Reflections on The Joplin Tornado – Ed Faught

Reflections on The Joplin Tornado

Ed Faught

On May 22, 2011 an EF-5 tornado struck the city of Joplin in the Ozark Mountains of southwestern Missouri. The tornado injured over 1,000 people and killed 161 people. Estimates for insured property damage vary from $1.9 billion to $3 billion for the city of about 50,000 people. The storm destroyed a hospital, high school, churches, homes, and other infrastructures. Communication was difficult because the tornado knocked down 17 cell phone towers. The infrastructure city damage made disaster response challenging. St. John’s Regional Medical Center set up triage in the parking lot only to have to move the triage when the hospital caught on fire.

More than 2,000 homes and businesses were destroyed and 20,000 homes lost power. The city had 25 emergency sirens; many ignored the sirens and did take shelter until it was too late. One of Joplin’s nursing homes was hit by the tornado and the bodies were deposited on the main commercial street. The tornado became the seventh deadliest in U.S. history and the deadliest in more than 60 years. As a result of the tornado, meteorological and emergency management organizations reevaluated administering tornado

dramatically improved during the past 20 years.
tornado warnings to encourage people to take shelter when warnings are issued.
Tornado picture from the CBS News:

warnings. The science of tornado detection has The National Weather Service changed the wording of

Doppler radar has evolved to detect debris in the air while the older radar technology might give false warnings. Even though the warnings could be a waste of time, it is best to take the warnings seriously. The dead from Joplin’s tornado would agree.

** Ed Faught retired at 24 years combined service in the US Army and National Guard. Ed has a B.A. in Computer and Information Systems and working on an Instructional Technology Masters program and a Masters in Emergency Management.


CBS News. Copyright © 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from
Cohen, N. (2011, May 22). Tornado Hits Missouri City, Killing Many. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from
Murphy, K. (2011, May 23). Tornado devastates Joplin, Missouri, 116 dead. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from
Freedman, A. (2012, May 22). The Joplin Tornado, One Year Later: Where Does it Rank? Retrieved April 06, 2017, from

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