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Volunteer tells of Joplin, MO tornado damage

8:17 AM, Jun 10, 2011   |    comments
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  • Joplin, Missouri after tornado. (Photo by Kevin VanHorn)
  • Joplin, Missouri after tornado. (Photo by Kevin VanHorn)
  • Joplin, Missouri after tornado. (Photo by Kevin VanHorn)

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- A West Michigan Salvation Army volunteer who spent a week and a half working in the tornado relief effort in Joplin, Missouri, says the city's damage was the worst he's ever seen.

Kevin VanHorn was working with the Salvation Army's Emergency Services Canteen, serving tornado victims and other relief workers in Joplin, which was hit by an EF-5 tornado -- the most powerful kind -- on Sunday, May 22.

"To look at the debris the way it was laid out there, it was so splintered, so chopped up, it literally looked like a meat grinder went through the town," VanHorn told WZZM 13 on Thursday, shortly after arriving home from Missouri.

VanHorn was in one of six Midwest volunteer groups dispatched to distribute food and water.

He says many of the survivors are still grieving the loved ones they lost in the storm -- and are feeling guilty about surviving when 142 people were killed.

"They looking at their houses wondering why they weren't dead," said VanHorn.

The volunteer worker says rebuilding the infrastructure in Joplin could take at least three months -- but might take much longer. But VanHorn says there is undeniably a lot of support for the people in the city.

"The people in Joplin just don't understand why so many people are coming to help them, and it's because we care," said VanHorn.

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