JOPLIN, Mo. (KMOX) – Video and photographs posted on-line are the best proof of the terrible strength of the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri, Sunday and claimed more than one hundred lives.
Storm Chasers Jeff Piotrowski and Kathryn Piotrowski tracked the tornado through the city, shooting over three hours of footage of the event. The professional storm chasers also stopped to help pull persons out of the rubble.
Multiple users documented their own personal experiences during the storm, including this terrifying recording taken at a Fast Trip Convience store on East 20th Street in Joplin, very near where the tornado did some of the worst damage.
There is not enough light to see the faces of those taking shelter inside, but their voices — and desperate prayers — come through loud and clear.
One of the voices on the tape belonged to Brennan Stebbins. The 23-year-old says he thought he might die at the time. But he says those inside the cooler, about 20 people including several small children, tried to comfort each other.
Stebbins says they all ran into the cooler when the building started to collapse, crouching on the floor, praying and crying as the storm hit in two separate waves. Eventually they were able to crawl out. No serious injuries were reported.
Additional video shows the totality of the destruction along the tornado’s path. Smoke in the distance provides a grim reminder of the lack of essential services – most roads near ground zero were impassable to even emergency vehicles, gas mains were broken, there’s little power in the area and phone service has been largely unavailable.