Monthly Archives: June 2016

How to Help Joplin Tornado Survivors

The devastating videos and photos of the tornado in Joplin, Mo., on May 22 — the deadliest in the United States in nearly 60 years — have left many Americans wondering how they can help the city’s citizens begin to recover from the destruction.

One thing you can do: Consider making a donation to the work being done in Joplin by AmeriCares, a non-profit emergency aid organization that provides crucial medical supplies, medicine, and other aid to emergency situations around the world and here in the United States.

AmeriCares is working with clinic partners, shelters and health care providers in Joplin and nearby Springfield. “The first 48 hours of an emergency are the most critical,” AmeriCares Vice President of Emergency Response, Ella Gudwin, said in a statement on their Web site. “AmeriCares pre-positions emergency relief supplies so we are ready to respond to disasters around the world and across the United States at a moment’s notice.”

AmeriCares, with which Everyday Health is partnering to support relief efforts in Japan and other health causes, has a disaster relief expert, Jessica Ginger, already on the ground in Joplin assessing emergency aid needs in the city of 49,000, which needs all the help it can get.

A state of emergency has been declared in Joplin, the Missouri National Guard is on the scene, and 40 agencies from four states have responded, according to AmeriCares.

The tornado, which was given the highest twister rating of EF5, has killed 122 people so far and left hundreds injured and homeless, according to city officials. About 1,500 people are still missing, and officials are afraid the death toll will increase as “the full scope of the destruction comes into view: house after house reduced to slabs, cars crushed like soda cans, shaken residents roaming streets in search of missing family members,” according to

The storm demolished Joplin’s high school and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and buildings, including the area’s major hospital, St. John’s Regional Medical Center, which had to be completely evacuated. The tornado left the building with shattered windows, crumbled walls, displaced patients, and medical records that were spotted as far as two counties away.

One of AmeriCares’ partner clinics, Community Clinic of Joplin, is now housing the clinic’s own director, whose home a few blocks down the street from the hospital was completely flattened. By day, she helps deliver medical needs to patients who were displaced from the hospital; by night, she sleeps in the clinic.

The first order of business for AmeriCares in the aftermath of the Joplin tornado is assessing the need for medical and relief supplies, including water — “we already have 62,000 bottles on hold and ready to distribute,” according to Gudwin — and medicines, blankets, hospital supplies, and nutritional supplements. “Chronic care medications, pain relievers and antibiotics are in short supply and have been identified as urgent needs,” Ginger wrote on the AmeriCares blog.

Top Ranking Place for Healthy Living

images-2Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city’s high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).

Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.

Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI’s top five slots are the following cities:

  • Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8
  • Boston, with a score of 69.1
  • Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7
  • Denver, with a score of 67.6

At the opposite end of the index, Memphis, Tenn., Louisville, Ken. and Oklahoma City ranked lowest. The cities received scores of 32.9, 29 and 24.6, respectively.

Still, the report noted that whether they landed at the top of the list or at the bottom, each city had its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to health and fitness.

“The scores and rankings from the report indicate which metro areas are more fit, and which ones are less fit,” Walter Thompson, chair of the AFI advisory board, said in an ACSM news release. “Although Minneapolis ranked first, there is room for improvement. At the same time, even the lowest-ranked areas have healthy residents and community resources supporting health and fitness.”

Thompson added the report should serve as either a needed wake-up call or a source of positive re-enforcement for city leaders.

“A regular, scientific evaluation of the infrastructure, community assets, policies and opportunities which encourage healthy and fit lifestyles is imperative for cities wishing to provide a high quality of life for residents,” Thompson said. “Community health leaders and advocates in each metro area can use the AFI data report to easily identify their strengths and areas of opportunity.”