The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

October 13, 2012

Former homeowner donates lot, leaves behind message of hope

JOPLIN, Mo. — Before May 22, 2011, life had been good to 2630 S. Wall Ave.

Homer Miller’s parents were the first to live in the charming, Craftsman-style bungalow built of Carthage stone in 1938 by local contractor Floyd Fryer.

Homer was born a year later. He soon walked the gravel street a few blocks to Irving Elementary School, and later rode his bicycle to South Middle School. His uncle, for whom he was named, lived across the street at 2702 S. Wall Ave.

Homer Miller would move out when he turned 21, but his father and mother would remain in the home until their deaths. Now 73, Homer owns Homer’s Hearing Aids.

Tomie Avant, a Carl Junction attorney, eventually moved into the home in 2002, and took on projects to make it her own: She pulled out carpet to reveal original hardwood floors, painted the kitchen and front bedroom, and sewed cushions for the swing on the long front porch.

Her mother, Eloise Lamoreaux, and stepfather, Gale, moved into the house across the street — the one that had been owned by Homer’s uncle. It was easy to have them close by when they wanted help with a TV remote control or needed a jug of milk to be picked up from the store.

The tornado leveled it all.

Avant relied on her daughters, friends and church family to help salvage what they could, and eventually found another place to live.

“I loved it here,” Avant said last week of life at the corner lot. “Absolutely loved it. I have vivid memories of how it used to be.”

She then gestured to where her home used to sit.

“I couldn’t build here myself,” she said. “I just couldn’t take on all of that, dealing with builders, codes, everything.”

Avant was watching with tears in her eyes as volunteers raised walls on a new home being built on the lot — the Habitat for Humanity home that will belong to Ed and Angela Kunce. Avant is affiliated with the “Justice League,” a group of attorneys, law enforcement officers, court clerks, judges and others who are sponsoring the home’s construction. She chose to donate the lot to the project.

She also left a message of hope for the new owners, written on a 2x4 that has already become part of the front wall of the new home.

“God bless you and your wonderful family. I pray that you have as many happy memories in your home as I did in mine. My love and prayers go to you and your family.” It was dated “10-8-12.”

Avant said she also kept a piece of the original home for herself — Carthage stone salvaged from the rubble.

“I want to use it some day to build a fire pit at my new place,” Avant said. “Or to build something. I just couldn’t let it go.”


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May 2011 Joplin tornado
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    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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