Before and after photos of Joplin, Mo., have been floating around the Internet since the tornado swept through on Sunday — and one of the more striking comparisons is attributed to Aaron Fuhrman. We reached out to him and he shared several more photos, as well as his story. Combined with screen grabs from Google street view, these interactive images show just how devastating the damage has been.
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"My wife, Amy, and I own and operate a sign business together in New Florence, Mo.," Fuhrman writes in an email. "We were experiencing severe weather in our area Sunday evening and watching The Weather Channel. It was when the reporter broke down on air that I told Amy I felt like I needed to go and photograph the damage.
"We left at midnight and traveled four hours to Joplin. ... As the sun came up we moved down East 24th St. towards the High School. The landscape looked as if a giant lawnmower and run through the area. ... What struck me at this point was the contrast of a beautiful sunrise over total destruction. After that it was the realization that I should not be able to see the sun on the horizon from that vantage point. We could see damage where we were standing to the horizon and knew there was damage behind us for some distance as well. ...
"I have received messages from people who have seen my photos. Many have thanked me for providing the images to help them realize the impact this tornado has had on Joplin. Others have asked about the area or specific homes because they are looking for loved ones.
"Today has been an emotional day for me. Up to this point I have been interviewed several times and returning phone calls and emails. Today has ... allowed me to reflect on the damage and the lives involved. I have watched or read some of my interviews and have been brought to tears by that. My heart goes out to the residents of Joplin!"
Another interactive image gives a bird's-eye perspective of the area around Joplin High School — or what remains of it. View It Larger.