Posts Tagged ‘The New Normal’

The Emptied Killing Zone: Joplin, Missouri, September 2011

The six mile by one-half mile of devastation left by the Joplin tornado has been cleared, a 24/7 effort fueled by a timeline. By mid-August the removal would need to be complete if the city were to realize the full federal disaster support (90% of all expense). That happened, amazingly, and what was a land covered with debris became an empty land, a ghost town within a city.

Outside of that zone, beyond national media coverage, on the other side of what volunteers have and do offer, are the actual residents of Joplin, making their way toward what my brother calls the “new normal.” It’s a long, slow trek characterized by accumulating weariness. But full of hope and inspiration, too.

My brother opened his new office during the past couple of weeks. Patterns of normalcy have returned, albeit in a new form. And the vacancy left behind has provided room for something new. What will that be? We can only imagine. But something will grow up in its place. It always does.

A baby was born in Joplin today, crying and gasping for new air. She came into this world after the tornado, the cleanup, and all the starting over. Years from now people will tell her, “You were born in the year of the great tornado.” And she will ask, “What was it like?” And her grandmother will say, “It was a stormy and windy night …”