A year ago today, the city of Joplin, Missouri changed. The May 22 tornado not only brought a community together to rebuild and recover, but a nation. Volunteers and donations were sent to Joplin from around the nation and from around the world. Today is a day of remembrance and reflection. Take a few moments to remember those who were lost and reflect on the lessons and triumphs of the last year.
Each individual was affected by the tornado differently. Some lost friends and relatives, other lost their home, and many endured being relocated as their school is being rebuilt. Personally, my former Spanish professor from Missouri Southern State University, Jose Alvarez, lost his life in the storm. He was one of 161 killed that evening. Today we remember them all as Joplin Remembers, Rejoices, and Rebuilds.
Ma De Lourdes Alverez-Torres
Robert M. Baker
Robert E. Bateson
Lathe E. Bradford
Leo E. Brown
Hugh Odell Buttram
Moises N. Carmona
Lois A. Comfort
Keenan K. Conger
James V. “Jim” Cookerly
Randy Edward England
Mark L. Farmer
Betty Joe Fisher
Rick E. Fox
Paul E. Haddock
Caley Lantz Hare
Judy R. Head
Kenneth J. Henson
Russell T. Howard
Wendy A. Istas
Dorothy M. Johnston
Cheryl L. Jones
Billie Sue Little
Nancy A. Martin
Jesse L. McKee
Ladonna S. McPurdy
Angelina A. Menapace
Ronald D. Meyer
Lorna K. Miller
Ray Donald Miller
Suzanne M. Mock
Doris M. Montgomery
Edith L. Moore
Georgia N. Mulkey
James Benjamin John Peterson
Lorretta L. Randell
Virgil T. Reid
Margaret E. Rowe
Judy L. Smith
Lois L. Sparks
Jefferson (Jeff) Taylor
John R. Thomas, Jr.
Margaret A. Tutt
Michael E. Tyndall
Joshua D. Vanderhoofen
Martha Jane Webb
Miles D. Wells
On May 22, it will have been one year since the EF-5 tornado that killed 160 people struck Joplin, Missouri. The city is well on its way to recovery as businesses and homes continue to be rebuilt. Over the next several day, Joplin will honor those who died as a result of the storm and look forward to a bright future. The events are too numerous to list here, including a speech from the President at Joplin High School’s 2012 commencement ceremony on Monday. However, there is a website with all the relevant events and fundraisers running from today through the end of next week.
Over the past year, Joplin has been the recipient of the kindness of thousands of volunteers. Many of the events of the next week are to thank them as well. I went home to Joplin in December and was struck by the destruction, but what struck me most was the determination of the citizens of Joplin to rebuild and the outpouring of support the city has received. I wish I could be there for these upcoming events. May 22 will truly be “1 Day of Unity” in Joplin.
From Google Maps - Clearly Show the Path of the Tornado
Over my Christmas break, I was able to go home to Missiouri for three weeks. This was my first time back in Missouri since Christmas 2010, and my first time to see Joplin since the May 22, 2011 tornado. The first thing I did when I arrived was drive through Joplin. I did not even go home first! I had to see what had happened to the city I knew so well. I was very surprised by what I saw. The debris had been removed and the rebuilding process was well on its way. Down every street there were new houses, reopened businesses and busy construction workers. It was a far cry from the images and live video I watched last May. It was great to see how the community had come together to clean-up and rebuild.
What is most shocking when visiting Joplin is the clear path of the tornado through town. Despite the rebuilding, the absence of trees and houses down most streets between 26th and 14th Streets is eerie. While in Joplin, I visited a number of the familiar sites: Joplin High School, which is currently being torn down, St. John’s Hospital, which is now being torn down, and the homes built by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (you can watch the Joplin episode here). I visited Cunningham Park and the memorials that have built within the park remember those who died and those who volunteered to clean-up the city.
I took a number of pictures and some of them are in the slide show at the bottom of this post. However, the two images below, I think, are the most important because they best illustrate the devastation. The fist image is from Google Street view showing 20th Street before the tornado. The second image I took looking down 20th Street on January 2, 2012. The difference is astounding.
20th Street from Google Street View
20th Street Today
What was most rewarding about visting Joplin was to see first hand that Joplin is recovering. Everyday there is news of businesses reopening and families returning to new homes. Joplin is not done rebuilding, but after visiting Joplin myself, I am happy to report that the city is well on its way to recovery.
