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    Posted May 22, 2013 by
    Joplin, Missouri
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Joplin's messages for Moore

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    Two Years Later


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Jennifer Parr of Joplin, Missouri, says that seeing footage of Moore takes her right back to May 22, 2011, the day of an EF5 tornado hit Joplin. 'I can still feel the shock, the awe, the sadness. I can still remember the smell too. It smelled like freshly cut wood,' she said. Parr stayed in Joplin because she says didn’t have a choice – her family is there and she was working on her college education.

    She offered the following advice for the people of Moore: 'Take it one day at a time. Right now it feels impossible to start picking up the pieces, not knowing where to even start. Let others help you, even when you think you don't NEED the help. Get yourself situated -- find a place to have a roof over your head and to have meals to nourish your body. Don't forget to eat and hydrate yourself! Grieve your loss, but don't let it consume you. And finally, once you have grieved, look ahead at what WILL be and not behind and what HAS been.'

    Her photos show old house in Joplin just an hour after the tornado, as well as a couple of photos of her and her dog, Lulu, shot this week at her new Joplin home. The fourth image shows Lulu in front of where their old home used to be, down the street from St. John’s Regional Medical Center.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    May 22, 2011 turned my world upside down. I found myself instantly homeless and not knowing how to pick up the pieces. The destruction was incomprehensible. Shock and adrenaline took over for the first few days. But then it was time to figure out how to start picking up the pieces and moving forward.

    Two years later, I am finally in a new home (with a basement!) in Joplin after having to stay with family for over a year after the tornado.I started a home business as well as recently graduating college. In order to make it through these past two years, I really had to focus on the future and not dwell on what happened two years ago. It's not always been easy, but it was the best thing to do in order to not let the past hinder my future.

    As tragic and devastating as this event was, it helped me find my true inner strength to persevere during a time when things felt impossible. It restored my faith in humanity to see how my community came together to help each other when ALL of us were in need. It was also overwhelming to see the outpouring of caring and kindness that came from all over the world to help our city.

    My advice to those in Moore, Oklahoma who are enduring their recent tragic event is to take it one day at a time. Accept the help of others, get yourself situated, take your time to grieve, and then focus on doing what you need to do to get your life back on track and focus on what WILL be in the future instead of what HAS been in the past. With what feels impossible right now, know that it IS possible to achieve. Keep your faith and know that you have your entire country standing behind you to help you get back to some sort of normalcy.

    My first photo is what I came home to about an hour and a half after the tornado. The second two photos were what the inside looked like that night. My fourth photo is my dog Lulu sitting in the middle of the street, in front of where our house used to be (you can see St. Johns hospital in the background). The fifth photo is my new home and the last photo is me and my Lulu sitting on the porch of our new home.
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