Now a permanent windsock, this slice of corrugated metal shows the way the tornado traveled from West to East across the school campus.

Arrived in the afternoon and headed for the MSSU campus parking lot to find out what our game plan would be for the next day. With paperwork in hand, they told us to come back at 8am tomorrow. They said ” OK” to park the bus in their lot and boondock overnight. Too hot! We called around and quickly checked into Shoal Creek CG about 8 miles away. Ah... electric and AC all night.

Toured tornado wreckage after setting up the bus. Found the heart of the wreckage by putting St John's hospital into the GPS, having seen the story and images of this place being near ground zero of the destruction.

Looking at these photos after visiting the site isn't fair. Like this image of St John's Hospital, you won't appreciate that every window was missing- jagged around the edges. That every corridor had the wiring dropped down, and the ducts hanging on, and the roof see-through and nature's display of strength upon what once was the top of the hill. IF you haven't read the story about this hospital, do it now. Here's a link to the story.

Home Depot re-established their presence quickly in a tent, at this time of increased demand for building supplies. Wal Mart on the other hand will miss out on the early materialistic demand of this catastrophe since their store was leveled, and their sign says they wont be back until the fall of 2011.

Back view of the First Community Church appears to reveal a minor brush with the tornado, uprooting a few trees and leaving their masonry building alone...

..until you drive around the side and glance into the sanctuary and see the keys on the organ, perched just a few feet from the cliff that was once an altar.

The hardest hit neighborhood appeared to be mostly older construction, with lathe and plaster walls amid modern building methods, as well as many years of shingle layers and concepts in a disheartening display. A tour about techniques of construction could showcase decades of different styles, sliced neatly through the middle showing the finished product next to the layers that created the look- in house after house after house, surrounded by a foundation wiped clean, then a home untouched. This small home had a hand written message on the curb side: "I LOST MY MOM AT 2446 DOOLEY, NOW SHES IN HEAVEN WITH JESUS AND JOHNNY CASH. I LOVE YOU MOMMA"

Sucked up by Mother Natures vacuum and shifted 10 feet in its entirety, this home crumbled onto itself during the move, with the basement opened up for viewing like a Tupperware lid had been peeled back.

Driving around, through the center of the wreckage without much other traffic, we asked again: "what is it?". We're guessing this is another church, showing it's baptismal pool at the front of the sanctuary, now in plain view for the entire neighborhood.

This tornado was very picky, taking an entire business to it's foundation, slicing off one half of their neighbor, and leaving the ice cream stand intact, and the only business in this mall open for business. Wal Mart was just behind this row of businesses, and did not survive, it's common blue signs and grey walls now represented by a lone truck trailer and a promise to be back in business in a few months.

After an unreal, sobering tour we returned to try and make it an early night- but excited to get started, it was difficult to go to sleep. Continued looking at all of the Joplin assistance websites to decide which direction to go tomorrow. We had seen lots of churches that have tents outside and then read about them coordinating donations from their denomination members across the nation, then disseminating those donations. The main message that I take away from all of the reading is that it’s better to become part of the established system and go into it as a cog in the wheel already in motion, than to try and insert yourself where you (we) think it’s best. So we’re going to check in with the main coordinating agency: Americorps. One of our objectives is to work together as a family. I've heard that the last 20 years I’ve been leaving the family to volunteer (with the fire department) and this is our chance to take on a challenge together- so we may not make it into the ‘field’. The field is the vague description for where the houses are destroyed, debris is laying evenly across several miles of flattened homes, and the risks are the greatest to volunteers. No one under 15 is permitted in those areas, so we’ll stick together ‘behind the scenes’.