The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 27, 2013

Joplin community publishes book of tornado experiences

Leaders in the Joplin community have published a collection of stories about the 2011 tornado and the recovery efforts that followed.

First-hand accounts for the book, titled “Joplin Pays It Forward,” were written by city and school leaders; officials from health care centers and public utility companies; leaders in the business and media communities; representatives of churches and nonprofit organizations; and individuals with federal, state and local disaster relief groups and agencies.

The book was compiled and edited by Jane Cage, who previously served as chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team.

Cage said in a telephone interview that the objective of the book, as its name suggests, is to pay forward all the help that Joplin residents received following the devastating tornado.

“It’s not meant to portray us as disaster experts, but I do believe that we have learned some valuable lessons along the way that could be helpful to another community to make their recovery faster or better,” she said.

Cage wrote in her written introduction to the book that it should not be construed as a list of best practices, but rather as a resource to those who might someday go through a similar experience.

“Joplin has been singled out as an example to the nation. We all have experiences that none of us ever wished for, but will allow us to make a difference,” she wrote. “In each of our stories, there may be a concept, an admission or an idea that will help us ‘pay it forward’ in recognition of the support that we received.”

Rich Serino, deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, wrote in a separate introduction that the book contains numerous lessons on how to handle mass devastation.

“Because this book is so cross-cutting, providing diverse perspectives and aspects of Joplin’s recovery, there is a lesson for everyone,” he wrote. “Whether a novice volunteer or a veteran emergency manager, we can all learn from Joplin’s experience.”

Cage said the idea for the book was sparked by a discussion with Juliette Kayyem, a former Boston Globe columnist who visited Joplin after the tornado and urged Cage to write about her experiences.


“Joplin Pays It Forward,” a collection of essays about recovery from the 2011 tornado, is available for free download in PDF format from and in an e-book format for electronic readers from The city also has an online submission form on its website for readers to contact any of the authors for more information about their essays.

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