6 months ago today a devastating EF-5 tornado swept through Joplin and Duquesne. Today the community looks back on the work that has been done, and ahead to what is to come.

And, there is much to come. The Jasper County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Long Term Recovery Committee estimates it will take five years for the city to recover. The Committee’s Steve Patterson explains, that is when all needs stemming from the disaster might be met. “We have looked at two other, previous long-term recovery efforts and they took about three years on each of those. The one in Carl Junction and then later the one in Neosho; the tornadoes that took place in both those communities. When we finally were able to close out all the cases, it generally was about a 3 year process.”

Patterson says the focus right now is on rebuilding, and donations of both time and money are needed. He says the time that unskilled labor was needed is passed. “With so many homes destroyed, we are working with a number of different levels of this. Some of it’s reconstruction completely, some of it is repair of current properties. So we need skilled people who could come and work with us in those areas.”

Monetary donations can be made to a fund set up at Arvest Bank. Checks can be made out to COAD, and sent to:

Arvest Bank
Attn: Branch Manager
701 South Main Street
Joplin, MO 64801
Patterson says the Committee works through a case management system to respond to needs, and donated funds go to some of those needs.

Crystal Payton is the External Affairs Lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA will maintain an office in Joplin as long as a housing program is in place as part of the recovery.

She says Joplin has come a long way in the last 6 months. “They have worked closely with the state, and federal, and voluntary agencies that have come to town in order to support their response and recovery, and in all aspects I think from debris management to housing to their own development of critical facilities and looking at a path forward.”

The City will mark the day with a memorial ceremony beginning at 4:30 at Cunningham Park, across from St. John’s Hospital, both of which were hit by the tornado. During the ceremony the first of 161 trees will be planted; one for every victim of the storm. A moment of silence will begin at 5:41 p.m.; the time the tornado hit Joplin.