To provide a comprehensive resource center to Help communities Organize after and Prepare for Emergencies (HOPE).
The Joplin tornado (May 22, 2011) stands as a unique disaster. Damages estimated at nearly $3B make it the costliest tornado in U.S. history. Our 161 deaths rank it as the seventh deadliest tornado in history. It is one of only three disasters studied by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (the other two were the 9-11 attack and the 2018 Puerto Rico hurricane). The impact, response and our remarkable recovery continue to be studied today.
Joplin’s post-tornado efforts have been identified as ‘best practices’ in multiple areas and are the subject of research that has benefitted many other communities. Those practices include:
- Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) - a model for whole-community recovery
- Long-Term Recovery Committee approach to humanitarian efforts.
- Volunteer management that saved Joplin $17M in federal matching grants.
- Critical infrastructure rebuilds - schools, hospitals and businesses.
- Coordinated housing strategy that resulted in no population loss.
- Stabilization of the community’s emotional/mental health needs.
- Animal rescue and sheltering.
Data and records that tell our story become more difficult to find as time passes. Some are available to the public from varied sources, but other valuable information is only on paper and not accessible for research and study. A board was formed in September 2018 to pursue archiving the knowledge gained from the tornado.
That board committed to gathering, cataloging and housing these records at Missouri Southern State University, building an accessible digital collection so the world might learn lessons from this historic event. The collection will include city of Joplin records as well as information from nearby municipalities that partnered in the recovery. Missouri Southern State University, the Joplin School District, Mercy Hospital Joplin (St. John’s Regional Medical Center) and Freeman Health System have information from their perspectives. The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will contribute the story of business recovery. The Citizens Advisory Recovery Team and the Long-Term Recovery Committee have best practices, minutes and documents related to their operations. The collection will house local and national media reports including those of The Joplin Globe, television and radio stations and studies published in professional journals on topics as varied as infrastructure, disaster management, community resilience, mental health, school leadership, medical response, and more.
The site will provide comprehensive information in one location for researchers and communities. No other site will offer the breadth of materials to help communities benefit from the lessons learned in Joplin. We are actively moving this project forward to present our efforts on the 10th anniversary of the Joplin Tornado — May 22, 2021.
Advisory Board Members
- Stephanie Brady, Joplin Area Long-Term Recovery Committee Co-chair
- Jane Cage, Citizen Advisory Recovery Team Chair
- Brad Hodson, Missouri Southern State University
- Lynn Onstot, City of Joplin
- Andy Ostmeyer, Joplin Globe
- Kerry Sachetta, Joplin Schools
- Patrick Tuttle, Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Renee White, Joplin Area Long-Term Recovery Committee Co-chair