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Business and economy news and issues in the Ozarks.

Joplin Pharmacy Destroyed in Sunday Tornado Operational By Saturday

David Starrett

Rob O’Brian is President of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, and today has an update on the City’s 531 businesses destroyed or severely damaged or destroyed by an EF-5 tornado which tore through the town May 22, 2011 killing 161 persons. O’Brian says of the businesses and the 5,000 job slots affected by the tornado, 90% are back in business and back to work. “The status of Joplin’s business community is very dynamic. The thing we have seen is about 160 new businesses come into Joplin. So pre tornado, we are up month over month about 1,000-1,500 jobs more than pre tornado.”

Rob O’Brian says emergency business loans through the SBA; The Joplin Tomorrow Fund; and the Joplin Business Recovery Fund, along with the easing of governmental regulations related to wait time, plus private insurance, helped businesses large and small begin recovery efforts quickly. “The Big box retailers were very quick to get back. The city helped them to move forward, get permitted on a timely basis, and get that part of the economy going. We also helped a lot of small firms, in terms of finding other locations they could get in to. Some of them were very quick to find new locations.”

“Yes, I’m David Starrett, and my wife (Sheree) and I own the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Joplin.” At its new location in the 2100 block of E. 32nd Street. “Our previous location was on 20th Street , which was totally wiped out by the tornado. We were fortunate enough to secure this new location the next day. We’re just blessed. We were not in Joplin that Sunday. We were driving back from KC that afternoon and got a text from one of my employees that said Store Gone. We didn’t know what was going on. We got home, saw what had happened. We lost a few of our customers in the storm, they lost their lives, and we had 4 employee’s homes destroyed. But in the midst of all that tragedy, we fared pretty well and really feel fortunate, feel blessed.”

David and Sheree Starrett’s Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy on 20th Street was flattened Sunday evening, but at their undamaged home Monday morning while planning their next course of action, a customer called to offer them use of a vacant building on 32nd Street. “Well Yea!...So we made a mad dash to 32nd Street, but it didn’t look like it would work for us. It just so happens though, that right across the street was the location we are at now. It was empty and had a sign in the window which read For Lease, so I called immediately and said we’re interested can we look at it? We opened up 5 days later on that Saturday after the tornado.” With, as David Starrett points out, the help of kind hearted strangers, good friends, good luck, good government, good insurance and great employees. “So many people coming in to help the whole town. It seemed on every parking lot people were barbequing and feeding people. We had ladies in SUV’s jumping out with cases of water and personal pizzas for 15 crew member doing our cleanup. Our insurance company brought a crew in, and was very responsive. In the mean time because the powers that be declared this a disaster area, my state license, and federal narcotics licenses, arrived by Friday, and by golly we opened up that Saturday. We had so many folks that came by that didn’t really need anything, they wanted to check on us and see how we were, but they also wanted to tell their stories. So we did a lot of listening. A lot of crying and hugging. So really, we feel quite fortunate, number one to serve our customers. To get back open as soon as we could was so important.”

Mike Smith's career at KSMU began in 1980 as a student announcer when the former Navy Submariner attended (then) SMSU with help from the GI Bill. In 1982 Smith became a full time member of the KSMU family as "Chief Announcer", responsible for the acquisition, training and scheduling of the student announcing staff. It was also in 1982 when Smith first produced "Seldom Heard Music" a broadcast of Bluegrass which is still heard on KSMU and every Saturday night at 7CT.