Joplin, Missouri: One Year Later
On May 22, 2011 the lives and landscape of an entire community were changed forever. “I will never forget the color of the sky that evening as my family and I stood outside our Springfield home and looked to the west. It was multi-colored reds and oranges, as if the sky were burning” said then Red Cross Volunteer, Nigel Holderby. The devastation left in the path of that storm would cause it to be known as one of the deadliest EF-5 tornados in history.
The Red Cross response to Joplin was one of enormous magnitude. The shelter alone would serve as the only home for hundreds of people for over a month. The meals served and the assistance provided to the affected communities would cost millions of dollars. The outreach from neighbors would show the country what a helping hand was all about as the donations poured in and people were given hope.
Almost one year later, the Red Cross is still a vital part of the community in Joplin as it continues the mission to alleviate human suffering. Along with the daily preparedness for the community in the form of CPR/First Aid classes and response to house fires, the Red Cross continues to support the Long Term Recovery Center in Joplin with caseworkers.
Currently there are over 2000 active cases and the needs are as diverse as the families. Needs such as; ongoing medical issues, construction repairs to damaged roofs, replacing cabinets, windows and heating and air-conditioning units. Though the needs have been many, the progress is becoming visible. Over 500 families were in FEMA housing units after the storm. That number is now below 300 and still shrinking.
The people of Joplin, Missouri show a resilience that is remarkable. During the American Red Cross Everyday Heroes Event this past March I saw this resiliency in the faces of those heroes being honored. The people of the community giving of themselves for their neighbor in need, when indeed they were in need themselves. Each one of them proclaiming that a hero they were not, but just an ordinary person who knew that to help others was their purpose that day and during the days that followed.
The City of Joplin will be remembering those who lost their lives last year and celebrating the recovery of the city and community with a “Day of Unity” on May 22, 2012. More information can be found at http://www.joplintornadoanniversary.com/ .
The Red Cross will take part in the events of the day, alongside many of our partner agencies, by providing a hydration station for those walking in the Walk of Unity. The walk will begin at 20th and Duquesne and take you through the disaster area and conclude at Cunningham Park. You will also find Red Cross Volunteers at Sam’s Club from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm with an informational booth on safety and disaster preparedness.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.