The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

June 12, 2012

Joplin Humane Society finding ‘new normal’

Donations, volunteers decline despite remaining need

When Chris Zar and her family made their way out of the bathroom that sheltered them through the May 2011 tornado, she knew there was no way her five cats could have survived.

Zar searched what was left of her neighborhood near the site for the new Joplin High School and visited an emergency pet shelter. She finally began to accept the fact that her cats — she called them her babies — were either killed or lost in the storm.

Zar said that after moving and settling into a new place, she and her husband began feeling an emptiness.

“Something was missing, and we couldn’t really put a finger on it,” she said.

Realizing it was the absence of pets, she and her husband headed to the Joplin Humane Society, this time during the adopt-a-thon that was held June 25. They adopted two young cats, Trouble and Sugar, because, as she said, “Cats are like potato chips; you can’t have just one.”

Zar said she doesn’t think she has moved on from the loss of her five cats as much as she would like, but she is glad she was able to save her two new cats.

“There wasn’t anything I could do to protect them,” she said of her five previous cats. “I had to protect my family, and I saved two others who went through the same thing. ... We feel like (Trouble and Sugar) are the good thing that came out of the storm.”

More than a year after the tornado, Zar said, her pets are helping her heal.

“They take care of us, I swear, as much as we take care of them,” she said.

“They’re so calming. Sometimes I get to where I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, then one of them gets on my lap. Either Trouble does some silly antic, or Sugar just quietly sits beside me and purrs. It’s just the most calming, and everything’s OK.”

Pets can play an important role after a disaster, said Lysa Buehler, shelter manager with the Joplin Humane Society.

“Many people have pets that have been much more reliable and long-term than relationships,” she said. “They always understand and seem to be able to silently comfort us. It is critical to emotional recovery that people be able to keep their pets with them.”

“We view helping pets as helping people,” said Tim Rickey, a Joplin native who is the senior director of field investigations and response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “You reunite people with their pets and you recognize just how important their pets are.

“My animals are part of my family. Part of it is it makes your family whole again, and that can have a tremendous impact on your ability to recover.”

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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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