The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

November 17, 2012

Kent State University team maps recovery to learn how cities rebuild from disaster

JOPLIN, Mo. — An Ohio professor is using advanced mapping techniques to examine rebuilding in Joplin for clues that might explain why some neighborhoods recover after a disaster but others don’t.

Andrew Curtis is the director of the Geographic Information Systems Health and Hazards Lab at Kent State University, and his work has taken him to some of the biggest natural disasters in the United States over the past seven years, including the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and Tuscaloosa, Ala., after its 2011 tornado.

Curtis tracked the path of destruction from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 at a street-by-street level using methods similar to those used by Google Street View.

He was in Joplin over the weekend, his fifth visit since the storm.

“We have a street view of all of these roads that were in the path of the tornado,” Curtis said. “We are looking at why places returned and how they got there. We are mapping how a community grows and develops in the face of a disaster like this.”

The mapping will examine what role might a church, park or school play in a neighborhood’s recovery, for example.

Equipped with a Subaru Outback and three high-definition video cameras mounted on it, on this visit he studied the roads that he and his crew traveled near 26th Street to see how much work still had to be done.

Curtis said he will compile roughly 60 hours of video over the weekend that he will then compare with his previous video.

He hopes to isolate factors that limit growth, in addition to creating a visual narrative for areas that have experienced major disasters.

“In situations like Joplin, you can see the anchoring of neighborhoods that have rebuilt, and it spreads from there,” Curtis said. “We are articulating the land changes and providing a context of where growth will occur. In addition to mapping that growth, the applications that others can use this for are nearly limitless.”

Steve Smith, a geography professor at Missouri Southern State University, was providing local assistance.

“We will be using this information for years to come by tracking patterns of change,” Smith said. “In effect, we are still mapping, but it is happening in such a different way. We aren’t showing one picture or one isolated frame here. Instead, this is a bigger scope by explaining the why of how an area changes and that is handled visually. Putting it together makes you realize the impact of how this area will rebuild over a long enough timeline.”

Curtis said he will keep tracking the rebuilding for as long it takes.

“I plan on returning here often to keep this project going over the next five years,” Curtis said. “I want to keep filming until there is no further visible change to the area. I want the community of Joplin to benefit over the long term from this work, and the filming that I am doing will be available to anyone who can put it to use locally.”

Real-world lab

The Kent State University experts in town this weekend are only the latest who see in Joplin a real-world lab to study disaster issues. Students and faculty from the University of Oregon, Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Drury University and the University of Arkansas have been here studying everything from immediate disaster response to urban planning; the role photographs play in families, society and history; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r071114redoak2.jpg Red Oak II: Lowell Davis’ ‘dream, art, love’ and final resting place

    The collection of buildings would become a town (though he didn’t intend for it to, and it has never been officially recognized either by the U.S. Postal Service or the state of Missouri).

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • r072514schoolhouse3.jpg VIDEO: Full of history, one-room schools focus of preservation by local groups

    The old Kings Prairie school sits on a narrow Barry County farm road, surrounded by quiet fields and farmland.

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072314girlgunclub3.jpg Women's league offers practice, social opportunities for gun owners

    The objective for some is to improve their skills for target or competitive shooting, the league's website says. Others, while wanting to improve their skills, also are interested in aspects of self-defense.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414trainwreck2.jpg Train crash a century ago among area’s worst disasters

    Burk Johnson had been threshing wheat near Joplin when his newlywed son and daughter-in-law picked him up and took him to Joplin’s Union Depot to catch the evening train home to Neosho.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • 072614 Faith 2.jpg Rich Brown: McDonald County Children's choir combines music with a gospel ministry

    The McDonald County Children's Choir may entertain a lot of people, but the hope is that it will bless even more through its ministry, according to choir director Amber Nelson.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Appellate court upholds class-action status for Picher residents

    An appellate court upheld a 2013 ruling on Thursday that a class-action lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout of property in the city can proceed.

    July 25, 2014

  • 1717 Marketplace developer faces more federal charges

    The developer of 1717 Marketplace in Joplin has been indicted with more bankruptcy fraud charges, in addition to those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes that totaled more than $3.3 million in losses.

    July 25, 2014