The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 23, 2013

Joplin team drove through storm to get to Moore

It was a long drive in the middle of a severe thunderstorm that had earlier produced a massive tornado in Moore, Okla.

With the two-year anniversary of Joplin’s deadly twister approaching on Wednesday, a team of 14 Joplin emergency workers was ready to risk the trip in order to get help to a hurting Moore.

The Joplin team — 10 police officers, two medics and two firefighters — went to Moore on Monday night and returned on Tuesday. During the four-hour drive, the team members encountered such blinding rain from the storm that they slowed to 20 mph while driving on the interstate. That did not discourage the team.

“It wasn’t a question of whether we were going to go,” police Lt. Sloan Rowland said of Monday’s dispatch of a Joplin crew to Moore. “It was a question of how quick we could get there.

“Ours was an assessment to see what they needed.”

An EF-5 tornado hit Moore about 2:30 p.m. Monday, taking 40 minutes to grind its way about 20 miles across the city of 56,000, south of Oklahoma City.

Two elementary schools took hits; one was leveled, and seven children were killed. In all, 24 people were killed in the storm, including 10 children. Authorities have said about 12,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

“It looked like a large area,” Rowland said. “It was similar to the size of ours.”

Memories of those crucial early rescue hours in Joplin drove the team to get to Moore as quickly as possible, Rowland said. “There was a high number of injured and missing,” he said. “Initially we thought we had 500 dead and 1,500 missing,” but those numbers lowered quickly as people found relatives and co-workers in the deadly path of the storm.

When they arrived, the Joplin team members found a large contingent of emergency workers from nearby cities involved.

“They’re pretty well stabilized right now for manpower,” Rowland said. After providing information and working at a triage center, the Joplin team headed home. That may not end Joplin’s official involvement with Moore, though.

Rowland said Joplin initially had plenty of manpower, too. As the days of the recovery operation continue in Moore, a need to bring in fresh staffing could develop.

“You work some extremely long days — 12, 14, 16 hours,” Rowland said, “and there is a lot of stress built up, a lot of fatigue. One of the keys to dealing with that is to find those small victories,” such as helping a resident recover some belongings from the debris or finding people alive to reunite families and friends. “You have to take the positives in as much as you can,” to overcome the sadness of seeing the losses.

Joplin is ready for the call to help should Moore find a need, Rowland said.

About 2,500 people, including Rowland, attended a ceremony Wednesday at Cunningham Park marking the second anniversary of Joplin’s 2011 tornado. It took 161 lives and damaged or destroyed about 7,500 homes.



Thwarting efforts

OKLAHOMA OFFICIALS asked people to bypass Moore’s exits on Interstate 35 on Thursday because traffic was interfering with recovery work. That effort also was being slowed by more thunderstorms moving through, according to The Associated Press.

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May 2011 Joplin tornado
  • Local new-home construction catches up to previous pace

    After a slow start early in this fiscal year for Joplin, the construction of new houses has resumed at the pace that existed in fiscal year 2013, when permits for new houses averaged more than 16 per month. Since November, the beginning of Joplin’s fiscal year, permits for 118 houses have been issued for a total cost of $12.8 million. The average value has been about $108,000.

    June 11, 2014

  • 052212 unity walk1_72.jpg SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary

    May 22, 2012 1 Photo

  • 060314 Farmers rebuild 1_72.jpg Farmers Insurance writes manual based on experience from Joplin disaster recovery

    Joplin’s housing recovery from the 2011 tornado is one for the books. Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, announced Tuesday that not only will Farmers Insurance stick with Rebuild Joplin to repair and replace the homes left on the local group’s waiting list, but the company also will kick off a similar recovery effort today for the city of Sea Bright, New Jersey, based on a book it has written to expedite disaster recovery that is based on its experience in Joplin.

    June 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • r052214butterflygarden.jpg New park feature opens on tornado anniversary to encourage healing

    Cunningham Park has become an emotional place for Pamela Praytor. The name of her son, Christopher Lucas, is engraved on a monument that stands in the park in memory of the 161 people who were killed in the May 2011 tornado. “Even though I cry when I come, it’s OK,” she said. “It’s part of the healing.”

    May 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • r051214greenbldgs3.jpg Home, business cited as examples of energy efficiency, strength

    Ramona and Charles “Hugh’’ Shields were not the least bit reluctant on Monday to open their new house in the tornado zone to a bunch of strangers who had a lot of questions. “I used to live in a house where I had to wear two pairs of socks in the winter to keep my feet warm — not anymore,’’ said Ramona Shields. “This house is nice and warm in the winter, and nice and cool in the summer.’’

    May 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mercy Health System to receive $23 million FEMA grant

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide Mercy Health System of Joplin with $23 million in public assistance funding by the end of the year. The disaster relief was announced Friday by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    April 25, 2014

  • Respond With Love flower.jpg Joplin pays it forward with flowers; residents asked to return bulbs ‘fostered’ for other towns

    Suzan Morang’s front yard bloomed brightly last year from a colorful array of bulbs that she will happily pass on to someone else this year. Morang, 1207 Xenia Court, is a participant in America Responds With Love, a national nonprofit organization that distributes bulbs to disaster-stricken cities.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creator of Joplin-based ‘Dear World’ exhibit features Boston bombing victims in new work

    The messages written on the skin of some Boston Marathon victims may be different, but Joplin residents will recognize the handwriting. Robert X. Fogarty, the creator of the “Dear World: From Joplin with Love” exhibit, took his signature style of photography and inspiration to Boston. Fogarty traveled to Joplin in 2011 and took pictures of community members with inspirational messages written on their bodies in black ink.

    April 21, 2014

  • r041414wildwood.jpg Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone

    Gladys Dutton has done a lot of things in her life, but Monday’s dedication of the Communities at Wildwood Ranch nursing home marked a first. “I’ve never cut a ribbon before,” she said. “I hope I do a good job.” Dutton was one of four residents to participate in the opening of the $8.5 million nursing center that eventually will be home to 120 people.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joplin Redevelopment Corp. preparing for first property sale

    The first sale of property from the Joplin Redevelopment Corp. to Wallace Bajjali Development Partners is scheduled for May 16. The city staff will be working to prepare for that sale, it was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the JRC.

    April 9, 2014

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