Posts tagged Joplin
Posts tagged Joplin
Miles Traveled: 205
States: 1 (Missouri)
Drove down to Joplin early in the morning. On the way, I contacted AmeriCorps and let them know I’d be coming. Once I arrived, they set me up with Catholic Charities at a distribution center.
At the center we passed out donated items to residents who had applied for aid and been approved for specific items, such as kitchen goods, food, clothing, toys, and hygiene products. I spent half a day at the center, passing out items and getting to know the staff. I worked that first day with Nick and Tony. Both of them were from Pennsylvania and had served in the armed forces - Nick in the Army and Tony in the Air Force. They were a lot of fun to work with and it was very entertaining to hear them bicker back and forth about their respective branches of service.
After my day was done at the center, I had a talk with my dad in which I recall saying while I was happy to be doing what I was doing, for some reason I had let myself run with the assumption that I’d be doing something like clearing debris and building houses. I didn’t feel like I was doing the “big stuff.” My dad, as he tends to do, put it in perspective for me by reminding me that for people whose homes were destroyed and who had nothing left, receiving a set of dishes, bedding, food, and toys for their children was the big stuff. Many of the people we helped had just finally gotten their FEMA trailers. They were finally getting to feel a sense of “home.”
I had dinner at the Red Onion Cafe in town. My server was great, and talked with me a bit about the city, the disaster, and the recovery process. The food was delicious and I didn’t have to wait long at all.
On my second day, I arrived at the distribution center in the morning, only to find out they needed help at a construction site where they were building a house. After spending an hour or so at the center, they sent me over to the job site where I spent the rest of my day. The crew building the house was from Wesbecher Construction, from Marble Hill, Missouri. They were donating their time to come out and work on the house. They were a really great crew and made me feel like I was welcome. I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about building a house, so for the most part my job was just to be a go-fer, but that was fine with me. We also got to meet the home owner whose house we were rebuilding. That was a very moving and humbling experience.
The experience did drive home some of what Mike Rowe was talking about in his testimony before congress, which is linked on the My Inspirations page. My dad built houses, and yet, I know almost nothing about it. I don’t think I know more than a handful of people who do. That bothers me. I think I’d like to learn.
I met up with the crew for dinner at Pitchers, the restaurant attached to my hotel. The food was quite good, though the service was lacking. It was nice to get to know some of the crew a bit more, too.
The next day I woke up to a call asking me if I could head over to the build site as soon as possible because they were preparing to raise the trusses for the roof. I rushed over and we set to work. Four of the volunteers worked out a system for carrying and raising the trusses, and the crew set them as fast as we could carry them. We finished them very quickly and then began adding the decking to the roof. We managed to get the roof almost entirely decked.
Over the span of the two days I was on the build site, the house went from not even having all of the walls up, to having almost the entire roof done. It was such an awesome experience.
The last night in Joplin, the local Methodist church provided a big dinner for all of the volunteers. There was so much food and everyone was so nice. I also learned about a clean water non-profit called Poured Out, which provides purification systems and clean water facilities to communities in need around the world.
All in all, it was an incredible experience. I was honored to be able to help out this community still so much in need, and to work with such wonderful, caring people. I learned a lot about myself and about the needs of a community still reeling from disaster.
I highly encourage anyone interested to contact AmeriCorps and see what help is still needed. The volunteer intake hotline number is (417) 625-3543. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Miles traveled: 356
States: 3 (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma City)
What a day. I don’t really know how I’m going to be able to sum it all up, but I’ll try. I started the day well rested in Springfield. After a big breakfast, I left town with the intention of making it to Oklahoma City by nightfall. However, with Joplin in between, I knew there was a strong possibility I wouldn’t make it so quickly.
The first stop was at Gary’s Gay Parita gas station re-creation, located in Ash Grove, MO (about 25 miles west of Springfield). I actually drove right past it at first, but decided to turn around and check it out. Great decision. I walked toward the porch, and before I could say anything, I was greeted with a hearty hello and asked how I was and where I was from. The man who greeted me was Gary Turner, the owner of the station. He told me to take a look around and take some pictures, and that he would then tell me some places to check out where I would “burn up my camera” before the day was over.
The station was fantastic. Everything looked pristine. I took some photos and returned to talk to Gary. As we talked, another visitor from Tunisia walked up. His name was Abdelhak. He came all the way here just to drive Route 66. Pretty amazing. Also at the station at that time were a couple from Switzerland.
