Rebuilding Joplin: Photos of Devastation and Moving Forward

Joplin Woman Cleaning With Truck

As I’m sure most of you know, on the evening of May 22 a tornado moved through Joplin, MO creating widespread devastation and killing 153 people (as of the writing of this post), making it one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history.  Nearly three weeks after the tornado, we went to Joplin to work with Rebuild Joplin in an effort to document not only the devastation, but also the tremendous outpouring of compassion as Joplin begins to rebuild and move forward.

As you look through this post, please click any of the photos to visit the Rebuild Joplin website, where you’ll be able to find more information on the rebuilding efforts and donate if you’re so inclined.

The Need in Joplin

When we arrived in Joplin nearly three weeks after the disaster, it was immediately evident there is still a great need for help.

Joplin School Tornado Damage

Joplin Tornado Damage Neighborhood

Joplin Tornado Damage

Rebuilding Joplin

Despite the enormity of the task at hand, the outpouring of love and support is palpable as you walk throughout the streets of Joplin.  Below is a sample of some of the volunteer efforts happening in Joplin.

Joplin Volunteers Cleaning

Joplin Volunteer Group

Joplin Man with Chainsaw and Hospital in Background

Survivors Helping Others

Joplin Men and Tow Truck

Both of these men described how fortunate they are to be alive after the tornado.  Both live in the surrounding area and were in buildings that were destroyed by the storm.

“We took four days to recover and deal with our personal stuff,” they told me.  “Then we came out here to work.”  The men were in the process of pulling a car out of the wreckage of a house and preparing to take it to a local parking lot for insurance adjusters to survey.  They’re working up to 17 hours a day.

Both men explained that despite their hard work, there is much work left to do.

“It’s better when we’re working,” one of the men offered.  “When I close my eyes, I see what happened.  It’s better when my mind’s busy.”

“They Just Showed Up”

Joplin House Clean Up

I met the man above as he cleaned up the remnants of his son’s home.  When I asked him about all of the young folks that were helping out, he paused.

“They are all from a church not far away,” he explained.  I asked how he got in touch with the church to arrange for them to send the group.

“I didn’t,” he said.  “I came out here and was cleaning up by myself.  They just showed up.  I’m so thankful they did.”

How You Can Help

Despite all of the volunteerism in Joplin right now, there is still a great need for further help.  Instead of just showing up, it’s much better to coordinate with folks in Joplin prior to your arrival.  If you’d like to get involved and donate either time or money to rebuilding Joplin, here are a few resources that may be helpful:

For more photos of the current situation in Joplin, please visit the photos on our Facebook Page.

Joplin House With Inspirational Message