Updated: Used my BOB in Joplin, MO after Tornado.
So my best friend (more like a brother) lives in Joplin, Mo. with his wife and two sons age 10 & 7. His wife is a veterinarian and he is the online internet guru for a newspaper conglomerate which owns about 150 newspapers nation wide. Joplin is about 2 1/2 hours south/west of me, and we both live in what's known as tornado alley.
I didn't find out about the tornado until about 4 hours after it hit when I turned on the TV and started seeing Breaking News. I began trying to contact him to see if he was okay. Calling his home phone got repeated rapid busy signals indicating the phone service had been interrupted. Trying to call his cell phone I got a recorded service message stating there was no service available. I'm naturally assuming a lot of cell towers were down as well as I kept watching news reports unfold.
My wife and I started discussing whether I should go down there having no real intel to act upon and aware that we live in a direct line where the same storms are headed.
After about another half hour, I tried his cell phone again, and on the second ring he answered. I go, "Bro, are you guys okay?" He said, "Dude, I'm in Birmingham, Alabama on a friggon business trip. I'm trying to get the next flight out to get back home."
I asked if the wife and kids were okay. He told me he couldn't get a hold of them for about 2 hours but finally got through on her cell phone. He told me they were shook up but okay. His wife told him they had some serious roof damage to the house, no power, broken windows and their detached garage was damaged as well. I asked if her car was wrecked and he said no, so she had transportation if needed. He also said she didn't have a lot of fuel for their generator.
I asked my wife if she'd be okay here if I went down there. She said no problem. So, I told him I'd be down there in 2 - 2 1/2 hours. He gave me his wife's cell number and I called told her I was gonna come down until Mike got back and bring some supplies with me. I asked her if they had any water stored. She said they didn't lose their water and had good water pressure. I told her not to drink any in case the water supply had been contaminated. I told her I had a water purifier I'd be bringing down to purify as much water as they needed. She told me the guest bedroom had no windows and the bed had gotten soaked and such. I kind of chuckled and said, "Don't worry about me, I'm pretty much self contained."
The nice thing about being prepared is it doesn't take long to mobilize. From the time I got finished with my phone calls, I was on the road in about 20 minutes. I went to garage and got a 5 gallon jerry can of gas I have stored with fuel stabilizer for emergencies. I grabbed two of my 2.5 gallon water jerry cans which has water stabilizer for 5 year storage, and put those in the truck.
My BOB is in a Maxpedition Falcon II backpack which I call my Bag-O-Bark'n instead of a Bug-Out Bag since it covers a few more contingencies than just bugging out. I won't go over all the contents here, but I've posted it in other threads before.
I grabbed the Bag-O-Bark'n, and my Camelbak BFM large backpack which I keep packed with two sets of season specific clothes, shower/hygiene supplies, some MRE's, Mountain House freeze dried meals and various other supplies. I filled the 3 liter bladder and threw those in the truck.
I also grabbed my major trauma kit which is small, but unbelievably comprehensive and able to care for a squad size group of troops and includes tools for suturing, surgical airway and other airway emergencies, chest decompression (pneumothorax), an otoscope, ophthalmoscope, and able to treat burn injuries as well as major bleeding, eye injuries and a dental emergency kit.
At the present time my buddy has no firearms, which is a common sore topic with me as he is not anti-gun. He has owned pistols, rifles and shotguns in the past, but has sold them all over the years for one reason or another. A couple of times he asked to borrow a gun because he was worried about crime in the area. I always tell him I don't loan guns and it's his responsibility to buy his own, and he shouldn't have sold his in the first place.
So, I got in a mini argument with my wife about not loaning any guns, and I told her "Look (honey), this is a major disaster, I'm gonna be armed, and there is a real chance looting could be an issue down there. When I leave to come home, I can't in good conscious bring all my guns home and not leave him with a way to defend his wife and two small kids." I told her I won't leave him any handguns, but I will leave my shotgun. I also told her he was going to get a butt chewing regarding his irresponsibility of leaving his wife without a way to defend herself when he's out of town. This exact disaster is a prime example of why you may not be able to just call 911 and expect anyone to show up, and why any responsible family should have firearms.
So, I grab my Mossberg 590 which has 20 rounds of 00 Buck & slugs loaded in the tube and mounted on the gun in a sidesaddle and Eagle Industries buttstock pouch, my bandoleer of 50 rounds of 00 & #1 Buck and 12 slugs.
