No Man’s Land

**I did not write this, Bruce Lauderdale did, but I don’t want to forget this writing either, so if you don’t want to read, don’t feel like you have to!  This is just for me to always remember!**

Every time I drive into No-Man’s land here in Joplin my one overwhelming, inescapable feeling/emotion is “There’s only 117/128/141/151/153 dead?”  This monster didn’t care what it ran into.  It tore a 3/8-1 mile wide swath 10 miles long clear through the …heart of town.  Within that zone 8000+ homes of all types were destroyed.  I don’t know how many places I’ve stood, spun 360 degrees, and can’t see a single undamaged structure… and I shake my head.  It wrapped the frame of a bobtail truck around a tree, blew a rubber garden hose clear through a tree trunk, twisted a 9 story hospital on its foundation, pried up manhole covers, then, when it got bored with that, started sucking asphalt pavement off the ground.  “Where were you?”  is all you have to ask to get stories, stories of being in Home Depot as the roof left; of rolling down the street in a car, hiding under the dash; of sitting in a concrete safe room, behind a steel door with four latches while the house vanished; and of feeling a house around four adults and two kids walk, one step at a time completely off its foundation.    And yet we only have 153 dead??  No mistake, each one of those deaths is a tragedy and the total will probably still grow but we should be burying thousands, not less than two hundred.  By all rights we should be dozing trenches, filling them with fifty unidentified, mangled dead, and then going to the next trench.