It’s been two weeks since an F5 Tornado decimated a large portion of Joplin, MO – killing at least 142 people and causing widespread devastation. Much of the city still lies in ruin, but an army of volunteers is working side-by-side with area firefighters and police to help locate missing people and to begin the clean up and recovery efforts.

Out of this disaster stems a number of stories – some of which are inspiring, and some are heart wrenching.

Riverside Police Department

First – Riverside, MO Police Officer Jeff Taylor was quick to volunteer his assistance in the city – a 3 hour drive from his home. While helping, lightning struck the ground near him on May 23rd. Officials in Riverside announced today that he died from the injuries sustained in the lightning strike – making the ultimate sacrifice while helping others. Jeff was 31 years old.(read more)

Next – Dr. Kevin Kitka, an ER doctor at St. John’s Regional provided a dramatic and poignant account of that day – as his hospital was ripped apart by the twister and they struggled to care for patients and a large number of new critically injured patients. It’s a harrowing tale, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety, to try to paraphrase it here doesn’t do it justice. (read it here)

The crushed SUV

Lastly – one of the many heartwarming stories of everyday people doing what they can to help out. A personal friend of mine, Marty Fahncke took it upon himself to assist in the cleanup effort. The hero in his story though, is his 6-year old son – who happened to be in the right place at the right time to help retrieve an elderly woman’s medication from a crushed SUV. When they pried open the door, he was the only person who could fit – and he braved broken glass and sharp metal to help a woman he had just met. Read the entire story here.

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