God's Light

Author: Kristen Hale    

2011 Joplin Tornado

What I think is important to know about the disaster is: How even in the most devastating of times, God’s light shined through.

What I think is important to know about my community is: How the disaster shaped the community in the following months


In 2011, I lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. My sister and I had planned on moving to Joplin, Missouri to live with our dad. When we found out the tornado had hit on May 22, my sister and I were devastated. We got word after a while that our family was okay. That had to have been the biggest relief. We still moved two weeks after the tornado to Joplin, Missouri. I was speechless upon arrival. The town was so torn up. I could see the pain through the damage. Major businesses were destroyed. Houses after houses were gone. We could barely make sense of the streets.

All of the damage was so overwhelming.

Months passed and I would say most of the damage was cleared away leaving over a quarter of the town empty.

I started school in the fall and it was anything but normal. The high school was split up into separate classes. The freshmen and sophomore classes went to a campus on the northwest side of town while the juniors and seniors went to a campus attached to the mall on the other side of town. My sister was a senior and I was a sophomore. Not to make matters worse but I was separated from her. The first day of school was all talk about the tornado. In every class we talked about how this school year would be different from every other one. The school went on, many of the teachers were accommodating to kids needs.

My English teacher Mrs. Hallmark had each and every student write his or her tornado stories. She either read them or had the students read them in class. This helped with the healing process. Many students repressed their feelings and now were able to get them out and have our class as a support group. Many of the students went through some hard things and they were able to relate to each other. My story was different then most but even though I was 12 hours away, the tornado had a big impact on my life. 

  •  What helped me the most was: The support of all the teachers.
  • What stood in the way of my recovery was: The devastation of how bad and how badly the tornado affected the town
  • I have contributed to the recovery of my friends, family, and community in the following ways: I was able to talk to friends and family and just listen to their stories. I feel like just being there to listen was a huge part in the healing process.
  • What I would tell other youth who might be facing the same challenges is: first off, God did not cause this to happen and secondly you are bigger and stronger than you can imagine.


My name is Mackenzie

The community where I live is Joplin, MO

The disaster I experienced was the 2011 Joplin Tornado that destroyed a third of the city.

This is my story of recovery:

“This book was written by my favorite Communication Arts teacher. He really inspired me to actually write, because my other writing teachers were just like "whatever" and Mr. Turner made us actually like "you're a good writer" and so on, which made me want to write. So, after the tornado, when I was in the eighth grade, he told the whole school, “if you want to, you can write anything” and he would put it into a book and get it published." And everybody that had something in the book got to have a copy of it, which is why I have mine. And it made me really happy when I found out that my poem got into his book and it was really awesome.“


Poem “Recovering”:

Two weeks before school is out, something terrible was coming,

But no one knows what.


Tornado sirens wail with all their might, everyone scrambles to a basement,

Or anywhere even the slightest bit safe.


It get's shockingly quiet, while everyone waits

Until the coast is clear.


Then the rumbling starts. It sounds like a train

Rolling down endless tracks.


Windows burst, trees snap like twigs,

Death is in the air.


Hundreds of people, just passed on,

Only one from our school.


It stole many things from us. Our friends and family,

Places we knew,

And even a school


But in all bad things, there's always at least one

Good turn out of it.


We are recovering and growing stronger.

We will have new things and a stronger community.