Sunday was the fifth anniversary of an EF-5 tornado that tore through Joplin, killing 161 people and damaging a third of the city. More than 1,000 others were also injured.
The one-mile wide tornado hit central Joplin, destroying 531 businesses and about 7,500 homes, apartments and duplexes. The destruction displaced nearly 20,000 people.
Five years later, most of those businesses destroyed have been rebuilt and 300 new ones have opened.
Pastor Aaron Brown of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church spoke at an event Sunday to reflect on that day and on how Joplin has rebuilt.
“This anniversary is a time to recognize for a lot of us that even though things will never be the same, they can still be good,” said Brown.
More than 180,000 volunteers helped Joplin after the tornado by working 1.5 million volunteer hours.
Americorps state and national director Bill Basl says the community’s resilience inspired thousands of volunteers to help with rebuilding efforts.
“They stuck with it and they didn’t give up. People from around the country and, in fact, some around the world came here to help Joplin rise up,” said Basl. “I know that those who served here will remember it forever. That’s because of the hospitality of people here in Joplin.”
Governor Jay Nixon (D) and Congressman Billy Long (R) also attended Sunday’s event and praised the community for its commitment to rebuild Joplin.
Joe Lancello of KZRG contributed to this story.