The tornado in The Wizard of Oz (1939) is one of the most iconic images in the history of film. I doubt that there are many in the United Kingdom and United States, let alone the world, who have not seen this classic in which Dorothy Gale is swept up to Oz by a twister. That having been said, I rather suspect that the average person living outside the Midwestern and Southern United States have any real idea of how much damage a tornado can actually cause. That is until days like today, when Joplin, Missouri (a city of around 50,000 people in the southwestern corner of the state) lies in ruin after a tornado struck yesterday evening.
The images that have aired on television are striking. The city of Joplin looks something like newsreels I have seen of Dresden and other German cities after having been bombed by the Allies--nothing but rubble remains. The death toll has been large for a city of Joplin's size. It currently stands at 116 people. To many living outside the South and Midwest, such a natural disaster caused by cyclonic winds must seem unusual. And the tornado in Joplin was unusual in the path of destruction and death it left in its wake. At the same time, however, for people such as myself, living in Missouri (part of the South where tornadoes are relatively common), in some respects it is not unusual. I have seen the damage caused by tornadoes first hand, although not on the scale of Joplin. And I have known two people who were killed by such a storm that swept through one of the small towns in the southern part of my home county. Even a small tornado is a disaster of some scale. The one in Joplin was a disaster of an enormous scale.
It is because of the tornado in Joplin, a storm which has harmed many of my fellow Missourians, that I am not writing about pop culture tonight. Knowing the damage that even a small tornado can do and having seen what the storm did in Joplin, I find myself much to sad to write about much of anything. I will then simply part by saying my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Joplin this evening. I pray they are spared another storm such as the one they had last night and that the city recovers from this disaster swiftly.
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