The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 6, 2012

VIDEO: Many Joplin tornado victims still eligible for help with home repairs

City, agencies encourage residents to come forward

Rebecca Smith may get to have her grandchildren visit her house in about two months instead of two or three years.

That’s how long she believes it would have taken her to repair damage caused by the May 2011 tornado without assistance from Rebuild Joplin.

Smith, 39, an in-home health care worker, had no insurance when the storm took her roof, broke her windows and shattered the siding and outside walls of her house at 2006 S. Pennsylvania Ave. She managed to put on another roof, fix windows and replace moldy wallboard in two bedrooms so at least she and her 15-year-old daughter have a place to sleep. But, the rest of the damage would have had to wait until she could muster the money. And until the moldy walls were gone, she did not want her grandchildren inside the house.

Nearly a year after the tornado, in early May, Smith decided to go to Catholic Charities to see if help was available for mending more of her broken home. She was told to contact disaster case management and found that she could get help with repairs through Rebuild Joplin. Volunteers on Wednesday were stitching up the exterior with new plyboard before the siding goes on.

It wasn’t easy for Smith to go in search of assistance.

“I just felt so bad about asking for help because our house was still standing,” she said, when others lost everything in the storm.

Kate Massey, director of development for Rebuild Joplin, believes that same view has kept other people from applying for help even though they may be living in houses that are unsafe because of damage and mold.

“There is no shame in asking,” Massey said. “She (Smith) has spent her whole life helping others” as a health care worker. “There’s a time to give and a time when we need some help.”

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