The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

June 12, 2012

Mike Pound: Local landscapers help tornado victims move forward

When the May 22 tornado hit, Mary Grissom’s family business, like a host of other Joplin businesses, took a severe hit.

That business, Inside Out Designs, specializes in home ponds and landscaping and the storm temporarily wiped out 65 percent of its customers. Rather than sit around twiddling their thumbs until new construction began, the family looked for ways to help.

“They needed us in other directions,” is how Mary put it the other day.

Family members helped with the rebuilding of Cunningham Park. They helped out on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” and they put a pond in at the Freeman Cancer Center.

When I chatted with Mary on Tuesday the family was installing a pond at Parr Hill Park as a memorial to the children who were killed, injured or otherwise impacted by the storm.

“We are putting in the basin right now and tomorrow we will work on the waterfalls. It will have five waterfalls,” she said.

Money for the project came from donors, and the Grissoms are giving their time as are a host of volunteers. Mary said that once the waterfalls are complete work on landscaping will begin.

“We hope to be done and out of the park by the end of the week,” Mary said.

I told Mary that I loved Parr Hill Park and that when I first saw the park shortly after the storm I was heartbroken.

Mary told me that if I loved the park before the tornado, I will also love the new park.

“It makes us feel good to be putting water back in the park. When the city gets finished it will be just gorgeous,” she said.

Mary doesn’t seem to be one of those “woe is me” types. She also doesn’t seem to be the type to get too wrapped up in the past. Nope, Mary and her family seem to be the “let’s get going, let’s move on” sort of folks

“That’s what I like about Joplin. We didn’t wait for help. We just went to work and now we’re moving on. We aren’t going to let that tornado stop us,” she said.

On June 23 area residents can get a look at how some people are moving on.

For some time, the Grissoms have sponsored home pond tours as a fundraiser for the Joplin Business Women’s Association. What the Grissoms do is put together tours of home ponds in Joplin. For obvious reasons, there was no ponds tour last year but the fundraiser is back this year.

Stephanie Everitt, with the group, tells me that this year’s tour will include nine home ponds throughout Joplin. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 23. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at Inside Out Designs, 1416 Virginia Ave.; Dixie Printing, 1418 S. Main St.; and the Wild Flower, 1932 E. 32nd St.

Stephanie says tickets will serve as maps to each pond on the tour. Proceeds will assist women’s education. For more information, call Mary at 417-483-4319.

For Mary, the return of the tour is just one more sign that Joplin is moving forward. Many of the ponds on the tour are new but two of the ponds hold a special place in Mary’s heart.

“There were destroyed in the tornado and were on opposite ends of the storm. One is on West 28th Street near where the storm began and the other is out by Flying J near the end of the storm,” she said.

Mary hopes the tour will give folks ideas for their own backyards. She also hopes it will boost morale and help folks look forward rather than backward.

I think it will.

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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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