Some scars apparently remain long after the wounds have begun to heal.
That was the impression Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean had after viewing Joplin from the air Wednesday.
“You can still clearly see the tornado path,” she said. “It’s clearly etched by the lack of trees, the sparse housing. It still takes your breath away.”
The mayor joined nearly 30 other leaders from the city and Missouri Southern State University in taking aerial tours of Joplin by helicopter on Wednesday morning, courtesy of the Missouri Army National Guard aviation wing from Springfield and MSSU instructor Capt. Amanda Self.
The flights, each about 10 minutes long, flew the group along the six-mile path of the tornado in Joplin, beginning at the eastern edge of the city.
Despite the still-visible wounds to the city landscape, Colbert-Kean said she could easily envision what Joplin will look like in the next five to 10 years. A plan developed by the city’s contracted master developer calls for more than $800 million in projects, including a new theater/library complex, a performing and visual arts center, an event venue and sports complex, and a hotel and convention center.
“I see a lot of potential, and once the master developer really gets going, it will be almost like bringing the big city to Joplin,” Colbert-Kean said. “You see the possibilities of the growth in Joplin.”
Scott Clayton, executive director of Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, said he appreciated the opportunity to see Joplin from the air. He said that from the helicopter, he saw several Habitat homes — 52 have been completed since the tornado, with six more scheduled for completion next week — as well as several other housing developments under construction.
“I was thinking about how far we’ve come,” he said of his train of thought during the flight. “There’s a lot left to do, but so much has been done.”
MSSU President Bruce Speck said he was surprised to see forested areas surrounding Joplin, despite the general lack of trees inside the tornado zone.
“I thought it was quite amazing,” he said. “It was very interesting to see the city from an aerial viewpoint. You get a different perspective.”
Leading the flights were four representatives of the Missouri Army National Guard aviation unit in Springfield, the same unit that provided air transport for Gov. Jay Nixon and others after the tornado.
Joplin has had a particularly significant relationship with the National Guard since the tornado. Guardsmen became involved in Joplin and Duquesne the night of May 22, 2011; at its peak, the guard had 377 of its members helping in the two towns.
They initially worked search and rescue missions, directed traffic, and set up a mobile medical unit. More recently, they supervised 1,400 people who were participating in cleanup crews under a $19 million federal grant.
Last month, the National Guard pulled the last the soldier it still had working in the area as a result of the tornado.
Colbert-Kean said she is thankful to the National Guard — and the thousands of volunteers who worked in Joplin after the tornado — for their efforts in helping local residents clean up and rebuild.
“We support any type of organization that has been here during the time of the tornado,” she said. “We’re appreciative. I don’t think we can say that enough. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Some scars apparently remain long after the wounds have begun to heal.
- May 2011 Joplin tornado
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.
- SLIDESHOW: One year later, One day of unity, updated Photos from a day of events commemorating the May 22, 2011 tornado anniversary
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.
Issues prompt pair to seek help from city; allocations approved for repairs in tornado zone
Two people spoke to the Joplin City Council on Monday night about issues they would like the city government to address. Elizabeth Clement, a Neosho resident who works in Joplin, asked the city to operate more surveillance in parking lots because of the number of cars stolen. She said her car was stolen from the parking lot at Northpark Mall and used in robberies.
National institute releases final report on Joplin tornado
The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Friday released a final report into the technical investigation of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin — the deadliest tornado in the United States in the 64 years that official records have been kept.
Local tornado fund board cites appreciation, accomplishments
The 991 donations ranged from $1 to $119,000. They came from all over the world. On Tuesday, the managers of the Joplin Tornado First Response Fund gave an accounting of how those donations, which totaled about $995,950 with interest, were given in 41 grants, recipients of which included 27 local agencies.
Farmers Insurance extends tornado recovery commitment
After investments that included stationing a company executive in Joplin for eight months last year, officials with Farmers Insurance said the company will continue its post-tornado commitment to Joplin in 2014. “We’re going to stay until the end,” said Doris Dunn, director of community relations for the company, on Wednesday. “That includes sending in another 100-plus volunteers and making some additional financial investments.”
Author prepares for release of children’s book featuring heroic Joplin rescue dog
Carolyn Mueller is both a dog lover and a storyteller. So when she got the opportunity to write a story about a Joplin dog named Lily who helped search for survivors after the May 2011 tornado, she jumped on it. “Dogs like Lily can be heroes, too,” she said.
VIDEO: Lost photos claim day to be held at museum
National Disaster Photo Rescue and the Joplin Museum Complex have scheduled a public viewing and photo claim day for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the museum complex in Schifferdecker Park. The project, originally known as Lost Photos of Joplin, was organized in the weeks after the May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado to reunite storm victims with photos displaced by the storm.
Building-permit total since tornado nears $1 billion
The building of new homes in Joplin continues at an average pace of 16 to 18 per month, according to a building permit report released for December by the city of Joplin. Eighteen building permits for new homes were issued in both November and December. In fiscal year 2013, permits for new homes averaged more than 16 per month.
- More May 2011 Joplin tornado Headlines
- Opening of nursing home another recovery milestone