The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

October 23, 2012

Storm victim’s home all but finished; Boyd Metals, Toyota lauded for help

Tara Johnston recounted the day the tornado destroyed her home at 2021 S. Jackson Ave. and nearly tore her life apart.

She spoke of how she fell to her knees with grief and worry as she feared that her daughter and grandson had perished on May 22, 2011.

“Our lives were in limbo after the tornado,” she said. “How do you start over? Where do you begin?”

Her family survived the tornado, but she faced the daunting challenge of rebuilding the family home. After the family’s insurance company paid the mortgage debt on the house, Johnston was left with an empty lot and no resources to start rebuilding.

Those resources came via help from Rebuild Joplin, a $50,000 donation from Boyd Metals and support from the Toyota Production System Support Center. On Tuesday, Johnston stood on the front porch of her nearly finished home to thank those who helped build it.

With tears in her eyes, she said: “This house means more than just a place to live. It’s a new beginning.”

The two-time cancer survivor and single mother invited those attending the ceremony to a storage shed at the rear of her house where all of the volunteers who helped work on the house had signed their names.

“If you worked on this house, you are a part of our family now,” she said. “We want you to sign the shed.”

Among the first to sign was Steve St. Angelo, vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America. St. Angelo, moments before, had presented a $100,000 check to Rebuild Joplin to keep the organization’s homebuilding momentum going. It is the single largest corporate donation Rebuild Joplin has received.

St. Angelo described how Toyota employees over the past few months have provided guidance to Rebuild Joplin to increase quality and productivity while reducing the amount of time needed to rebuild a house.

“We’ve seen over and over again where our manufacturing techniques can help any kind of organization — whether it’s a manufacturer or a nonprofit group,” St. Angelo said.

With Toyota in the driver’s seat, Rebuild Joplin has reduced the time it takes to reconstruct a home from an average of 62 days to 41 days — a 34 percent improvement.

“Rebuild Joplin loves Toyota,” said Jerrod Hogan, co-founder of Rebuild Joplin. “Sylvester Dupree (with Toyota) spends three days a month with us working on continuous improvement at all levels. This is the gift that keeps on giving. This is huge.

“Being 34 percent faster has a direct impact on the lives of people. They are no longer bearing the human toll of inefficiency. They are no longer staying in a FEMA trailer.

“We are waiting for the headline that says ‘Everybody’s home.’ We’ll see that headline sooner as a direct result of our partnership with Toyota.”

By coming to Joplin to identify problems and correct them, St. Angelo said, Toyota is fulfilling a Japanese approach to business that’s called “genchi genbutsu.”

“It means ‘I come and see for myself.’ It’s go to the site for yourself — to see what is going on,” he said. “So we can judge for ourselves and see how many people we can help.”

Jamie Bonini, general manager of the Toyota Production System Support Center, said the company’s approach is to maximize resources to do more with less.

“It’s about problem-solving,” he said. “We fix the problems so they don’t happen again. Everyone becomes a problem-solver.”

Bonini said Dupree helped Rebuild Joplin create a visual management system that tracks the progress and roadblocks that each project encounters. Large boards are used to follow and document the procedure.

“That has been extremely beneficial,” Bonini said. “We have also introduced a culture of teamwork. We feel this can be a model for future disaster recoveries.”

What it means for Johnston, St. Angelo said, is that she could be living in her new house by Thanksgiving instead of by Christmas. The family has been living in temporary Federal Emergency Management Agency housing for the past year.

A committee was formed at Boyd Metals to select the person who would be helped, said Audie Dennis, vice president and general manager of the company’s branch operation in Joplin.

“Tara was the perfect candidate,” he said. “She has worked on this house as much as anybody.”

Dennis, who helped hang trusses for Johnston’s house, said Boyd Metals employees from Joplin, Oklahoma City, and Little Rock and Fort Smith in Arkansas have worked weekends on the house with volunteers from across the country.

“This has been a great team-building exercise,” he said.

In addition, the $50,000 donation from Boyd Metals is being matched by the Heart of Missouri United Way in Columbia. “That means we can sponsor a second house for another family,” Dennis said.

Among those working on the house on Tuesday was Lana Landis, with the First Christian Church of Wadsworth, Ohio. She and two men from Wadsworth were painting one of four bedrooms in the Johnston house.

“We’re here for the week, and we’ve got to meet the owner and her family,” Landis said. “We love it that we’re helping put this family back into a home.”



Volunteers needed

REBUILD JOPLIN has rebuilt 27 homes and is working on 20 others. Now that Rebuild Joplin has streamlined its home-building approach, the relief organization is in need of volunteers and corporate sponsors.

IN AUGUST, the pool of available volunteers declined as students and others returned to school. For the first time since the tornado, there is a need for volunteers.

TO VOLUNTEER, people may contact Rebuild Joplin at 623-0065.

1
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
Facebook
Tornado: Multimedia coverage
Tornado: Obituaries
Tornado: Columns
Tornado: Mike Pound
Tornado: Lists of missing, fatalities & relief
Tornado: Donate & volunteer
Tornado: Resources & relief