The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 8, 2014

MAP: Construction in area tops $1 billion since 2011 tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. — Recovery began the morning after the tornado.

Now, approximately 34 months later, Joplin and Duquesne have broken through a barrier that looked a long way off on the evening of May 22, 2011.

At it stands now, Joplin has racked up $997.3 million in repairs and new construction across all categories. Add in the rebuilt East Middle School and the new Soaring Heights Elementary School just outside the city limits — the two projects total $46.3 million — along with an estimated $5 million in rebuilding in Duquesne, and the total tops more than $1 billion.

“It started the very next day when Darren Collins came in and obtained a building permit,’’ said Troy Bolander, Joplin’s planning and community development director. “I was there when it happened. It had a big psychological impact.’’

Collins, with Collins Construction Co., of Joplin, obtained a permit to rebuild his wife’s beauty salon, Cut Loose, at 26th Street and Byers Avenue. It was issued May 31.

“The attention we received was not my intention at all,’’ he said. “Some thought we were thinking only about ourselves and not the victims. They did not see that we were victims, too.’’

And they did not know that Collins and his crew had been out the night of the tornado assisting in the recovery of injured individuals.  

His wife, Diana, said, “We had six girls in the salon who did not have an income. This was a strain on their families. We needed to rebuild quickly so that Darren could take on other jobs rebuilding houses.

“What we didn’t see at the time was how this would be a lift for a lot of people. It lifted their spirits,’’ she said. “We got letters from all over. One man in California sent us $20 and said: ‘Go have a beer on us. We are so happy you are doing this.’”

To date, Collins has put his stamp on 30 dwellings that have been constructed in Joplin since the tornado. Most of them have been in the tornado zone. He worked closely with building and code enforcement officials at City Hall.

“It was a learning experience for everyone involved. I think everybody on the fourth floor at City Hall did a bang-up job,’’ he said.

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