The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Columns

July 10, 2011

Kevin Wilson, guest columnist: Storm proves it really is small world

The last month and a half has really shown just how small our world really is. Volunteers have flocked to Joplin from all over the world and they have come motivated by a real and intense desire to help in some way. To them I say amen and God bless you. 

With this many volunteers there is sometimes an eclectic feel to a town that before the tragedy was very much typical Midwestern in almost every way. One group that has volunteered their money, time and energy has brought a definite Cajun flair to Joplin. The folks from Gonzales, La., have been serving up jambalaya, red beans and rice, and other great Cajun dishes to the hungry volunteers stationed out of Missouri Southern.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Charlotte Guedry, editor of The Gonzales Weekly Citizen, asking me some questions about the area. I wondered how the heck she got my email and why is she asking me. The answer just illustrates my earlier statement of it being a small world. The week before I had talked with my good friend Doug Crews with the Missouri Press Association about another volunteer association, and apparently Charlotte had contacted him with some questions and he referred them to me.

I answered Charlotte’s inquiries as best I could and put her in contact with people in Joplin who could assist her. The next thing I knew, there were a bunch of Cajun cooks serving up some of the best jambalaya in the world. You see, these folks are serious about their jambalaya. I guess you have to be when you host the annual Jambalaya Festival and World Champion Jambalaya Cooking contest.

Every Memorial Day weekend since 1967, thousands of people have flocked to this small town located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. And they are not disappointed. The three-day festival offers up the best jambalaya you will ever taste.

My wife, Melody, and I volunteered a couple of Saturdays ago with the group and we were fascinated by the way they could mass cook 1,200 servings of jambalaya and yet be of world champion quality. That, my folks, comes from a lot of practice and a whole lot of dedication to the craft.

And, let me make it clear that the money to support their efforts came from the residents in and around the Gonzales area, and the people that came to cook took time off from their work and personal schedules to spend several weeks helping people they didn’t even know. What a great testimony. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make it to the actual festival itself, but I know that we sure appreciate them bringing a little bit of Louisiana to Joplin.

This is just one small story of the thousands that can and will be told over the next several years about how this tragedy has brought people together. The most amazing thing to me is how present God has been through this devastation. He uses people in ways that they cannot even fathom and brings hope out of despair. 

Yes, it will be years before Joplin returns to some semblance of normalcy, and it will be forever changed by the tragic events of May 22, 2011. But, because of the outpouring of support from the world community, and the way the residents have handled this tragedy, the Joplin that rises out of the debris will be even stronger than before. That is the lesson that we need to remember and the legacy that will be left.

Kevin Wilson lives in Neosho. He is a former state representative.  

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Tornado: Columns
  • Premier Turbines plant in Neosho to close, 80 jobs lost

    Premier Turbines will close its Neosho plant some time in early 2015.
    Chris Pratt, director of communications for Dallas Airmotive, which has owned the plant since 2003, said 80 jobs will be cut.

    June 26, 2014

  • Susan Redden: McCaskill praises Joplin cooperation

    At least two things she saw in Joplin need to be replicated in Washington, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said during a visit last week.
    A strong spirit of cooperation is driving Joplin’s rebuilding, she said. And,  the senator said there is a realization “that federal programs have a place.”

    August 28, 2011

  • Mark Rohr, guest columnist: Miracle of the human spirit ever-pervasive since tornado

    Monday marks 100 days since the worst tornado in our country in the past 70 years tore through our community, leaving lost lives and destroyed property in its wake. As I have said before, that fateful day in late May will be the defining moment in all of our lives whether we want it to be or not.

    August 28, 2011

  • Ron Richard, guest columnist: Partnership can spur recovery

    The tornado that ravaged Joplin and the flooding affecting Missouri River towns and businesses are both human and economic tragedies.

    August 28, 2011

  • Wally Kennedy: Flocks expected for Chick-fil-A opening

    The stocking of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 2127 S. Range Line Road is under way in preparation for a grand reopening on Thursday. The restaurant was among 25 or so eateries on Main Street and Range Line Road that were destroyed by the May 22 tornado.

    August 27, 2011

  • Susan Redden: State officials argue about disaster money

    Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is under fire from two different fronts, both relating to plans for a special legislative session in which the Joplin tornado and its economic impact will most certainly be a topic.

    August 21, 2011

  • Wally Kennedy: Walgreen’s to reopen both stores Monday

    Monday will be a big day for two of the three stores that Walgreen’s operates in Joplin. The Walgreen’s at 20th and Main streets sustained significant damage on May 22. It was at the north edge of the tornado’s damage zone. It has had a major makeover.

    August 20, 2011

  • Aspen Bowman Roger Nomer: Image a ‘revelation’ for photographer

    The sky looked dark, but nothing more unusual than a typical springtime storm.
    I was on duty May 22 at the Globe, and had just finished taking photos of Joplin High School’s graduation when the storm sirens started to sound at Missouri Southern State University.

     

    August 19, 2011 1 Photo

  • Jo Ellis: Small deeds will make a big impact

    A big, big thanks to all who have called, emailed or written to me saying they want to participate in Nature-Joplin (Nurture a Tree-Urban Reforestation Effort-Joplin) to help Joplin recover from the May 22 tornado that scoured the landscape.

    August 14, 2011

  • Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Safe room will always be reminder of May 22

    The afternoon of May 22, I emailed a story to my editor from my home office just before the tornado sirens sounded in Pittsburg.

    August 14, 2011