The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

March 6, 2013

Tornado services center to close soon

JOPLIN, Mo. — Whenever Randall St. Pierre needs something, he hops on his bicycle and pops over to the Human Services Campus that serves tornado survivors.

His bike is his only transportation as a result of his losses in the 2011 Joplin tornado. He’s still living in one of the few remaining mobile homes installed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide temporary housing to people who were displaced by the storm.

But because the number of those still homeless has dwindled to 35 or fewer, the Human Services Campus operated by the Joplin Family Y is preparing to close. There will still be access to some services for the displaced tornado survivors until May, but they’ll have to go to the Y’s location downtown at Fifth Street and Wall Avenue to get assistance.

“Them moving is going to be a complication for me,” said St. Pierre when he stopped at the campus on Wednesday to ask workers to fax a document he needed to send.

When the campus was put in at 5708 N. School Ave. next to the FEMA mobile home parks on Highway 171 and Prairie Flower Road, it served about 500 families that had no place else to live. It allowed agencies, faith-based organizations, service groups and others to bring their services under one roof for those in need as the result of the tornado.

About 40 agencies and nonprofits, including Access Family Health Care, Ozark Center, Legal Aid of Western Missouri and Rebuild Joplin, used the campus to meet with those who needed help.

Mercy Hospital held community dinners there twice a month. Senior Connection held socials there. There were block parties, barbecues, events to entertain children and a lending library for books.

People who needed professional services — things like counseling or support groups, legal advice or General Educational Development classes — could go there.

Want to search for a house or a job? Computer access is available for that.

Need child care when you’re looking at houses or going to a job interview? That can be arranged.

All are examples of the access that tornado survivors had through the campus.

“There are still people who don’t know we’re here,” said Kellee Shepherd, campus director, even though there has been advertising of the location since the campus opened a year ago. And though the campus building will close on March 29, “we’d like to encourage whoever hasn’t seen us to come here before we close,” she said this week.

About 4,000 contacts have been registered there for everything from faxing a job application to seeking trauma counseling. “Some are repeat, some are not,” Shepherd said of the people who have come for things like job-skill coaching or even just a meal and some company at one of the social events.

But with the most of those 500 families and individuals relocated now to permanent housing, traffic into the campus is down to a trickle that doesn’t justify keeping the resources there anymore.

Darlene Harper, who with her husband, Thomas Harper, and 17-year-old son, Greg Lamp, has been living in a FEMA trailer near the campus, feels lucky for all the help she and her family have received since their home was destroyed in tornado.

“We’ve gotten used to it,” she said of the way of life of displaced tornado survivors. “We were staying in a pop-up camper in our backyard” immediately after the tornado until the summer heat drove them to search for other housing. They stayed with some friends and rented motel rooms as they could afford it until they got the FEMA home. “This was like the Taj Mahal coming from a pop-up camper,” she said.

By living in the FEMA park near the human services campus, the family made contact with the faith-based organization Samaritan’s Purse after the organization left a flier on their door. That organization is building the family a replacement house with volunteer labor on the lot where their house was destroyed at 2201 Empire Ave. Their new house will be ready in April or May, so they are one of the last few families preparing to leave.

“Our involvement with them has completely changed our lives,” Harper said of Samaritan’s Purse “Now, we want to do this work.” She and her husband plan to repay the help they received by using vacations from their jobs to go to other places to volunteer with groups like Samaritan’s Purse.

Another resident, Kurt Myers, said his future is not as clear yet as the Harpers. Since the tornado destroyed the home he was buying on contract for deed, he got sick and as a result of his illness lost his job. Now he’s hoping his application for disability benefits will be approved to help him firm up a plan for living quarters for himself and his 13-year-old daughter. His alternative is to find income-based housing, though there is little of that available, he said.

Until then, Myers, who said he never wanted to have to ask for help, has finally learned that there are times he must ask for assistance from his Salvation Army case worker, another service accommodated through the human services campus.

Still open

The Human Services Campus is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Information is available on Facebook at The phone number is 417-553-4691.

A closing reception for the campus will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 15. Any resident who has participated in activities or any former employee who has worked there may attend.


Text Only
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

Purchase Globe Photos

Featured Ads
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief