Missouri Passages: On the Road to Recovery:Joplin

On the Road to Recovery: Joplin

Michele Hansford, Director of Powers Museum in Carthage-Vice-Chairman, Missouri Humanities Council


It has been a year since the towns of Joplin and Duquesne suffered an E F-5 tornado. I am in Joplin and Duquesne weekly and have noticed the amazing fast-paced recovery taking place; yet there is still a great deal of work to be done. The reconstruction of what was lost in Joplin and Duquesne – approximately one third of Joplin and 70 percent of Duquesne – is an enormous project, one that is still progressing. Some residents have replaced destroyed homes while others are just starting the rebuilding process.

In late May, the one-year anniversary was commemorated with nearly two weeks of observances http://joplintornadoanniversary.com/. Among the many events were the premiers of three documentaries and art exhibits, including those at the George A. Spiva Art Gallery http://www.spivaarts.org/exhibits/default.aspx . Joplin native and nationally known composer Dr. Hubert Bird held a musical concert titled, “A Vision of Hope: The Other Side of the Storm.” http://www.joplinglobe.com/topstories/x1640795660/-A-Vision-of-Hope-The-Other-Side-of-Storm-concert-a-brainchild-of-Joplin-native.

Sometimes it is the simple things that mean the most to those affected by the storm. Minister of music Thad Beeler of the First Baptist Church of Carthage is working on a project called “Lost Photos of Joplin” that helps connect precious lost photos with their owners.   Almost 35,000 photos have been recovered with over 10,000 returned to the tornado victims http://www.carthagepress.com/news/x2014915496/Church-cares-for-lost-memorabilia, The Powers Museum in Carthage has donated materials to the “Lost Photos” project. When the project coordinators asked me to visit their facility, I was extremely delighted. While reviewing the surname inventory, I found one photo described as “Anderson Seniors 1948.” I remembered that one of the two friends I had attended the anniversary events had attended Anderson High School in McDonald County. I made a call and was told that this was her senior class. “I have located your senior class photo and would like to return it to you,” I said. She replied, “Only me.” My friend did not know she had lost her only senior class photograph. This was just one example of a tiny miracle among many in the corner of Southwest Missouri.

Volunteers scan the photos and put them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lostphotosofjoplin and on Flickr’s sites http://joplinrescuedphotos.org/ . It is with great anticipation that families will find their photos at a public distribution event.

The photo notebooks will be on display for viewing in Joplin throughout July.

  • July 13 – Joplin Library, 3-6 pm
  • July 24-28, Powers museum, 10:30 am-4:30 pm

More dates and locations are pending.

Joplin Tornado documentaries:

“Joplin, Missouri: A Tornado Story” documentary directed by Chip Gubera Facebook trailer — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vWevllw-1Q

MSSU’s KGCS-TV Newsmakers program with Chip Gubera & Dr. Conrad Gubera on YouTube — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w1KbGZ1xpc

http://www.facebook.com/heartlanddocumentary ”Deadline in Disaster” featuring the Joplin Globe newspaper and its response to the tornado YouTube trailer —http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D37UI3N0Ek

The Missouri Humanities Council provided funds in 2011 to the Joplin Public Schools for replacement of library materials lost in the tornado. MHC also funded the printing of the Missouri Writer’s Guild’s Storm Country: The Anthology http://www.missouriwritersguild.org/  the proceeds of which went to funding books for Joplin schools. Storm Country is still available for purchase.

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