People begin long cleanup after storm
William Dueker was one of the few people walking through the St. John’s Regional Health Center parking lot on Monday afternoon.
Dueker had a reason to be there, though. His wife’s car, what appeared to be an orange PT Cruiser, was the bottom of a dogpile of cars on the north side of St. John’s.
“I just got here. My wife worked in the E.R.,” Dueker said. “I didn’t know anything happened last night until my Grandma called to check on me.”
In fact, he wasn’t even sure where his wife’s car would be. But while watching television and looking at photos of the devastation, the couple spotted their familiar car.
By Monday afternoon, Dueker was beginning the long work of attempting to drag a few personal effects out of the interior of his wife’s car. There weren’t a lot of items to get. The car is almost new.
“We hadn’t even paid a payment on it. We just bought it,” Dueker said.
Elsewhere, between the peals of thunder and the blankets of rain that tended to coat the area on Monday, chainsaws roared and shards of debris were shoved away.
Among those recovering the remnants of their property was Mike Flynn.
“I’ve lived here 20 years. It’s devastating to see all this. It’s kind of like where do you start? How do you get the whole town cleaned up?” Flynn said.
And Flynn meant the whole town. As he reviewed the devastation, Flynn considered the storm’s effects on the city as a whole.
“I’ve never seen anything like this. It just gutted the city. It hit the high school, the churches, Franklin Tech, the hospital, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Academy ...” he said.
Steve Vanderpool was among those trying to help the first responders get back on their feet after another round of storms came through Monday morning, carrying hail, lightning, wind and rain.
He was among those working to re-establish a search and rescue station on the west side of St. John’s as of 1 p.m.
“There are still 20 blocks that have not been searched. We send out teams, and if they find someone with light injuries, we can treat them here. If they have heavy injuries, we will send an ambulance to take them to Memorial Hall.”
Nearby, Samantha Quackenbush, with the Salvation Army, was helping provide meals for those wandering the streets. Quackenbush was one of many Missouri Southern State students helping out in the wake of the tornado. She described the devastation as “a lot of nothing.”
“You can’t ever tell what buildings used to be. You can’t identify anything in the area to what is under this mess. To think of all the people that are still being searched for, it breaks your heart,” she said.
Andrew Nash can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.