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by Miki Booth

Devastation as far as the eye can see.

(May 31, 2011) — Joplin, Missouri is my “big city.” Less than 30 minutes away it has all the conveniences of any average city of 50,000 people. However on any given day that number swells to almost double since nearly 45,000 people pull off of major Interstate I-44 to gas up, eat in any number of fast food or chain restaurants up and down Rangeline Road or shop at the Northpark mall or any number of specialty shops. The interstate is the demarkation point on the south side of town and Rangeline is a major thoroughfare to the mall and Missouri Southern State University on the north side of town.

I’m really familiar with Joplin and know a lot of people there because during the years 2000 to 2004, I was the Director of Sales and Marketing for a major convention hotel located just off the Interstate. I served the community as Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Joplin Visitors and Convention Bureau and as Vice President of Soroptimists International of Joplin. Fred and I still do our main shopping there and whenever we pass St. John’s hospital I think about my mom who passed away in 2007. I spent many hours in the emergency room and hospital rooms with mom in the last years of her decline.

I’m telling you this because I felt compelled to say something about the terrible disaster that hit Joplin a week and a day ago. Fred was notified immediately when the tornado hit because he’s close to the law enforcement community serving as Director of Security for the Quapaw tribe’s Indian casino and former Undersheriff for our county. So as the horrific aftermath of the tragedy played out he kept me informed.

As many of you know, help came from everywhere to assist. It was utter chaos and communications between the responding city, county, and states with Joplin Police, Fire and Rescue did not flow which was one of the biggest problems in the moments, hours and even days after the tornado. Fred tells me that the Joplin police department has a microwave-type communication system. It’s a good system that comes in very clear and the secure channel isn’t listened-in on by the public with police scanners but that meant emergency, fire, police, sheriff, volunteers and first responders from other areas with traditional radio systems couldn’t communicate with Joplin which was the Command Center. But police, rescue and national guard performed heroic measures responding to Joplin in their hour of need. They actually ended up using “runners” like in ancient times to relay messages. It was not a way to find out weaknesses but a lesson learned for Joplin. Perhaps others will seriously look at the information that comes out of the de-briefing meetings that will surely come in time. An example of the result of communication challenges turned up a man hospitalized in the makeshift MASH-style facility at Memorial Hall was earlier identified as dead in a temporary morgue.

The makeshift morgue was set up on the outskirts of town. A warehouse was filled with several refrigerated trucks where professionals could perform the gruesome work of identifying human remains some intact some merely pieces of flesh. Police were posted on the road leading to the morgue tasked with the responsibility of keeping curiosity-seekers out especially news media. That included CNN but when they were stopped on the road by the two police officers and told to turn off their cameras and turn around, they threw a hissy fit and reporter Gary Tuchman speaking to Anderson Cooper sensationalized the incident by reporting “strange things going on,” and a “secret morgue that no one will talk about.” Tuchman goes on to say that “even the families don’t know where it is” and “they’re afraid to talk about if for fear of getting in trouble.”


Me on the east side of St. John's.

The nation and the world is turning out for Joplin. Businesses and churches have already started rebuilding. It’s said that Joplin is the buckle of the “bible belt” and I agree. The long time residents of the 4-state area of  Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas are mostly white, conservative and christian so when Obama turned his back on Joplin and continued his european vacation we didn’t care because we knew how he really feels about us. In fact when many of us heard he would be in Joplin on sunday a week later for Memorial Day we wanted to have nothing to do with his visit. Even the press pointed out that he had little political equity to be gained here.

I wanted to go to boo him and bring protest signs. That’s what I wanted to do when I first heard he was coming but Fred said it wasn’t the time or place. I wondered where Obama would speak to the people of Joplin. Would it be on a portable stage surrounded by victims and rescuers overlooking devastation as far as the eye could see? Perhaps by St. Mary’s church mostly destroyed except for the cross that remained intact and steadfastly shining against the clear blue sky after the tornado passed.

