The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

March 27, 2013

VIDEO: Freeman Health System unveils Beacon of Hope Tornado Memorial

JOPLIN, Mo. — When Jennifer Donaldson was carried on a door into the emergency room at Freeman Hospital West the night of the tornado, she was so badly injured that her co-workers there did not recognize her.

The tornado on May 22, 2011, picked up Donaldson and dropped her an estimated 360 feet from her home. She suffered a broken neck and breaks to both shoulders, her left elbow, 11 ribs and her left leg. She was found with her feet sticking out from underneath three trees that had fallen on her.

She was in the intensive care unit for nine days and in the hospital for 28 days. About 90 days after the storm, she was back to work as a program secretary in the emergency room.

On Wednesday, during the dedication of the Beacon of Hope Tornado Memorial at the hospital, she thanked the people who saved her life.

To her co-workers who stood at her side that night, during her recovery and again during the dedication ceremony, she said: “The words ‘thank you’ just don’t seem to be enough. How do I thank you for saving my life?

“How do I thank you for giving me more birthdays and more Christmas mornings with my daughter? How do I thank you for another opportunity to laugh and see the sun rise? How do I thank you for fighting for my life when I was unable to?”

With that, Donaldson and Paula Baker, president of Freeman Health System, pulled down a cloth to unveil the memorial while a choir of Freeman employees sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The sun, obscured by gray clouds, would break through.

Said Baker: “Joplin is proof that from tragedy can spring hope. That even the darkest night is followed by dawn. That a once-stormy sky can again be filled with the colors of the rainbow.”

More than 200 people turned out for the unveiling ceremony near the C.H. Bentlage Medical Center. Steeped in symbolism, the memorial will glow at dusk as Freeman West did the night of the tornado. When everything around it was without electrical power, Freeman’s generators created an island of light in a sea of darkness.

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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

  • 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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