The Joplin tornado: An eyewitness account; plus: how you can help

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Sunday night a tornado ripped through Joplin, MO, killing at least 89 people. Petfinder Happy Tails editor Joan Banks, who lives just outside Joplin, gives a firsthand account below. Find out how you can help affected animal shelters after the jump.


Joplin’s Animal Adoption & Resource Center needs supplies.

If you are with a shelter or rescue group in the area and need help, contact the Petfinder outreach team for assistance.

The power is off at my home in Joplin, and rain is once again pouring down, but we are safe. My family and I were celebrating our granddaughter’s graduation at the Olive Garden in Joplin yesterday when the tornado struck.

Unbelievably, we didn’t hear any sirens. We did see the ominous dark clouds just north of the restaurant. Wind began whipping trees and the rain came down in torrents. We stayed at the restaurant for five
or 10 minutes, then ducked through the rain
to our cars and headed toward home. I was worried about our dog, Tucker.

Huge hailstones pelted the car and we could barely see through the windshield, though the wipers were on full speed. Debris was strewn across the highway, and we passed a large truck stop with its signs blown down, semis turned over. Two empty cars stood in the road with all their windows blown-in. We got to the road to our house, but power lines and cables blocked the way — and the alternate route we tried. We retreated to the truck stop and darted inside.

Dozens of people were milling in the restaurant area. Ceiling tiles were dropping because the roof had been damaged and rain was putting pressure on the ceiling, and glass peppered the floor from blow-in windows.

Several people had their dogs with them. One lady’s dog, who had no collar, got away from her and ran outside. Someone retrieved him and returned him to her. My husband dashed to our car and gave her a leash for him.

When the rain stopped, we tried still another way home. The debris field disappeared about half a mile south of the truck stop; our home, still another two miles south, was completely untouched, and Tucker was fine. We are so lucky.

Joplin has suffered a devastating blow. My daughter Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of Petfinder, is from Joplin, and the elementary and high schools she went to are destroyed.

A swath through the middle of town is simply gone, hundreds of homes are gone, and scores of lives have been lost. We haven’t heard from many of our friends. The Animal Adoption & Resource Center in Joplin is asking for crates and other supplies to help with the rescued pets they will be taking in.

The weather has turned threatening again; rain is pouring down, so I will close my laptop before I lose my battery.

How you can help:
Reach out to shelters and rescue groups in affected areas to see what they need.

Donate to the Foundation to help treat sick and injured animals, care for newly homeless pets and rebuild storm-damaged property.

Text 4PETS and your e-mail address to 20222 to donate $10.00 to the Foundation.

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More about the Missouri storms: Missouri City Is Left in Ruins; Hospital Is Abandoned Photo slide show of the Missouri recovery efforts

Huffington Post: Tornadoes Hit Midwest: Missouri Tornado Kills At Least 89 Photo slide show of Joplin, MO, May 23, 2011

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