I curiously wondered but when I found out what he ended up doing I was so angry I had to write this piece. Obama insulated himself from the community. His appearance was carefully staged and orchestrated. It was held indoors at MSSU, Missouri Southern State University, where he could use his teleprompters. His audience was comprised of students and faculty which is to be expected but when I learned who else was there the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

MSSU had set up a Volunteer Resource Center staffed by AmeriCorps. Yes, former ACORN employees, now paid members of the homeland security “professional civilian corps,”—Obama’s Brownshirts.

Word was out also that the Westboro cult would be in Joplin to protest the memorial service. Alan, our son, had suggested taking air horns to blast in the faces and ears of  the cult members that showed up. Fred was in Joplin early on Sunday and called me to say there were hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles in town and they were gathering at the Sears parking lot at the mall which is one block away from MSSU. We found out later that there were over 300 bikers that came as a result of word-of-mouth alerts and spread by truckers over their CB’s.

In the parking lot of MSSU during the memorial service one person was identified as a member of Westboro and was harassed and somewhat pummeled until the police stepped in and removed him before he got more than just a torn shirt. The crowd hooped and hollered, lots of obscenities were shouted at the cult member and the revving of motorcycles filled the air. Best of all was the sound of air horns.

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  1. Miki,

    Oh what a wonderful story! Hot dog! Can always count on us regular people.

    But I want to know where the flags came from when barry came into town–pics on the news showed people standing on street corners with no devastation all hooting, hollering and waving flags. I wonder who passed out those flags and who were the people holding them–seui–brown shirts? Must of been, I don’t see the conservatives doing this, as this was no celebration. However the choir did give him a standing O–which I felt was the wrong thing to do. He isn’t deserving of one ounce of respect.

    Thanks Miki for the great story!

  2. My wife just heard on the TV that PBO was sending the Katrina trailers to Joplin. I recall that they were contaminated. If these trailers do make it to Joplin it might be good to verify they weren’t the ones that made people sick in New Orleans.
    All PBO’s appearances are carefully staged photo ops, by the way.

  3. Found this the other day…….


    Joplin. Cops took my gun

    so i went to the peace rally and memorial service in Joplin.
    first was the main strip. Rangline Rd. were almost 1000 of us were holding signs and uplifting the victims of the Tornado. then we all move to across the university. across the street where Westburo is suppose to protest. they never did but thats a different story. i notice many were open carrying, as there was hundreds of bikers and people from all walks of life i did too.
    then a Joplin City officer asks me to come over and talk to him. i told him politely i’d rather not, he politely said i needed to. so i complied. he explained that in this situation (westbaro was set to arrive any minute) that i should secure it in my car, i asked if he was gonna ask all 500 or so of the bikers there to do the same. he said no, it would just make the police more comfortable. i said no problem and headed toward my car. i got 2 steps and a captn from Kansas City grabbed me by the arm and said” NO im gonna take that gun” i asked when i could get it back and he said ” WHen the president has left the area” so i got his name and hung around for 2 hours or so.
    westboro never shows so after all the bikers left the parking lot i drove my car up so i can sit in the shade. he come to my window and says “lets go get it” only to press me up aginst my car and start patting me down. ***? i mean he already took my gun right?
    then he says hes gonna arrest me for possession for a firearm on a presidential
    route. im like “okay? how about all the other people that had guns.”
    he says “thats not the point”
    i didnt argue with him past that point.
    but how is anyone suppose to know what route the POTUS is going to take?
    its a guarded secret until right before they take it.
    i and everyone there wasent even at the university to see him speak or drive in.
    anyhow a Joplin Detective
    in uniform took down my info and said he was gonna give it to the DA to see if he wanted to file charges. otherwise i could go pick up my gun and ammo from the police station.
    he didt arrest me, gave me his card and said e mail was the best way to reach him. i wonder now if he was just appeasing the police captn that was being such a **** to me.
    i thanked him for his professionalism and went on my way.

    im so freaking pissed.

    this was my only personal carry weapon too.


    1. I just found out from my husband that Westboro vehicles did come to Joplin but motorcycles stopped them before they got into town. There was only one person that actually made it to the parking lot of MSSU.

      No doubt the Kansas City cop was a fan of Obummer. Most cops and bikers were NOT there for him.