UPDATE: Be sure to read the comment below from one of the volunteers who helped construct the playground equipment pictured in Cunningham Park. He also included a link to a behind-the-scenes video of the construction of this equipment. It is volunteers like him who have helped ensure Joplin’s recovery.
Joplin held a memorial service this past Tuesday, the six month anniversary of the May 22 deadly tornado, to honor those who died. The tornado destroyed one third of the city and killed 161 people. The memorial service dedicated a plaque, listing all those killed, and a memorial fountain in Cunningham Park. Speakers for the event included Joplin Mayer Mike Woolston and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. Both speakers praised Joplin’s ability to overcome the tragedy and move forward with the rebuilding process.
The city is well on its way to recovery. Many of the business effected by the storm have either relocated, rebuilt, or are in the process of rebuilding. Families effected have also began the rebuilding process. Homes have been rebuilt, including ten homes by Habitat for Humanity and seven homes by ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Joplin has benefited from the services of many volunteers who have cleanup the city and helped in the construction of these seventeen homes. The city is a shining of example of what a community can accomplish when it works together. I will be going home to Missouri over Christmas break and plan to spend a day in Joplin and visit the memorials erected in Cunningham Park. I spent many years in Joplin at Missouri Southern State University and have family there. My ties to Joplin are strong and I am looking forward to returning, if only for a brief visit.
Source: Springfield News Leader
Three months after being hit by an EF-5 tornado, the city of Joplin continues to rebuild. Businesses and homeowners alike are working to put their livelihood back together. Some businesses have even completely rebuilt. Yesterday, Walgreens on the corner of Rangeline and 20th Street reopened after being completely destroyed by the tornado. The store had to be rebuilt completely from the foundation up, and after only 90 days, the store has reopened.
Meanwhile, Joplin’s kids have returned to normal when they went back to school last Wednesday. Several of Joplin’s schools had to be repaired, students reshuffled between various buildings, and the Juniors and Seniors are attending class at a temporary location inside North Park Mall. Joplin’s superintendant of schools C.J. Huff is being hailed as a hero for his quick thinking and ability to keep the school year on schedule.
The city of Joplin has come together to rebuild to move forward following the devastation. The citizens continue to work together after three months of recovery, and there is still work to be done.
Volunteers work to cleanup a Joplin neighborhood
When the Corps of Engineers arrived in Joplin to lead the clean-up effort following the May 22 tornado, they knew that had a limited amount of time to accomplish the task. With over 30% of the city destroyed, the task of cleaning up seemed daunting, but the volunteers came out in droves. In May, August 7 was set as the deadline to have the 1.5 million cubic yards of debris cleared. Yesterday, local TV stations KSN and KODE toured Joplin from the air and shot some amazing footage (click the source below to watch the video). When yesterday’s video is compared to that of May 22, the difference is staggering. Colonel Daniel Patton is in charge of the Army Corps of Engineer office in Joplin, and he reports that the debris will be completely removed by tomorrow’s deadline. He gives all the credit to his crew, local contractors, and the thousands of volunteers who have flocked to Joplin to lend a hand. These crews have worked 12 hours per day, seven days per week since May 22. Now, 79 days later, the end is only 24 hours away.
Although debris removal will be completed sometime tomorrow, the Army Corps of Engineers will not leave Joplin. Their next task is to assist the rebuilding of local schools and the construction of temporary housing for those who lost their homes.
Now that the task of debris removal is complete, the rebuilding can become the focus of the city. Several of the local business, including Walmart, Walgreens, and Home Depot, have already began their rebuilding process and hope to reopen by the end of this year.
It amazes me how residents, local businesses, and volunteers from around the country have come together to rebuild the city of Joplin.
Coca-Cola’s Live Positively program is currently giving away grants to parks around the country. There are many parks in the running, but only the top three get grants. First place gets $100,000, second place gets $50,000 and third places receives $25,000. One of the parks destroyed by the Joplin tornado, Cunningham Park, is in the running. As of July 29, the park sits third in votes! While $25,000 would go a long way, this would be a big boost to the people of Joplin. Please click the link below and vote for Cunningham Park in Joplin, MO.
Cunningham Park following the May 22 tornado