There is so much debris, so much devastation, so much nothing in the path of the tornado that moved through Joplin on Sunday night. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds.


One of the most common questions prompted by the scene was the same for residents, first responders, reporters and others: Where do we start?


That question is different for every person in whatever role they serve in the aftermath of one of the most deadly tornadoes in history.


      
There is so much debris, so much devastation, so much nothing in the path of the tornado that moved through Joplin on Sunday night. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sights and sounds.

One of the most common questions prompted by the scene was the same for residents, first responders, reporters and others: Where do we start?

That question is different for every person in whatever role they serve in the aftermath of one of the most deadly tornadoes in history.

But there's another question that everyone will have to ask themselves as rescue turns to recovery in these coming days and weeks, months and years: Where did we start after the storm hit?

It is a question in and of the moment.

What happened to people when reaction ended and action began?
What happened is the moment revealed people.

There were countless situations of neighbors helping neighbors in the immediate aftermath of the tornado.

People checked on their friends to see what they needed. People called their relatives to make sure they were OK.

There are numerous heartwarming stories about how complete strangers came to help out, then left.

That is the mark of character that we should all have, a selflessness and a dedication to each other.
It is a sense of community that tragedy of a grand scale brings out in almost all of us.

But not all of us. Morning Sun reporters have confirmed that a number of looters came and went like a second round of storms, taking whatever merchandise and materials that the tornado did not take.

There is no excuse, no potential justification for looting.
When people are dying and injured and crying and scared, selfishness of this scale is shameful. More than shameful, it is disgusting.

Where did people start after the tornado? Often at opposite ends of the spectrum.
But just because we have the answer to one question doesn't mean it's over.
When the days and weeks, months and years have passed, the question will not be where did we start, but where did we finish.
   

Andrew Nash writes for the Morning Sun in Pittsburg, MO.