

Although the campus that hosts her summer classes is currently being used as a shelter for storm victims, Blaine plans on staying in Joplin to finish her degree. "I love this community, my friends, and the church I attend. Please continue to keep the city of Joplin in your thoughts and prayers."

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