Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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As you look through the below Joplin, MO tornado damage pictures be aware that Joplin, MO, was struck by an EF-5 tornado (the most powerful category of tornado, based on the Enhanced Fujita System) on May 22nd, 2011. It caused a loss of life and devastation on a scale rarely seen in the United States.

We have assembled some before and after photographs of the most stricken areas. These pictures of the destruction in Joplin communicates the destructive and dangerous nature of tornadoes better than any words we could offer, and why it’s so important to have adequate home insurance.

Look at the below photos of the Joplin tornado damage and then take action by first donating to the American Red Cross and then by making sure that you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage on your home.

These two videos offer us both a perspective on what it was like for Joplin’s 50,000 residents during the tornado, and the destructive force they had to survive. The twenty people in this gas station were forced to hide inside the gas station’s cooler, which was nearly ripped away. They crawled out of the wreckage twelve hours later.

The final death toll, once the missing had been accounted for, was 138 people, out of Joplin’s 50,150 permanent residents.

With all the destruction, many were amazed that the death toll was not higher, but are grateful so many were spared from such a terrible storm.

The amount of rubble created by the Joplin tornado would fill a football field … and fill it to a mile high.

It is estimated that full clean-up of the Joplin area will require dozens of work crews working around the clock for at least three months, possibly more.

A rare blessing amid the devastation: although 1,300 people were at first unaccounted for, emergency services quickly located and reunited families and friends.

By the end of the first day after the tornado, most of the missing had been located and emergency services could go to work rescuing survivors in the wreckage.

Six people were killed at Joplin’s main hospital, which was directly in the path of the tornado.

Five were patients on life support who were killed when a backup generator failed. The sixth was a visitor to the hospital.

This is what remains of Joplin’s high school. Fortunately, the high school graduation was being held three miles away and ended shortly before the storm started, giving everyone time to get to safety and avoid the main path of the tornado.

Despite the fact that most of Joplin’s population escaped the tornado with only damage to their property, the Joplin tornado is still the eighth deadliest tornado in American history. It is estimated that between twenty and twenty-five percent of Joplin has been totally destroyed.

The Joplin tornado is the first tornado since 1953 (that tornado struck in Flint, MI) to have 100 or more fatalities, which offers a sense of just how sad, and unexpected, the Joplin tragedy truly is.

To find a tornado as destructive in American history requires going back more than a century to an entire system of storms that struck the Midwest in 1897.

Nearly 2000 buildings were destroyed by the tornado, including this church.

However, many in the area, especially the church’s congregation, were heartened to discover that though the building had been destroyed, St. Mary’s cross has remained unbowed by the tornado.

One man, Christopher Lucas, manager of a Pizza Hut, chose to rescue 19 people by placing them in the store’s walk-in freezer.

Since the door would not shut from the inside, a common security feature on walk-in freezers, Lucas used a bungie cord to secure the door from the outside. Lucas was killed by the tornado: all 19 people inside survived.

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An alternate view of Joplin’s main hospital. The “X” on the car means that it has been examined for human remains, and none have been discovered. Many are surprised, after being subjected to the sheer brute force of the storm and being directly in its path, that the hospital is still standing.

The tornado, at its most intense, was nearly a mile wide, sweeping a path of destruction directly through one of Joplin’s main commercial areas. Many structures were completely flattened by the tornado. Others, such as this mini mall, were more fortunate.

This is Joplin’s Wal-Mart SuperCenter, one of the biggest buildings in Joplin. This Wal-Mart and the surrounding area were among the hardest hit by the storm: this is where the strength was most intense, and it destroyed many structures completely.

Amazingly, although this Home Depot’s walls were almost completely flattened, as visible in the picture, the shelves of the store largely remained standing, an extremely surreal sight for rescue workers and volunteers combing the wreckage for survivors.

This was formerly an apartment complex that housed over 100 people. The tornado was so powerful that it threw objects — such as large trucks and concrete barriers — up to one-eighth of a mile away.

These flying objects wound up causing even more damage: part of the reason so many buildings were leveled by the storm is that it threw dozens of heavy objects into walls.

Any dollar figures you hear about the total damage are completely premature: financial assessments will have to include property and assets that were uninsured, too.

It is predicted, however, that the damage to insured assets alone will total at least $1 billion, possibly as much as $3 billion. With uninsured assets, that could run as high as $5 billion or more.

If these pictures make you feel overwhelmed in the face of the Joplin tragedy, know that you’re not alone and that you can help.

Even if you’re thousands of miles away, you can contact the United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas; while currently they are backlogged with offers of donations and help, no donation is too small and they need any type of help they can get. Involve others in your community, too.

All of us at have Joplin in our thoughts as we move forward. We can come together behind Joplin and bring it back, but it will take every one of us.