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Rebuilding Joplin

As Joplin residents continue to rebuild after the tornado that happened nearly a year ago, they are not alone. Many organizations are still in the area to assist. KSMU’s Melanie Foehrweiser talked to one of these organizations and has this report.

Within hours of the tornado, the Ozarks Regional Red Cross was in Joplin and ready to help. Now, eleven months later, the agency has set up the Joplin Long Term Recovery Center. At the center, workers help those affected by the tornado with everything from housing to health issues. Nigel Holderby is the Chief Communications Officer for the Ozarks Regional Red Cross.

“By these individuals coming in to the long term recovery center and sitting down with a case worker, we’re  really just talking to them about what their needs are currently and how we can best facilitate with other partner agencies those needs that need to be met.”

The center has 2,000 active cases, and Holderby says the staff won’t close a case until they’re sure all of the individuals needs are met.

“The Red Cross, as part of long –term recovery, is there until 100% of all these needs are met. We’re not walking off the job at any time. We’ve not given an end date to any of this, and we’ll be there until the need is no longer there.”

Even with many cases still open, Holderby says there has been plenty of progress. After the tornado, over 500 families were living in FEMA trailers, and now that number is below 300. Driving through Joplin just one week ago, Holderby was overwhelmed by what a difference a year can make.

“Where there was nothing, the houses are starting to come back. And it’s just an exciting time to see that Joplin is not…it’s not gone because of something so tragic.”

Holderby recommends that anyone who wants to volunteer contact the city of Joplin to connect with an organization needing help.

Anyone affected by the tornado who still needs assistance should contact the Red Cross disaster case management team at 625-9192. For KSMU News, I’m Melanie Foehrweiser.