There have been five tornadoes in Blaine County in the past 100 years and no one was hurt in any of them.
Only people who have been in the Mid-west, not just Blaine County, in the spring really understand how scary and how devastating tornadoes can be.
Throughout the central part of the country, known as Tornado Alley, big storms are a "normal" part of life. There are, after all, a thousand tornadoes each year in the U.S. But when the warning sirens go off, as they did in both Alabama and Missouri, and the sky turns a particularly ominous greenish-gray, people quickly seek the best shelter they can find.
Even knowing what to do, more than 480 people have been killed in the past week and many more are still missing.
As terrible as this has been, there are some positives to report from the disaster scene. Two organizations arrived early to provide support for those whose lives have been shattered.
The first was the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Both the Clinton and Obama administrations put professionals in charge of this important agency to make it able to move quickly and effectively. This is a far different and far better story than the incompetence of the agency during the Hurricane Katrina disaster during the Bush administration.
The city manager of Joplin has been effusive in his praise of FEMA and how quickly it has been able to provide services to those in obvious need.
However, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said, "FEMA is only part of our nation's emergency management team. By partnering with the American Red Cross, we will be able to coordinate care services more effectively and efficiently."
The Red Cross has the ability to produce volunteers who are well-trained, experienced and willing to pick up and go immediately to wherever they're needed.
FEMA, which is funded by taxes, is doing its part. The Red Cross is a charitable organization that lives or dies based on donations, big and small, from ordinary citizens living ordinary lives.
We can do more than just feel bad for the families of Joplin. What we can do is make a contribution. Do not send stuff; the need is for cash sent to the Red Cross, whose workers are able to get people exactly what is needed when it is needed.