The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 2011 Joplin tornado

October 8, 2012

GALLERY: Commitment to build Habitat home begins before walls go up

JOPLIN, Mo. — One week ago, 2630 S. Wall Ave. was nothing more than an empty lot.

In a matter of days, that all changed.

Crews dug a foundation on Tuesday.

Forms were set and concrete was poured on Wednesday.

Two days later, flooring was put in place.

By Monday, a blue-sky day just crisp enough for a jacket, the empty corner lot wasn’t empty anymore. There was a house. Or at least the skeletal frame of one.

“I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited,” April Foulks said as she paused from putting up sections of framing on Monday morning.

The house — one of 47 that Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity has under construction in the area — illustrates what it takes as the community rebuilds from the nation’s worst tornado in more than half a century.

Before the first walls were raised, money needed to be raised, a site for the home had to be found, and donations, workers and volunteers had to be organized.

Volunteer beginnings

Foulks, a Webb City resident who works in the Jasper County juvenile office, was among a group of people from the courthouse who, in the immediate aftermath of the May 2011 tornado, helped shovel debris.

Some of it belonged to people they knew; some if it belonged to those they didn’t know.

“I think it began with us helping a co-worker, a woman who lived on Grand,” Foulks said. “And I remember thinking in the middle of that, ‘This is going to take years.’”

But, like other groups that responded to Joplin, they kept plugging away. Members made a list of cleanup projects and tackled one each weekend.

“The city got done a lot faster than we thought, and then we looked up one day and said, ‘It’s done,’” Foulks said.

Jasper County Circuit Judge Gayle Crane on Monday said members of the group didn’t want to stop helping, so they decided to shift their efforts from recovery to rebuilding.

In October 2011, Foulks called Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity to learn about the requirements for groups seeking to become house sponsors.

“They told me it was $50,000, and that sounded like a lot,” Foulks said. “I was very skeptical. But the judge (Crane) was positive. She said, ‘We’ll raise it.’”

Foulks, who used to work at the Joplin Police Department, and her husband, Derek Walrod, a captain with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department, began reaching out to those they knew in the judicial system and law enforcement. So did Crane.

“This has been a case of someone who knows someone who knows someone,” Foulks said, referring to the way the project came together.

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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

  • 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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