Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Joplin, Missouri on the Road to Recovery

One hundred days after a devastating tornado that struck the city on 22 May, Joplin is rising from its wreckage quickly because of a sense of community, according to a USA Today article. The people are willing to help themselves and their neighbors instead of waiting for government to step in and take care of them.

"It would be a lot easier to move back home," says [Eric] Polley, who came to Joplin two years ago from Kentucky. He says he feared more tornadoes and wanted to protect his young daughters, who have become jumpier at hearing thunder.

But Polley, whose house was damaged, decided to stay.

"Too many good things have happened, and I see how people have pulled together to work together," says Polley, who has assisted with disaster recovery in hurricane-stricken towns as a former power company worker.

"There's no comparison," he says. "It's so much different here. There is no whining, no pointing fingers, but people are getting back on their feet...."

Bells for public school classes rang on time on Aug. 17. Two Walgreens stores, one of which was flattened, reopened Aug. 22.

St. Louis-based Mercy Health System will rebuild a hospital by 2014, after its St. John's Regional Medical Center took a direct hit from the twister.

As of Thursday, Joplin had issued 192 residential permits to rebuild and another 2,092 permits for home repair, according to city spokeswoman Lynn Onstot. The city also has issued 73 commercial rebuild permits.

Gerald and Carolyn Keller are rebuilding their Dequesne, Mo., home after it was almost completely destroyed in the May 22 tornado.

Mayor Mike Woolston says he could not be prouder. "Our folks didn't wait for the help to get started," he says, noting governmental assistance was crucial. Yet he credits self-help with the rapid recovery. "It's the way the community responds that sets the tone," Woolston says....

EDITORIAL NOTE: We are careful to say "on the road to recovery," as there is much work left to be done. The city has only recently started to issue permits to replace the many buildings that were destroyed.

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