Tornado teaches Joplin children lessons in life

JOPLIN, Mo. - Usually in times of turmoil, kids find safety in the sanctuary of school. But in Joplin, that is no longer an option.

On a chilly, gray evening Margaret Tripp showed her two grandsons the place where she and their grandpa almost lost their lives, reports CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

"I wanted them to remember this," said Tripp. "This was tragic, This is going to mess with people's lives."

But for thousands of Joplin children who lived through the killer storm, it's a history lesson that hits too close to home.

"There's no way it cannot affect the children for a long way to come," said Dr. Sean Smith of St. John's Regional Medical Center. "This is a life altering event. This is something that war survivors, holocaust survivors see."

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Heather Copeland, 15, lost her home on Sunday, taking away a lesson in life.

"Nobody's promised tomorrow," said Copeland. "So you just need to treasure every moment you have and people you're with."

But just a stone's throw from the death and destruction there are smiles and signs of life.

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"Life needs to go back to normal. Kids being out in that rubble, that's not normal. Right here, that's normal," said Cookie Estrada from the YMCA.

Estrada runs the YMCA, which is now offering a safe haven for kids while their parents deal with devastating reality.

They're making lists for the insurance company, to give us back stuff like that," said one young victim.

Five-year-old Ethan Bard's dad, Josh, has been fighting to protect his son physically and emotionally.

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"I prefer he not even see it," said Josh Bard.

But little Ethan knows very well what happened there.

"All the houses and the buildings were tore down," said Ethan Bard.

Fifth grader Austin Ideker's family lost everything they owned.

"Everything that I worked for, like you know how have an allowance," said Ideker. "I worked so hard to get my my video games and they are all gone."

Four of ten city schools were destroyed. The cost to rebuild: $100 million dollars, even so the superintendent vows he was have schools opened as planned on August 11.

  • Cynthia Bowers

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