Gary explained the history of the station, told us what was ahead on the Route, had us sign his guestbook, took a few photos with us, and gave us hand-drawn maps to the must-see stops nearby. He also promised that if we sent him a letter once we returned home, he’d send us a Christmas card. Gary and the Gay Parita re-creation are everything Route 66 should be. Interesting, entertaining, friendly, and deeply committed to preserving and restoring the glory of The Mother Road.
After I left, I went to check out the next stop Gary recommended – Spencer Garage, a former garage and gas station in Spencer, MO which is in the process of being restored. The was closed up but it was a fun place to look at. As I walked around, I discovered people had spelled out the names of their home states or countries with stones along the wall of the station. I saw Italy and New Zealand written out. From what I’m told, there are plenty of people who make the trip over to the US from outside the country just to drive the Route.
A few photos later, I was off to Red Oak, 30 miles west of Spencer, near Carthage, MO. Red Oak is a kooky little town north of the Route where you can find colorful houses, restored general stores, tractors, classic cars, and a number of interesting, whimsical sculptures. I wasn’t able to speak with anyone there, but I walked around for almost an hour and took plenty of pictures.
Back on 66 I ran across Abdelhak again at a gas station and talked to him for a bit. We exchanged contact information and I told him if he ever comes back to drive Route 66 again to give me a call when he’s in Chicago. I’m finally starting to open up and feel comfortable talking to the people I meet along the way. This has made a huge difference.
Leaving Red Oak, I knew I would never make it to Oklahoma City by nightfall, but I decided I was going to make my best effort to get there quickly. Still, Joplin was ahead. However, even before I got there, the Route had different ideas.
As I was nearing Joplin, I drove past a sign that read “Superman Museum and Ice Cream Parlor.” Intrigued, I decided to check it out. The shop, SuperTam, turned out to be great. I had a great conversation with the owner, Larry Tamminen, about the history of the shop and that area of Route 66. He also told me a bit about Joplin and where to go to see what things are like these days. If you’re on Route 66 through Carterville, definitely stop by SuperTam.
Just over a mile out of Carterville, a classic car exhibition had Route 66 closed for a few blocks. So, naturally, I stopped to check it out and take some pictures.
After Webb City, I finally reached Joplin. Driving into town on Route 66, it didn’t look like there was any damage at all. I remembered that Larry had said to drive up 20th Street, so I made my way to that end of town. As I neared the street, I noticed that the treeline was broken. Then I noticed there were no houses on the street. I had to stop for a moment to collect myself. Anything that hadn’t been swept away by the storm had been deconstructed to make way for the recovery. It was a truly shocking sight.
I stopped on a side street to take a few photos, and when I stepped out of my car, I stepped onto an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) package. They were still strewn about in places, either from the immediate aftermath of the disaster or from the recovery effort.
I asked around to see what organizations were handling the recovery efforts, took a few more photos, stopped at McDonalds to process all of the shots I took, and then headed out for OKC.
Because it was after dark when I finally left Joplin, I drove by most of the attractions after that without being able to really check them out. During that span of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, I saw the 4 Women on the Route station in Galena, KS, the abandoned Avon Motel in Afton, OK, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, OK, and the Round Barn and Pop’s Soda Shop in Arcadia, OK. I even got to see a shooting star just east of Depew, OK.
I arrived in Oklahoma City around 5 AM and tried to catch some sleep in my car in a Walmart parking lot. No luck. I decided to just say forget it and head on to Austin.
I’m at the McDonalds in Joplin, MO. I had planned to be in Oklahoma City by now. Once I stopped in Joplin, I knew that wasn’t happening. I’ll still be driving on to OKC tonight, but I had to stop and get these photos transferred and edited.
I can hardly put into words what this place looks like right now. Apparently they’ve recovered a bit, but some of the areas look like they haven’t been touched since the tornado.
I’ll have some photos up shortly.
Absolutely stunned this morning by the images out of Joplin, MO. The devastation from the tornado is awful. Of course, it has some significance to this blog because it is one of the cities along Route 66 and a city where I plan to stop.
If you’ve been following the news and are looking for information, resources, or a way to help, this post by inthefade is a good place to start. I’m afraid I don’t have much more to say than that.
This disaster brings up all sorts of thoughts for me, but the only ones that matter right now are for the safety and recovery of the people of Joplin, MO.