Update: Four outstanding aerial view photos of the damage in Joplin are now available at the Daily Mail website . Since they're copyrighted AP photos, they cannot be published here. New casualty figures as of 4:50 P.M. on May 24th have now been posted. Have also found a much better aerial video, which shows Joplin High School and the destroyed stake center; it's embedded towards the end of this post
Upon learning of the killer F5 tornado which devastated the south side of Joplin, Missouri on May 22nd, 2011, I visited the Meetinghouse Locator at Mormon.org to determine if any facilities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have been affected. The Meetinghouse Locator indicates that there is an LDS chapel located at 2107 S. Indiana, used by both the Joplin First Ward and the Joplin Second Ward, grouped within the Joplin Missouri Stake.
Media descriptions of the path of the tornado, which touched down around 5:41 P.M. May 22nd just west of the St. John's Medical Center and which was 1/2 mile wide and traveled six miles, indicate that the chapel may have been directly in the path of this tornado. Thus there was the possibility that this chapel had been damaged or totally destroyed. However, there was no initial confirmation of the chapel's status either by official LDS sources or by media sources. But Joplin High School, which incurred serious damage, is just across the street from the LDS chapel according to this map, and a local resident, Donald Davis, is quoted as saying, “Right across the street is a church...It’s demolished. It’s flattened.”
The only church across the street from Joplin High School is the LDS chapel. The LDS Church has now officially confirmed that the stake center was destroyed by the tornado, but that all missionaries in the affected area are safe and accounted for.
A graphic showing the path of the tornado is now available HERE.
Update: An individual has just posted a comment containing a link which shows that the chapel, which also served as the stake center, has been destroyed. This is further confirmed by a discussion thread on Babycenter. I've also just discovered that there is a Community of Christ chapel located at 1212 Goetz Blvd in Joplin; it's now been confirmed that it was far enough north of the tornado's path that it escaped damage. The Community of Christ (formerly RLDS) evolved separately from the LDS Church; the common ancestry makes them of interest in this story.
|The remains of the Joplin LDS Stake Center|
From a CNN iReport:
From another CNN iReport: Here are some resources which initially showed the extent and severity of the destruction. As of 4:50 P.M. on May 24th, the death toll has now reached 122, with 750 people injured and an estimated 8,000 structures damaged or destroyed. The National Weather Service has upgraded the tornado to an F5, with winds in excess of 200 mph. -- Interactive map of tornado damage HERE. -- Springfield News-Leader initial timeline of events HERE. -- Springfield News-Leader gallery of 68 initial photos HERE. -- Springfield News-Leader gallery of 43 aftermath photos available HERE. -- CNN Live Blog: Tornado kills 89 in Joplin, Missouri, updated periodically -- List of damaged buildings available HERE, but is frequently overloaded Just found this video that provides an aerial tour of Joplin after the tornado. The chopper is flying from west to east. At about the 1:20 point, they approach the large Joplin High School complex. Directly across the street is the remains of the stake center. They fly over the stake center, and you can see the blacktop parking lot behind it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWNwZ1IY2p0 ABC video: Local media sources to monitor include KY3.com, the Springfield News-Leader, and KOLR Channel 10. Those who wish to help with the recovery can consult the KY3.com website for instructions.