Photos below reveal the extent of the deadliest single tornado in more than 60 years. The 198 mph tornado tore a path a mile wide and six miles long straight through Joplin, Missouri on May 23 2011.
The way things used to be: This Google Street Map view shows the same place as the picture below, before the tornado struck.
The Butterfly People (Source)
I heard a story today from a friend of mine who volunteered to help rebuild houses in Joplin, Missouri, about the “Butterfly People” who were seen by children during the storm. These children said that these people saved their lives.
I was interested in what my friend said, so I went online and Googled “Butterfly People”. Take a look at some of these stories… and have kleenex handy!
The stories about butterfly people coursed through Joplin, passing one by one and then by the many, tales describing what children reported seeing on that Sunday night in May as the tornado bore down. The children said the butterfly people protected them. These stories, tales of guardian angels, could be dismissed as a child’s fanciful imagination. But the stories have taken hold here. And as the months have slipped by, the adrenaline fading along with some of the terror, the stories have assumed a new, maybe even more important role. To understand why, you have to understand what this town of 50,000 went through — and what it still faces. The tornado killed 161 people. It shredded entire neighborhoods. More than 900 homes were lost. Big box stores collapsed. The destruction was complete, the landscape rendered foreign. The tornado unleashed stories about death and unlikely survival: A teenager sucked from an SUV, a toddler plucked from his mother’s arms, houses that exploded in 200-mph winds as families huddled in bathtubs and closets. For months, just about any place people gathered, the stories spilled out, including stories about the butterfly people. Read more: www.stltoday.com…
My favorite story is of a 2 ½-year-old little girl who with her father was caught in the tornado in their vehicle. Afterward, when she was encouraged to tell of her experience (the point being to keep children from internalizing the moment and becoming fearful and developing long-term anxiety), she told this amazing story: She said she and her dad and the “butterfly people” were in the car and…At this point she was interrupted and told that only she and her daddy were in the car. But she insisted: “No, Daddy” There were butterfly people in the car with us!” Is that not awesome?! This small child would not have known what an angel was or how to describe one, but she knew about butterflies! It was adequate to describe a miracle!
A young boy and his father were also in their vehicle and were being tossed wildly in the wind when suddenly the father looked up to see another car flying toward them. The little boy was the one who saw two very BIG angels holding the other car back. Their car was never hit by the flying car. The boy continued to say it was the BIG angels that held the other car back. Only the child saw the angels, but the father witnessed the miracle!
Another incredible story is told by a deputy sheriff who, immediately following the storm spotted a little 4-year-old boy in an open field east of Joplin. The deputy ran to get him and found there was not a scratch on him! He asked, and the little boy told him his name and where he lived-which was in west Joplin, out by the St John’s hospital that took a big hit. The deputy asked how he got there to the field. The boy replied: “The angels brought me and set me down here.” The distance was more than six miles from where he was picked up!
There is another story of a mom and her young daughter who were in their vehicle when they saw the tornado coming toward them. They got out of the car and jumped in a ditch, the mom covering her little girl. When the tornado passed, they got up from the ditch and the mom asked her daughter “are you okay?” to which the little girl replied “oh yes, weren’t they beautiful?!” The mom asked her what she was talking about and the girl replied “didn’t you see how beautiful their wings were!” The angels were surrounding them in the middle of the tornado and the child saw the beautifully colored angel wings! Mom did not see them but knew that somehow, they had been protected.
Pastor Wermuth also told of a church across from the Joplin High School where people had gathered early for the evening service. They were told to get to the basement quickly. (There was one casualty in that location.) All four walls of the church fell to the basement, trapping the people underneath the rubble. Six large men arrived and lifted the four walls up, allowing the survivors to climb out. When rescue squads arrived and inquired how they got out, everyone had the same report: Six big men lifted the walls up and allowed them to climb out. And when everyone was out, they walked away, saying they had to go dig others out. All were very descriptive and emphatic about the six large men-all telling the same story the same way to the rescuers. The rescuers in disbelief explained, there is no way 6 men can lift all 4 of these walls.
- Powerful new video of the Joplin, Missouri tornado (grayflannelsuit.net)
- Joplin tornado toll rises to 141 (cnn.com)
- Missouri Tornado Satellite Photo: Aerial Image Shows Extent Of Destruction In Joplin (huffingtonpost.com)
- Joplin, Missouri Tornado Video: ‘The Trees Are Debarked’ (huffingtonpost.com)