Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed when a devastating tornado hit the town of Joplin, Missouri. Now the search is on to find missing people or bring supplies to those who have lost their homes. The clean-up and rescue operation is happening while the tornado warning system is being tested, with residents expecting another storm.
Dakota Kildoo lives in Phoenix, Arizona, but was visiting Joplin to witness the graduation of his friends over the weekend. He has also written about his experience on his blog.
I was staying in Joplin, about a quarter of a mile away from where the storm hit. I went into the main hit area afterwards and even the minimal damage is causing havoc for families. There is a lot of water damage and glass everywhere. Since the storm it rained more the next day but finally there was a dry spell. They are testing the tornado warning system again though as there is another storm expected tonight.
I went to look at the old apartment complex where I lived as a student and it was gone, alone with most of the buildings in the area where the storm hit. There is just a pile of rubble. You can smell the gas lines and the water lines are broken. St John's hospital was hit, but patients were moved before the storm happened.
It's inspiring to see how people are helping each other. There are people who have lost their homes and so have volunteered to help others. There are local churches on the outskirts of the area that have opened up as places for people to stay, local businesses are offering shelter and there is a community centre that has opened as a centre for supplies. There's clean water, food and clean clothing there. Mostly people are looking for food, clean clothing and water, baby food and infant clothing.
There has been a lack of power and telephone lines, people are unable to charge mobile phones because there is no power. Kansas City is about three hours away and this morning they arrived with power trucks so that people could use a little bit of electricity.
Right now some people are leaving town ahead of the next storm to stay with friends and relatives. In the city, at least 1,000 people are searching every house and every building to find every person. The main concern is that there are people trapped in their homes where they sheltered from the tornado.
Neil drove 40 miles from Arkansas with supplies coordinated on Facebook and delivered to shelters in Joplin. He recorded video along he way of the devastation.
We are 40 miles south of Joplin in Arkansas. My wife did charity work in Haiti and I was in Japan when the earthquake hit. When we heard about the tornado damage we knew we had to help out. I called my boss and told him I would not be in work the day after the tornado.
A lot of the coordination happened on Facebook where people posted what they were looking for and other people worked out where to meet to put supplies together. Big companies have donated a lot of money but individuals here in Arkansas read the lists, went to the supermarkets to buy things like fresh water and nappies and then drop them off with people who were taking them to Joplin.
It's not easy getting into Joplin. Many parts of the roads are blocked and there are crews working on parts of the road too. People seem to be coping, but when I was there it just kept on raining and there was still lightning in the sky. They are under flood warning and they still keep working.
We are under tornado alerts in Arkansas at the moment too. The kids are really tired because we keep waking them up to move them when he sirens go off. But everyone here is pulling together. These are small town places and the communities are making it the best place to be.