Extraordinary stories of survivors continue to pour out of tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri. The F-5 twister destroyed one third of the city, leaving countless numbers of the city's 49,000 residents. As relief trickles in from around the country--everyone from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Humane Society is helping--people in Joplin continue to search for survivors and begin to cope with the total devastation. The Kansas City Star reports that "hundreds if not thousands" of residents vow not to leave what's left of their homes for the relief shelters being set up in the area. Living under tarps and cooking on outdoor grills, some of these "refusers" worried about looting; the sum of their possessions litters the ground, where debris is several feet deep. "If we leave, we’ll have nothing to come back to,” one woman told the paper.
Much of Joplin still lacks electricity and running water, so the living conditions for the refusers are far from comfortable. Using rain water to flush toilets and plywood to cover blown out windows, those that remain say they want to help with the clean up effort and insist that they can make make due with the tough conditions. "We don’t need power," said Kevan Cole, a father of three whose house is still mostly standing. "Plus, we don’t want to take up shelter space from someone who needs it more than us.” Yesterday, hundreds of residents who had fled after the tornado lined up to get back into the city to recover what they could.