Friday, June 24, 2011

One Month After

It has been a little over a month now since a tornado ripped through our city, devastating homes, schools, businesses, and lives. While Joplin is no longer the lead story in the national news (thank goodness!), stories regarding survival and rebuilding prevail in the local media. Thousands of volunteers are still arriving daily to work with those affected by the storm. City government leaders are working tirelessly to combat problems related to relocation, rebuilding, job creation, and debris cleanup. School officials, after developing a plan of action for the near future, are now working feverishly in order to have schools open by the imposed deadline of August 17, 2011. Everyone everywhere is consumed by the overwhelming work produced by the storm that raged through our little city.

Yet, amid all the work and stress there have been moments of relaxation, laughter, and fun which have helped us all move forward along the path toward healing. On June 16 the Downtown Alliance followed through with its regularly scheduled Third Thursday Art Walk, providing participants a respite from the marathon of rebuilding. Last night the Joplin High School class of 2011 finally participated in its Project Graduation party (albeit an abbreviated version). Finally, this evening there will be a free concert on the oval at MSSU sponsored by the Joplin Pops.

Progress is also seen in the cleanup of the tornado areas within the city. Tandem trucks full of debris are a common sight throughout the city, and several cleared lots are now visible on both commercial and residential streets. Destroyed businesses have been demolished and construction has begun on some new buildings. The most notable of these buildings is the Walgreens on 20th and Rangeline. Construction crews demolished the former building and have already erected steel-reinforced walls setting the stage for the new store which should be one of the first on Rangeline to reopen since the storm.

All of these activities help us to see how amazing and determined the human spirit is. No doubt that with the efforts of so many dedicated workers, volunteers, and leaders our city will rebuild to be stronger and better than ever before. While the work is necessary to physically rebuild our city, the fun and relaxation are also vital to the overall health and well-being of our community.

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