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Heavy Rains Mask Twister's Approach Hinder Rescue

The deadly multi-vortex tornado took a fearsome toll but Joplin remains in harm's way.
By Aryeh Ben Hayim
First Publish: 5/24/2011, 6:33 PM / Last Update: 5/24/2011, 7:43 PM

It what has been a season of national disasters, Joplin, Missouri (population:50,000) was stricken over the weekend when one powerful tornado tore up the town with 180-190 mph winds. Hail the size of baseballs followed the tornado.

Humble businesses, numbering over 100, were wrecked together with a Wallmart and Home Depot. Surpassing the property damage, which counted over 1000 homes, are the 116 dead already counted amidst expectations that the toll will rise, surpassing the Flint Michigan tornado of 1953.

While the south recently sustained 300 fatalities, this was the toll exacted by a series of tornadoes and not by one terrible twister as in the case of Joplin.

The Joplin tornado was multi-vortex, packing two separate tornadoes and their destructiveness into one.

Joplin has a small Jewish community of between 15 to 20 people and some are missing. Habad Rabbi Yehuda Weg piled his vehicle with emergency supplies and traveled down from Oklahoma to help Jews and other victims.

Rescue work is being hampered by torrential rains. These same rains also masked the arrival of the twister, giving people less time to respond.

The weather conditions harbor the danger of new tornadoes, with Joplin included in the danger zone.

Survivors are boiling water as a precautionary measure and water trucks have arrived to service the community.

However, rebuilding plans are already underway and the damaged schools will be able to reopen for the next school year.

President Obama plans to travel to Joplin on Sunday.