Today in Joplin

I thought about writing about something completely un-tornado related but every time I try I don’t get much more than a sentence or two. It’s just not where my mind is – writing about anything else right now feels dishonest.

So here I go: I have to write about Will Norton. Will is an amazing guy. He is on his way to Chapman in California for college – his dream school. He makes films and he’s just talented beyond his years. In my handful of conversations with Will I can tell you that he’s funny, caring, and passionate about life. He has a staggering number of friends. He has a wonderful sister, parents, aunt – basically a family who love him immeasurably.

He was driving home from his high school graduation with his dad and was pulled out of his vehicle by the tornado; at the time they were at the bottom of our street, almost to their neighborhood. Will is still missing.

Today an army of his loved ones are forming a search and looking for him again. His aunt just posted this on the Help Find Will Norton Facebook page:

“Everyone, the teams are out looking in an organized search. So much faith, love, and true unselfishness. I marvel at how wonderful people are. It’s so easy to focus on the bad but there really is a lot of good in this world. Praise God. Love, Aunt Tracey.”

Please send prayers, thoughts, positive energy … I don’t even know the right words … just send hope because he needs to be found. He needs to be okay.

Of course, Will is just one of many still lost. The stories are heartbreaking. I just happen to know Will and his family. I hope to be adding an update soon that is a good ending. Joplin needs some good endings right now. The adrenalin has faded, looters have shown their ugly faces, and the reality is like a sledgehammer. Soon the media will leave and the celebrities will be gone and we will begin to rebuild. But for today we’re not there yet. Today we hope for successful searches and we secure our remaining belongings.

For those of you who are my neighbors in Joplin: Stay strong, stay hopeful – cling to each other and say yes to those bottles of water – the people passing them out need to know they’re helping just as much as we need the help. God bless.

May 28, 2011 UPDATE –  It’s with a sad and heavy heart that I share these words from Will’s aunt: “Everyone, tonight is a sad night for us. I’m sorry to tell you that Will was found but he was not alive. We are grieving deeply. It brightens our lives to know that even in his passing he touched lives. We will write more soon but tonight we will mourn as a family. Please pray for Mark, Trish and Sara as well as my parents. God bless you all. Please pray for those still lost and hurting. Aunt Tracey”

I know that in the near future there will be a time to celebrate Will’s life. However, today I grieve over his passing. Will is most assuredly in a better place but I know that his family and friends would much rather have him here. Will’s aunt told us that Will was quoting scripture when pulled out of his vehicle. The only one I feel in this moment is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”


13 thoughts on “Today in Joplin

  1. I love your strength, Amy. I truly feel for you, your family and your community. All of you are in my prayers and thoughts. Keep the faith.

  2. Thanks for posting. You are the voice of many, and we need to know how things are progressing, how to pray…Hoping to hear a good report on Will very soon!

  3. Praying for Will and everyone else in Joplin. I think of amazing you are that you think to take the water. You are so right. Even those who are helping need to feel like they are making a difference in people’s lives.

  4. While having no idea what you all are going through, I can say with confidence that our hearts are heavy for you all. With each new story someone always lets out an audible groan. Your pain is felt, while knowing it’s no where near your reality. We in Eastern Iowa are so very sorry for what you all are going through. And at the risk of being cliche, we really are praying for you.

  5. Amy, your blog and tornado-related posts are a way to keep the outside world (outside of Joplin) aware of the crisis your city is facing. You also keep the other cities and towns on our mind, as we know Joplin wasn’t the only city hit by destructive storms.

    Please continue your tornado-related posts. Keep the topic on the surface, so the help will continue to pour in to the people and places needing it most. You are in the thoughts and prayers of many. ~ Lenore

  6. When you’re a writer getting words out is part of dealing with devastation. Hopefully that simple process brings some sanity to you during such a challenging time. Thanks for the perspective again.

  7. Dear Amy,
    I am a college friend of your mom’s and have been thinking of you and everyone in your area, as I know though the storm has passed, but the loss is so much more difficult to survive. Your positive spirit is infectious….

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