Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joplin Tornado 2011

     Last week I spent two days (Tuesday and Friday) in Joplin, Missouri, photographing the destruction that was caused by an EF-5 tornado on Sunday, May 22. As I write this, 134 lives have been confirmed as deceased from the tornado. This tornado is the deadliest in the U.S. in more than 60 years. When people ask me what it was like to witness the aftermath, I typically shake my head and remain speechless. For me, it resembles, what I imagine, a violent war zone would look like.
     I was surprised to find how many of the survivors were willing to speak to me and other press about their experience. For me, as I am sure it is for the majority of journalist, the goal is to never exploit the people that have been put in these situations, but to tell and show the honest story and emotion that exist.
     In 2007, I traveled to Greensburg, KS to photograph the devastation of a tornado that destroyed that town. I have since been back to Greensburg to see the rebuilding process, and how the community is proving that life can continue after such a disastrous event.
     I hope that everyone in Joplin, Tuscaloosa, AL, and every other place that has been affected throughout this horrible tornado season will prevail as Greensburg has.

Joplin citizens and volunteers begin to sort through the rubble.
Danny Gideon sits on his porch with his dogs two days after an EF-5 tornado ravaged the city of Joplin, MO. Gideon rushed to find his 77-year-old mother 45 minutes after the tornado hit. After finding his mother in the rumble of the retirement home she was living in, she passed away eight hours later in triage. During all of the chaos, Gideon said, "She wasn't scared." 
Rebuilding is well underway only a few days after the tornado.
St. John's medical center.

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Wichita, KS, United States
The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials