Volunteers help rebuild Joplin one year later

By: Megan Palera

Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the deadly and devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri.

It's been a long year of healing for the people and if you ask anyone in town, they'll tell you their progress would not have been possible without the help of so many volunteers.

There are two groups of volunteers, those who traveled far and wide and those who endured and lived through the EF5 tornado. For them, the image is still vivid, the scars still fresh and the devastation still very real.

May 22, 2011, a day that will forever mark the city of Joplin. An EF5 tornado had ripped through the town, flattening an entire third of it. 161 people killed, 7,000 homes, 18,000 vehicles, 39 churches and a major hospital, all gone.

As Cate Loch drives around town, she see the path of destruction as if completely unphased by it all. “I see the progress. I see what will be,” Loch says.

Loch, originally from Fairbury, has been hands on in the rebuilding process. Along with her other Nebraska friends, Angela Grantham, also a Fairbury native,  and Dr. Gabriel Cline, who used to live in Lincoln, Loch started a scrub drive that ended just three weeks ago. It collected more than 4,000 scrubs for the medical community.

Loch says, “In the process, I got to meet some remarkable people that went through things you don't go through I war-time.”

Dr. Cline, a child psychologist who drove in from Springfield after the twister hit, worked with the triage unit. Dr Cline says, “They wanted to get better and not wait for someone else to come help them. They started right away. That night, they started doing what they could do to get better.

Grantham, the wife of an Oncologist at St. John's Hospital, put herself to work in the emergency room.”It was complete chaos and the people were just in shock,” she said.

On this day, they're in a city park, rebuilt with a section designed entirely for the volunteers. Volunteers and hometown heroes like themselves. In the background, the ruins are still visible.

It's an overwhelming sight for any visitor, and a hard truth for those who live it every day. “Our reality has changed so much. Now you'll say, well I only lost my house and my car but I'm okay. Or I was buried for three hours and I'm okay,” said Loch.

Reality may have changed, but the city's sense of hope and pride has only gotten stronger. Tattered and torn flags still fly proudly. Piles of ruble are surrounded by words of encouragement. The steal beams of a cross, still standing tall.

It's been a year of healing for the people of Joplin, a city that may be down, but not out. “We can see where we were and just how far we've come in one year and hopefully we'll give the people that still need help, we'll give them hope,” said Grantham.