A Terrible Twister

After a devastating tornado, the people of Joplin, Missouri, pick up the pieces

May 25, 2011

On Sunday evening, a powerful tornado tore through the town of Joplin, Missouri, creating a devastating path of destruction. Twenty minutes before the tornado touched down, warning sirens sounded, and residents scrambled to find cover or leave town. But for many, 20 minutes was not enough time.

The tornado touched down at around 6:00 p.m. It destroyed thousands of homes and business, injured 750 people and killed at least 122 people. Three days later, as residents start to pick up the pieces, the search for missing victims continues. "We are still in search-and-rescue mode," said Mark Rohr, Joplin's city manager.

A Mighty Tornado

Sunday's tornado was the country's eighth deadliest since record-keeping began in 1840. The National Weather Service said the twister was an EF5, the highest rating possible on a scale of tornado power and intensity.

Bill Davis, the lead forecaster on a National Weather Service team, said that only an unusually powerful tornado could destroy so many sturdy buildings, including a hospital, a bank and a Pepsi bottling plant. "Numerous well-built residential homes were basically leveled," he said.

The Road to Recovery

With four school buildings destroyed, class has been cancelled for all Joplin students for the rest of the school year. But officials have vowed to be ready for the new school year to begin on August 17, as scheduled.

The district is working to determine which buildings can be used. Some Joplin students may be sent to attend school in other districts. "We definitely have a deadline, and we're looking to make that happen," Superintendent C.J. Huff told The Joplin Globe.

As Joplin residents turned their attention to recovery efforts, violent weather struck the Midwest again on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tornados tore through parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas, killing at least 14 people.

With so many communities devastated by the recent twisters, many wonder how they can lend a hand. The American Red Cross has set up a donation page that allows you to give directly to tornado relief. For more information, visit


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