Heading east last April, we were chased by tornado-producing storms. We left a late snow storm in Colorado. We left rain in Dodge City, Kansas and shot across the state.
At Greensburg, we turned off the main road to drive down Main Street. I had barely said “it looks like they tore down everything to redevelop the town” when I realized we were seeing the aftermath of the May 2007 EF5 tornado. Indeed, it had torn down 95% of the city and also killed 11 people.
About half the residents left after the storm, but the other half remained to build a “green” town. They used the latest technology in every way they could from water conservation to recycling to energy efficient buildings and LED street lights.
Wanting to put some distance between us and the storm following us, we pressed on and managed to stop a couple days in Joplin, Missouri to rest and do laundry.
We keep telling ourselves we need to slow down on these trips and take a day just doing nothing, but there is always something new to see; we decided to see what we could of Joplin.
Driving around, we stopped to look at several murals. One welcomes you to downtown with a portrayal of local history. Another celebrates Route 66 which passed through the town. Another, made of tiles, is a three-part celebration of a local workshop that teaches people how to make tiles.
But perhaps the most interesting is the “Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight.” Joplin had its own devastating EF5 tornado in May 2011. It cut a swath through Joplin killing 158 people. It was the deadliest tornado to strike the United States since 1947.
After the storm, children reported seeing “butterfly people” who protected them. It is possible it was just one story that became magnified as it was repeated. But nearly 7000 homes were flattened or blown away, and it is amazing more people were not killed. The mural celebrates the fact that “someone” was watching over them. The lead muralist, Dave Lowenstein, included artwork from local children on the wall.
After two nights in Joplin, however, the rain storm caught up with us again. Wanting to get home, not wanting to drive in the rain and not wanting to rely on butterfly people, we moved on.
Click on photos to enlarge.