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Joplin Devastation and #21

Why has the spring of 2011 seen so many tornadoes and severe weather issues? I’m dumbfounded at much damage/devastation this spring has seen. I have no idea if it’s “climate change”/global warming behind all this and I’m ignoring conspiracy theorists blaming these deadly storms on outlandish government plots to rule the world, like this. Seeing destruction and suffering like the images we saw after the F-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO becomes far more personal and disturbing when you know someone who has lived through it. My friend Brandon Spiegel is a sports reporter at KOAM in the Joplin MO/Pittsburg KS market. We graduated from Mizzou together and both spent plenty of time at KOMU covering various events, including several road trips to follow MU football to Kansas State and Oklahoma State. I had exchanged texts with him every once in a while, the last I can recall involved sending one his way while driving through Joplin after Missouri football dismantled Miami (OH) in September of 2010, but thankfully with Twitter and Facebook it’s easy to stay in touch or up-to-date with friends from college so you’re always able to find out what people are up to. It’s very easy for our generation to keep friends.

So upon hearing of the tornado(s) that hit Joplin last week, my first thought of was Brandon and whether he was OK, but I knew since he worked in Pittsburg KS, he may not have been home at the time. I had been following the Weather Channel all day because of thunderstorms in DFW, so I witnessed TWC’s reporter lose his composure during a live shot because of how bad the damage was, and subsequent live hits showing the devastation. I saw several friends on social media sites post messages to Brandon hoping he was OK. On Monday, he posted something to the effect of “I’m fine, apartment is gone”, and later in the week posted pictures of the rubble where his apartment was. He eventually posted this picture of an old #21 Mizzou baseball jersey he owned and recovered in rubble about 100 yards from where his apartment had been.

As Mizzou Athletics’ “One Mizzou” campaign began to help the Joplin area recover, the MU baseball team decided to obtain the jersey and bring it to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 championship. The team hung the jersey in their dugout for the Saturday/Sunday games, in which MU advanced to the championship final game and was within one strike of a miracle upset over heavily-favored Texas A&M, which would have sent the Tigers to the NCAA tournament despite a losing overall record. Beforehand, though, we decided to do a story on the jersey, which, in its second game of the day on Saturday, saw its counterpart, Kelly Fick (also wearing #21) hurl 7 shutout innings against the Big 12 powerhouse Texas Longhorns and advance to the championship final game. Thanks to some extra info from Brandon, I put together this story about the jersey and what its journey to Oklahoma City meant to the upstart Tigers. KOMU also had a story on the jersey for the Sunday sports show, but I haven’t seen it since it’s essentially the same plot as what I did. I tried to make mine more of an overview for the Big 12’s audience that may not know as much about MU’s efforts to help Joplin, as compared to something KOMU would do in a more humanistic/focused story. I am happy my friend is OK, but the images of the storm’s destruction are stomach-churning. While I have no money to contribute to any sort of cause (I’m essentially broke) I’ll do anything to help that area recover. I have plenty of books, clothes, and miscellaneous, unnecessary items people could use. When I move out of Dallas, I know for sure I’ll have items to donate. The least I can do…

 

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  1. Latest blog posts | Brian Mortensen on Monday, June 6, 2011 at 1:40 am

    […] Joplin Devastation and #21 Why has the spring of 2011 seen so many tornadoes and severe weather issues? I’m dumbfounded at much damage/devastation this spring has seen. I have no idea if it’s “climate change”/global warming behind all this and I’m ignoring conspiracy theorists blaming these deadly storms on outlandish government plots to rule the world, like this. Seeing […] […]

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