Good Bye 2011!! The Year of the Joplin Tornado!
2011 December Blogging Challenge. Day 31, Blog 24
2011 is winding down and in a few hours it will be 2012! This past year has been a rough year here in Joplin, Missouri.
The days preceeding May 22, the day the EF5 tornado totally destroyed about 33% of the town, is hard to remember. When ask about events before the tornado we all have to stop and really concentrate to come up with anything.
One of the 2 major hospitals (7 stories) is gone. Our high school is gone. One brand new middle school is in the process of being torn down. 3 grade schools are gone. One Catholic grade school is gone along with one Catholic church. 10 or 12 total churches were destroyed. A large super center Walmart was destroyed along with Home Depot, 2 Walgreens, Academy Sports, Wendys, 3 or 4 pizza places, Sonic Drive In, many convenience stores and the list goes on and on.
The final count of loss of life stands at 161. This figure alone is totally amazing. It is really hard to believe that more lives were not lost when viewing the devastation.
As relief workers poured into town they were all amazed first by the total devastation and second by the fact that in a two day time period all streets were cleared of trees and drivable. The interstates into town were filled with caravans of pick up trucks and heavy equipment all headed to Joplin. One of the Fema workers wanted to know if everyone in town owned a chain saw!
Walgreens was totaled, torn down, debri removed and rebuilt in about 6 weeks. Walmart said they would be open for black Friday but were ahead of schedule with an opening by November 1.
The Joplin School superintendent stated the day after the storm that school would start on time. This was at a time when no one knew where they could even locate a facility for the high school, middle school or the grade schools. It was a giant goal that was met to the wonder of all.
The count for the number of homes destroyed was around 7000 plus 1000 apartments for a total of 8000 'doors'. For us in real estate it was totally unbelievable!! By the end of the first week every available rental that was still standing was rented.
By the end of the second week every vacant house that was on the market and still standing was sold. Of course the first thing we had to do was take inventory of what listings were still standing and which ones were gone. MLS was not very dependable for a while.
Today, seven months after the tornado our city manager announced that building permits have been issued for 50% of the destroyed homes and businesses. A number of new homes have been built. Extreme Home Makeover came to town and built 7 homes in 7 days. That show will air January 13, 2012.
Habitat for Humanity has built 10 homes in about 2 weeks and plan on doing more. They have teamed up with Habitat from Tulsa.
The outpouring of help and support at times have been overwhelming but so very much appreciated. Our realtor community checked to make sure everyone was okay. A number of realtors lost their homes and one young man was killed protecting his wife.
Hundreds of cars were lost. The insurance would not pay off on those that were missing. People were looking everywhere just to locate their damaged cars. It was truly a nightmare with things happening that you could not even imagine!!!
We are slowly but surely getting back to business but I doubt we will ever be able to say we are back to 'normal'. One of the overworked phrases for this year nation wide is the 'new normal' but in our case that is what it will be for years to come.
Our hopes for 2012 is for peace, happiness, health and a calmer year. We have had our dose of a wild year and one is enough!!
Happy New Year to all the 'Rainers'!!!