By Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. —
David Durall said he wondered how many people his new house would hold if he wanted to have a party.
He got a good idea of the number on Tuesday when scores of people crowded into his home at 2501 S. Annie Baxter Ave. for another celebration — to mark the completion of his home to replace the one destroyed in the May 2011 tornado.
Volunteers and others involved with Rebuild Joplin took shelter in the new house to get out of a cold rain, but then the showers stopped long enough for brief a ribbon-cutting ceremony and comments from Durall and Rebuild Joplin officials.
Durall thanked the volunteers who worked on his house, saying they have become “special friends to me.”
He said he huddled in a stairwell during the tornado and twice thought he was going to be sucked out of the building by the high winds that demolished his home.
Durall, who has lived in a small studio apartment until his house could be completed, said the neighborhood where he had lived 45 years “looks a whole lot different than it did.”
“But it’s good to be home,” he said.
Jerrod Hogan, director of Rebuild Joplin, said the organization continues to work to replace homes lost in the storm.
“We celebrate getting one family home, but there are hundreds who still need help,” he said. “One of the things we want to do today is spread the word that there is more that needs to be done.”
Hogan credited the Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri and the local United Way for providing funding for the house, plus volunteer labor by “hundreds of volunteers including Mennonite Disaster Services.”
More than 80 volunteers worked on the project, putting in 1,374 hours that would translate to $29,929 in value if the workers had been paid, he said.
Rebuild Joplin was formed after the tornado to build safe and affordable housing for residents whose homes were destroyed. The not-for-profit organization rebuilds homes affordably and quickly by using both paid employees and volunteers including war veterans, AmeriCorps members, and skilled and nonskilled community members.
By the numbers
REBUILD JOPLIN has rebuilt 60 homes and currently has 12 homes under construction.