The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

May 17, 2012

Family of triplets born before tornado celebrates first year

JOPLIN, Mo. — Things are looking up on Marigold Drive in a subdivision northwest of Joplin.

It’s now home to the Harper triplets, born May 17, 2011, at Freeman Hospital West to Jayme and Chris Harper.

Because they were born eight weeks early, the three faced many long-term health problems.

But it also meant they escaped the EF-5 tornado that bore down on their Jackson Avenue home on May 22 and leveled it, scattering cribs, diapers and new clothes they never had the chance to wear.

Addison, the feisty one at 1.13 pounds, was born first, followed by Lauren, the more laid-back of the three, weighing 2.2 pounds. Reagan, the last to make an appearance, was the biggest at 3.11 pounds.

Joplin’s Ronald McDonald House would become home for the parents for several weeks until they could find and purchase the home on Marigold Drive. It would be months before they would all sleep under its roof for the first time.

In early July, Reagan was the first to leave Freeman, weighing 6.9 pounds. Addison was next on Aug. 11, weighing 5.7 pounds. But Lauren required multiple surgeries at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to correct a congenital heart condition, and she wouldn’t come home for good until December.

In the past year, the triplets did what all babies do: They grew, they cut teeth, they began making sounds.

They also did things most babies don’t: They made weekly trips to Kansas City and Springfield to see medical specialists. Their parents keep a three-ring binder of details related to their care, their medications and their appointments. It is now an inch thick.

They all had speech and physical therapy; Lauren relied on a pacemaker and a feeding tube.

Given their most unusual first year, it was fitting that on Thursday, the triplets celebrated their first birthday in a most unusual way. The family members made the rounds to Health Essentials, a medical supply company they came to rely on for their daily needs; the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Freeman, where the babies spent months in recovery; and the Ronald McDonald House.

“You get to know them so well,” Jayme Harper said of those who have helped the family. “They became an extended part of us, and we wanted to show everyone how much the girls have grown and to tell them how much we appreciate all they’ve done for us.”

And then the girls returned home to a birthday present like no other: Joplin Pool & Spa installed an 18-foot-round, above-ground pool in the family’s backyard to accommodate the triplets’ ongoing physical therapy needs.

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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

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    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

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    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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