The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

April 22, 2012

Spirit of residents, volunteers lauded as rebuilding continues

JOPLIN, Mo. — Eleven months after the May 22 tornado, the spirit of volunteers continues through Joplin’s rebuilding efforts.

“I would say volunteer interest is still incredibly high,” Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, said last week.

“There are a lot of times where unskilled labor can assist, and that’s going to be great,” Clayton said. “But if you’re a framer, if you have some kind of professional skills and you’re looking to help Habitat, give us a call. We’d like to put you to work.

“After the tornado, a lot of people were pretty much taken aback about what happened to our city. Slowly but surely, through months of organization and thousands of good people, we’re in the stage now where we need to build. Habitat for Humanity will be building a lot more houses than we ever have before, but that’s what our role is, and we’re prepared to meet that with the partnerships of so many people. We’re excited, and God willing, we’re going to have a tremendous amount of production.”

Clayton was working at 24th Street and Wall Avenue last Wednesday when Energizer and Habitat for Humanity launched a 13-city tour in which volunteers will donate more than $350,000 and 1,000 hours. Special guests in Joplin were a 10-foot tall, pink Energizer Bunny and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who became known as baseball’s Energizer Bunny while breaking major league baseball’s consecutive game streak in the 1990s.

Ripken and Energizer’s “bunny brigade” worked on a home, and the volunteers later canvassed the neighborhood and distributed home power kits that included tips and products promoting energy efficiency.

Elaine Sosnowski, general manager of Energizer lighting products, noticed a big difference in Joplin from last July, when she came from St. Louis to assist with cleanup efforts.

“What I saw back then was there was a lot of cleanup going on,” she said. “What I saw (Wednesday) that was very different was it was rebuilding.

“This feels like the rebirth. You can still see what had happened, but the environment and the whole atmosphere feels so much more positive. You see that it’s flat, but it’s like OK, we’ve brushed away the old and the bad, and we’re building on this fertile ground for the future.”

Ripken became involved with Energizer six years ago and became the company’s first inductee into the Energizer Bunny Hall of Fame, which honors individuals for exceptional community service.

Last November, Ripken went to Japan to conduct baseball and softball clinics, and he saw the damage caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“I had a chance to witness the scale of devastation and the way it affected the Japanese people,” he said. “There is a similarity to this here. You couldn’t fathom the devastation until you’ve been here, and this is almost a year later.

“But I’m still amazed at the human spirit. The human spirit says: ‘OK, stuff happens. It was a horrible thing, but let’s move on and let’s rebuild.’”



‘A real need’

“WE’RE GOING TO DO OUR BEST to get everybody involved with working, but I would say if we had a real need, it would be the more skilled labor we could get would be tremendous,” said Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity.

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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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