Sunday, December 18, 2011

Joplin, MO Six Months Later

I was in Joplin the morning after the F5 tornado struck. As the sun rose that Monday morning it shed light on unimaginable destruction.

Earlier this month, some six months later, I was asked by Popular Science Magazine to return to Joplin and take a photograph of the same location as the photo above. That photograph will appear, along with the photo above, in the February issue of Popular Science. During my visit I spent some time driving around Joplin and taking other photographs of the area.

These photographs show the long road to recovery which lay ahead for the community. I'm not sure if I had unreasonable expectations of the progress that could be made in six months or if the progress is as slow as it seems. I would guess there is quite a bit of red tape that blocks the path to rebuilding. It is easy to say "I will rebuild" during the emotional aftermath of a tragedy like this. It is another thing to actually rebuild.

I searched for real estate in Joplin while there and found scattered listings for lots where houses once stood. I took these listings as a clue that some had moved on. Rather they moved elsewhere in the community or simply moved away I don't know. I did find it interesting that Walmart had rebuilt and was open for business. Home Depot had rebuilt, but was still operating out of a temporary structure in the parking lot. Businesses like Taco Bell, which were near the heart of the swath of destruction, look much like they did in the moments after the tornado struck.

There were clear signs of both repairing and rebuilding scattered throughout Joplin. Among these efforts stood remnants of houses and businesses. ABC's Extreme Home Makeover have built seven new homes, which they built in seven days, referred to as the "Seven in Seven Days". These houses each have a distinctive style and beautiful landscaping. They sit among a contrast of cleared lots and ruins with a view of the heavily damaged St. Johns Mercy Hospital.

Below is a selection of my photographs from Joplin taken earlier this month.

I cannot imagine the effort it takes to restore your life after an event like this. I wish all the best to those in Joplin while they rebuild their homes and businesses.