I attended a progressive political meeting at home, and after discussing election strategies with our candidate, we viewed the FEMA setup in our county seat’s library; I viewed some local tornado damage from the tornadoes that struck the Grove, Oklahoma area. Yesterday, I drove up to nearby Joplin, MO to view the carnage of the monster tornado that struck. John featured this tornado in his post, “The scariest tornado video you’ll never see.” Since I grew up in the nearby relatively small town of Grove, Oklahoma, I spent a lot of time in Joplin going to movies and their mall when I was attending Grove High School in the 1980′s.
Situated in the far southwestern corner of Missouri, Joplin has a lot of ties to Oklahoma and it is evident by visiting the web site for the Joplin Pride Center where you can follow their links in order to give via Oklahoma Equality to help the local LGBT community recover from the tornado. Please give.
The following are two videos I shot to try to convey the massive amount of destruction. Nothing compares to actually being there on the ground and surveying it with one’s own eyes.
The first video is filmed across from the Home Depot where many people lost their lives, and towards the end of the video you will notice the temporary tent that has been erected for the reopened business.
This second video is about a mile southwest of the first one and off in the distance you can see the shattered St. John’s hospital.
Some of the best coverage I’ve read regarding this particular tornado has come from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
I interviewed Rusty Hooper, “Mama Violet,” who performs at the Pla Mor Lounge which was not destroyed. She said that as far as she knew that no one in the gay community lost their lives which is a miracle, but she does know fifteen to twenty LGBT persons or families that lost their homes. The MCC church was one of the thousands of buildings destroyed. When asked the best way the gay community can help, “Mama Violet” has temporarily converted her living room into a “disaster relief hub,” but asked for others to please give via the link because the monies are effectively being disbursed between the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) and the Joplin Pride Center.
“Mama Violet” said she is the oldest performing drag queen in Joplin. She spoke with absolute conviction when she said there are a lot of LGBT members of faith in the community and that, although “Some of us lost our homes, we are so thankful no one had lost their lives.” She recounted that Saint Mary’s Catholic Church had been totally destroyed in the tornado, and the only thing left standing was the cross. Her voice broke when she said that, “No matter what anyone says about our LGBT community, that cross serves as a beacon to so many of us.” She also recounted how Joplin High School was being renamed “HOPE High School.” The sign had been demolished except for the letters “OP” and someone has since rebuilt the sign to read “HOPE” and the name is going to stick.