After being hit with an EF5 tornado on May 22nd 2011 my town has displayed to hard work and community spirit that makes us all proud to call Joplin home.
I'll admit in the days following the tornado that destroyed nearly a third of the city including our business district and displaced over 9,000 people I, like most residents, was scared. How would people ever be able to go on with their lives after seeing loved ones ripped from their arms? I wondered what was going to happen to us and how we would ever be able to recover. If we were to recover, how long was it going to be before things felt "normal" again? It all seemed so unfair and like an impossible journey that lied ahead.
However, it became clear during that first week that we were not going to wait and see. Neighbors helped neighbors dig out and find places to stay. My Keller Williams office along with many, many other offices and agencies opened resourse centers for victims to get basic supplies, clothes and food. Help poured in from neighboring communities and from around the world. People were no longer concerned about their daily lives and desires, they were concerned about those around them.
The fear turned to hope and within weeks we began to see areas that looked like war zones start to be cleared. Home sales soared and new construction began in the summer following the storm. Extreme Home Makeover built 7 homes in 7 days for families that lost everything including loved ones to the storm. Our city park was blessed with a new playground and our schools that were destroyed pulled off what seemed to be an impossible task of relocating to temporary facilities and opened on time for the new school year.
Just over 6 months later many of our largest businesses have rebuilt from scratch and are now up and serving the community again. 85% of our destroyed businesses are rebuilding or are committed to rebuilding. New homes are sprouting up in the midsection of our town that had it's homes completely removed with little more that the foundation remaining.
Everyone gets a little sentimental at this time of year as we reflect on our lives. All I know is that my community has proved to me and the world that anything is possible through dedication and hard work. I am inspired by or residents everyday and am more thankful than ever for the many blessings in my life.