January 12, 2014

January 12th, 2014 StoryStarter prompt: Half-buried in the rubble was a small pink shoe decorated with shiny silver stars...

On May 11, 2011, a city less than three hundred miles to the south and west of where I call home, was nearly obliterated. An EF5 tornado ripped through the heart of the Joplin, MO, leaving mass destruction in its wake. The death toll stands at 160 (some counts say 161).

It was like a bad dream. Have you ever stared at a scene so devastating, so haunting...knowing you should look away, yet found yourself completely unable to even blink? If you're human, if you have one shred of compassion within you, you feel the telltale sting at the back of your eyes. Your heart squeezes inside your chest for the people who have, who are, and who will continue to suffer from the trauma for many years to come.

There are no words adequate enough for me to make up a story to sufficiently describe what it must have been like for these people. Or the terror they must feel crawl up their spine every time the skies darken and the threat of severe weather looms on the horizon.

Someday, when you have some time on your hands and are surfing the 'net, Google "Joplin tornado" and wade through the images. Read the words. And then, the next time you hear the tornado sirens going off in your immediate area, please don't be complacent. Heed the warnings and take cover. There are no "do-overs" in situations like this. Life does not come with a money back guarantee.

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Lori L. Clark

Lori L. Clark currently resides in Hazelwood, MO with three rescue dogs. When Lori isn't listening to the voices in her head, waiting for the next creative inspiration to strike, she also loves to read, run, paint pet portraits and save dogs. Email Lori at

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