I've lived in Southwest Missouri since 1980. Joplin, MO, is only 60 miles away. I can't count how many times I've heard the tornado sirens sound, heard the Emergency Broadcast System sound on my television, or seen the little "tornado warning" icon on the lower left corner of my television screen. In all those times, I've never seen or been in a tornado. Just a thousand false alarms. I'm not alone either. You can ask almost every local here, and they will tell you the same thing.
Southwest Missouri is known as "tornado alley." People move here from all over the country and one of the first things they ask about are the tornadoes. I've sold so many basement homes to families whose main concern is the threat of tornadoes. Until Sunday, I never took those concerns very seriously. I even wrote a blog about a client's concerns regarding tornadoes and how we, as locals, actually joke that the tornado sirens mean it's time to run out on your front porch and watch. It's a spectator sport around here.
But on Sunday, when I read the first Facebook post about a tornado that touched down in Joplin, we immediately turned the channel to our local TV station. When we saw the first images of the destruction, and the weatherman described the path the tornado was taking, we realized it was headed right for us. We watched for the next 30 minutes mesmerized by the radar, and for the first time in my life, I began to take the threat of a tornado seriously. As the tornado siren went off in my neighborhood, my husband (geez....feels really funny to say that...we were just married on Saturday) and I started discussing where the safest place in the house would be.
As we continued watching, I turned to him and said, "We should gather a few of our valuables and put them in there with us, just in case." He agreed. We got up, went in different directions, and met back at the door under the stairs. I had my wedding dress, and he had his autographed Michael Jordan jersey. That was it.
We stood there for a moment, and at the same time, we both said, "That's all?" Tim said, "What about pictures?" I said, "They're all online." Feeling really goofy, we placed our two items under the stairs. Finally, I said, "This is really sad. We work ourselves to death for all this stuff, and we don't even care if it blows away."
Talk about a sobering moment!
Southwest Missouri may span several miles, but it's really one big close community. Everyone we know has been touched in one way or another by the devastation in Joplin. We all know someone who has lost a loved one, a home, or who still has loved ones missing. For me, it has finally hit a little too close to home.
In all the media coverage, and the terrible pictures, nothing has driven home the sheer force of a tornado as much as the video below has. You may not be able to see anything or anybody, but the audio alone is enough to bring you to tears. Nothing has ever brought the power of a tornado to life for me more than this video.
We are under a tornado warning again tonight, and will be until 3:00 a.m. A few minutes ago, I removed the wedding dress and signed Michael Jordan jersey from under the stairs. Honestly, if we survive anything like Joplin experienced....how much do those two things mean anyway? As long as I have my husband (still feels weird to say that), and my son....I don't need anything else.
The Missouri Association of REALTORS® has set up a relief fund for the REALTORS® whose lives, homes and businesses were ruined in Joplin. As of this moment, 7 agents have not been found, 20 agents have lost their homes, and 2 offices have been totally destroyed.
Please keep the Joplin community in your prayers.
About the author: I am full-time REALTOR® with RE/MAX Solutions in Springfield, MO, and a member of the Greater Springfield Board of REALTORS®. I have helped hundreds of families in the Springfield, Nixa, Republic and Ozark real estate markets, whether buying a home, or selling a home. Visit my website to search for All Springfield MO Area MLS listings. Want to know what our market is like? My website is also an excellent resource for current Springfield MO Area Real Estate Market Reports, as well as current market reports for Ozark, Nixa, Republic, and Rogersville.