“I started to drive to work this morning – and I drive this route every single morning – and I got completely lost. There weren’t any street signs. There weren’t any landmarks. I finally drove around until I saw what was left of my grocery store and knew where I was.”

“I started to drive to work this morning – and I drive this route every single morning – and I got completely lost. There weren’t any street signs. There weren’t any landmarks. I finally drove around until I saw what was left of my grocery store and knew where I was.”

That was part of a conversation an Examiner staffer had with a relative in Joplin. That relative rode out the storm in his bathtub, came out unscathed and spent the night in pitch dark listening to endless sirens and helicopters. Then he  got up to go to work – at a job that still needs to be done in a city forever changed.

Everyone wants to help Joplin, and there are countless ways to do that. But, please, don’t plan to load the pickup with bottled water and sandwiches and head south. That kind of “I want to be there now” charitable enthusiasm borders on voyeurism. Not even medical or law enforcement professionals just pack a bag and show up.   

Instead, donate to the Red Cross. Donate blood. Buy needed items and give to an organized group that has a plan and a timetable to get Joplin what it needs most when it needs it most. You’ll find many such avenues for making a contribution in The Examiner today and more at our website, examiner.net.

This is such a massive tragedy that the aid needs to be on a similar scale. The young man who recounted his difficulty in finding his workplace said the only meal he got Monday was delivered to his work site by a crew from an Oklahoma casino, where they have huge kitchens and supplies of food. Individual aid is everywhere, the young man said, among the victims. “There’s not a damn thing they can do for themselves, so they’re helping others,” he said of his fellow citizens.