For me, my usual XD9sc IWB 10 +1 mag of Speer Gold Dots, two 16 round spare mags with same Gold Dots and Ruger LCP with one spare mag of Hornady Critical Defense .380's. I also grabbed three 20 round boxes of the Gold Dots for the 9mm to throw in my Camelbak BFM just in case. I also brought $200 cash I keep in a small neck wallet I have at home for emergencies.
Again, it only took about 20 minutes to get my truck loaded and on the road. I topped off my fuel tank and grabbed a double cheeseburger from DQ on my way out of town.
A little over 2 1/2 hours later, I was in Joplin. Stopped at an open gas station on the north end of town and topped off my fuel again so I'd have a full gas tank while I was down there. I had to drive through another big storm with major rain and high winds when i was about 30-40 miles north of Joplin but when I stopped to get gas in town it had settled down to a drizzle.
When I got to their house, his wife had stapled tarps over the windows which were broke and the generator was up and running. She said a neighbor had to come over and start it for her and she and the kids went and got some gas and went to check on the vet clinic she works at. No power at the clinic but it wasn't damaged. At home she had the refrigerator plugged in, some lights and the TV. The kids had their wii so they were good to go. She also said they finally issued a boil order so she was glad I brought some water and purifier. I called Mike to let him know I was there. He was at the airport ready to catch his flight back.
So she and the kids went to bed and I surveyed the damage. Not nearly as bad as I expected. Some broken windows, shingles and felt ripped off parts of the roof. Some good size leaks coming through the ceiling in the upstairs. One garage door was caved in and wouldn't open and about the same type of damage to the garage roof. It's a huge two story older house about 60 years old but still standing and in good shape.
Two blocks away however, looked like Hiroshima after the Enola Gay paid a visit. Totally leveled swath a half mile wide and however long the path was. You all have seen the pictures on TV so no need to describe it here. My buddy got in about 1 am. His flight had been delayed, plus a layover, and when coming into Springfield they had some bad weather so they had to fly to Wichita in a big loop and fly in from another direction which added another hour to the flight.
I really didn't use much out of my BOB, but we did use my folding saw to clean up some down tree limbs and his wife used my MIOX water purifier at the vet clinic the next day to purify about 20 gallons of water for the animals. She had a flat tire on her car from her excursion out to get some gas and check out the clinic so we took it and got it fixed. They had power back on by 3 pm on Tuesday afternoon, and some firefighters who were also roofers from Idaho stopped by and offered to tarp his roof which they did.
More storms were headed in including the possibility of more tornado's that night, which had just hit Oklahoma City. The news conference said the line of storms had several super cells and more tornado's were possible. The firefighters left Mike his card and said if the next storm blew the tarps off to just give him a call on his cell phone on Wednesday and he'd come back and fix it again.
Since Mike was back home and things under control I decided to head back home before the second wave of storms hit and I didn't want to be stranded in Joplin. My wife was home alone with the dogs and bad weather was scheduled for my town around 9 pm. I left Mike my gas can, water cans and MIOX water purifier so they could purify until the boil order is lifted. He said he didn't think he'd need the shotgun as all the looting has been limited to area's where there was total devastation and was minimal even in those area's. The police chief at the Tuesday news conference said they've made 12 arrests of looters and keeping it under control. He is going to be getting a shotgun soon and wants to research some pistols. He knew this was a wake-up call regarding his home security situation.
I got home around 8 pm Tuesday night. Around noon Wednesday, we had two tornado's touch down about a 1/2 mile outside of my town before moving through and hitting the middle of Sedalia, Mo. which is about 30 miles from where I live. Sedalia had a lot of damage but not many injuries reported. The Sedalia tornado was only an EF2 whereas Joplin was an EF5.
I didn't partake in any of the big rescue ops in Joplin as I was on more of a personal mission helping a friend out in his time of need.
All in all it's been a busy week as Thursday my wife and I also had to go to Kansas City and meet with my wife's brother to make plans for liquidating their mothers estate who passed away just after mothers day. And now I have to work the entire Memorial Day weekend.
Anyway, the bottom line is it's always good to be prepared for emergencies. You never know when one is going to strike. My prior preparations made things go a lot smoother and having gear pre-packed and organized allowed me to essentially mobilize and drive 180 miles on a moments notice and able to handle whatever I faced.
Update: YouTube audio tape of from Joplin Fire Departments radio transmissions during the Tornado.