JOPLIN, Mo. —
Jane Cage and the residents of Joplin have received the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano for helping Joplin recover from the May 22, 2011, tornado.
Cage, 56, led the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team in its creation of a tornado-recovery plan for the city.
According to a statement released Thursday by Napolitano’s office, Cage “demonstrated exceptional leadership in helping the Joplin community recover from the devastating May tornado.”
The award also honored Joplin’s response after the nation’s worst tornado in nearly 70 years.
“The Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience recognizes outstanding response to a catastrophic incident and leadership in fostering resilient and prepared communities,” Napolitano said in the statement.
“Jane Cage and the Joplin community demonstrate this spirit of resilience and strength, serving as models for communities across our nation.”
Cage created the “Listening to Joplin” plan, which served as the foundation of the community’s recovery efforts. The Citizens Advisory Recovery Team used a variety of opportunities to reach people across the community, including those who were personally overwhelmed by their own losses from the storm.
Cage said she was surprised last Friday when she got the call from Napolitano notifying her that she was the recipient of the award. She was asked to not say anything until it was made public on Thursday.
Cage said that while she served as the “public face” of the recovery efforts, the award belongs to all the residents.
“Everybody has been working hard, not just me,” she said Thursday.
She said Joplin is a community that has not let itself be defined by the tornado, but rather by its response to the disaster.
“People see us as a community that didn’t wait, but stepped up to help ourselves,” she said.
Napolitano’s statement praised the entire community for “deciding together to build more resilient schools outside of the flood plain, develop stronger standards for home construction, and to develop shared facilities to use as storm shelters.”
JANE CAGE, a longtime Joplin businesswoman with Heartland Technology Solutions, was recognized as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year in April during the annual banquet put on by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.