From Ojai with Love: Joplin Tornado Victims To be Sent Care Packages on Monday
In the late 1890's a congressman from Missouri said, "Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me." With that riveting statement, Missouri became known as the 'Show Me' state. Now some 120 years later amidst the deadliest tornado in recorded U.S. history, Missouri is needing others now to show them — care and assurance that their cries of despair and urgent needs after being hit by a killer twister are not falling on deaf ears.
Several Ojai residents, stirred by compassion at seeing the massive destruction that struck the Joplin, Missouri area last Sunday killing at least 124 people and destroying more than 8,000 buildings, are rallying to the cause.
Diane Silvester, owner of Soul Centered, at 311 North Montgomery Street, will be accepting donations for area Joplin tornado victims through Sunday, May 29 and numerous intuitives will also be donating 10% of sales from readings during Soul Centered's weekend Psychic Faire. Sequoia Hamilton, founder of Ojai Writers Conference whose hometown area is Joplin, will ship the donations to families she personally knows who "lost everything," including a high school classmate who emerged from the rubble with only one shoe.
"In a crisis of this enormous scale with about 1,500 people still unaccounted for, it's important not to overlook the stories and lives of individual persons," adds Hamilton. "So we'll be collecting items for Sheryl Gorman (age 48, shoe size 9, shirt size medium, and pants size 8 tall) a high school classmate of mine who lost her house, cars, barn, pets, horses, all her belongings .... everything. We can only imagine her grief and shock. By keeping our eyes focused on Sheryl and her family, we can help one person, one family at a time rebuild their lives. We'll attempt to bring light into her life during one of her darkest hours."
Hamilton, who has numerous relatives and friends in the Joplin area has been connecting with loved ones mainly via Facebook. In one post from a relative, she discovered that she lost a cousin who was on the 6th floor of St. John's Regional Medical Hospital when it took a direct hit from the tornado traveling at speeds that topped 200 mph. "My cousin was in ICU, on the same floor where my own mother had died years earlier," says Hamilton, "I had an image of my mother and angels being there to assist my cousin and others during their transition."
Another relative of Hamilton’s was near Home Depot when the F5 tornado hit, flipping his car several times and ejecting his friend from the car. Another relative, a 92-year-old senior, was in her house when the roof was blown off and windows shattered. Both relatives were quickly attended to and are recovering. “We’re all in shock,” Hamilton added, “the scene looks like the movie set of War of Worlds at Universal City’s backlot. It’s just surreal, especially when you see the aerial shots. Just heart-breaking.”
Meteorologists claim the tornado "turned right" on Joplin, swinging back around with increased velocity, like the childhood game of crack-the-whip. Only a few storm chasers saw the tornado turn in its tracks and head towards Joplin. Unsuspecting residents report that the tornado was masked by torrential rain and golf ball-sized hail as it cleared a path almost a mile wide and six miles long. When the sirens went off, alarming the town of approximately 50,000 of impending danger, residents only had less than 17 minutes to find shelter or respond.
Hamilton is quick to note, "After the monster storm ripped through Joplin the rest of the world had hours, days to respond ... the question is, what will we do? What will each person do? I fell in love with Ojai because it reminded me of my small hometown near Joplin, Missouri - where everyone knows each other and being a neighbor means something more than just a warm body living next door. Like Ojai, people in the Joplin area are some of the most genuine and caring people I have ever met. I inherited a family farm in Southwest Missouri that was homesteaded in 1869 during Ulysses S. Grant's presidency - needless to say my roots run deep there as they do here in Ojai."
Unknown to most people, and not covered in the national media, after the tornado tore a hole through the heart of Joplin traveled southeast, skipping across the countryside leaving houses and small towns decimated in its wake.
"Minutes after Joplin, the tornado hit my rural hometown of Diamond, Missouri (population 600, near Carthage, Missouri), best known for being the birthplace of scientist George Washington Carver, a playmate of my great-grandfather.” Carter is famous for his inventions with peanuts and was honored with the first national monument dedicated to an African-American and an individual other than a U.S. President. George Washington Carver’s gravestone reads “He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.”
"Being helpful is what is needed right now," Hamilton adds. Many holy scriptures attempt to guide us in how we should live. One of Hamilton's favorites is from the Holy Bible, verse 1 John 3:18, "Let us not love merely with words, but let our love be known through action." Hamilton concludes,"So thank you to all the lovely souls in Southern California who are reaching out and blessing a life, by taking action."
Donations collected at Soul Centered will go to Sheryl Gorman and other Joplin area residents. Donations can also be made by texting “JOPLIN” to 80888 to make an automatic $10 donation to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief Efforts, by calling (417) 832-9500 to make a donation to American Red Cross by credit card or check, or by visiting a website set up specifically for Missouri Tornado Relief at www.mo.gov.