At 3:37 P.M., The New York Times' Brian Stelter Published The Best Piece Anyone Will Write About Joplin

Brian Stelter

Brian Stelter Tumbelog

Brian Stelter was in Joplin, MO covering the tornadoes.He returned and published an incredible first-person account of his trials.

Read it.

I’m going to write this in a stream of consciousness, the same way I experienced Joplin.

It was my first time covering — more accurately, trying to cover — a disaster. The National desk knows I am a weather geek, so I came close to covering the tornadoes in North Carolina in April, and then the tornadoes in Alabama earlier this month. But the timing wasn’t right.

This time, it was. I was awake at 2 a.m. for a 6 a.m. ET flight to Chicago on Monday morning, just 12 hours after the tornado struck in Joplin. While in the air, I wondered if I should volunteer to go there. When I landed, I looked at the departure board and saw that a flight was leaving for Kansas City in 45 minutes. On a whim, I walk-ran to the gate and asked if I could buy a standby ticket. The agent said yes.

Two calls to New York later, I booked the 8 a.m. CT flight. I told the National desk that I’d be in Joplin at noon local time. I had no maps, no instructions, no boots. I had a notebook but no pen.

What I learned: always carry extra pens.

It just gets more poignant. 

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