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The Show Me Spirit

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The Home Depot store is no longer standing in Joplin, MO, but the clerks are busy selling building materials in the parking lot. Nine days after a massive tornado tore through the middle of town, flattening everything in its path with 200-m.p.h. winds, the residents of Joplin–mourning at least 132 dead and still searching for 156 missing–are lifting the spirits of the nation with their resilience and determination to rebuild. Within hours of the deadly May 22 storm, the world began to understand the solid character of the people of Joplin as story after story emerged of heroic acts of individual courage and sacrifice in the face of certain death. We don’t know their names, but we will not forget the grocery store clerk who perished holding the door to a walk-in freezer closed so that a dozen people inside could survive, or the nurses at St. John’s Regional Medical Center who ran upstairs to save bedridden patients as the tornado slammed directly into the hospital, carrying away its top floor. Six people died at the medical center, but thanks to the heroic staff 183 were safely evacuated. “It was like a bomb went off inside on every floor,” St. John’s chief executive Gary Pulsipher told reporters. The medical center became an iconic image of the May 22 storm, its windows blown out and its Medivac helicopter lying on its side. So did the local Home Depot, demolished beyond recognition, shards of its familiar orange sign winding around twisted debris on the ground. Today, the hospital and the home improvement store also are serving as landmarks to the undiminished spirit of the people of Joplin. Less than a week after the tornado struck, St. John’s resumed operations: a temporary tent hospital has been set up across the street from the wrecked building; trailers house MRI and CAT scan units; two new helipads have been paved. While most of the 900 who were injured in the tornado are being treated in neighboring towns, St. John’s says it’s now able to handle up to 60 patients at a time in its makeshift facilities. “We can do already what we used to do in our big building, just on a smaller scale, and as we go through the next few weeks that scale will grow,” Dr. Bob Dodson, St. John’s trauma medical director, told CBS News. In a stroke of good luck, he added, all of the hospital’s medical records remain intact because the facility moved from paper to electronic files just a… …Read More…