Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Billy Long: The resilience of Joplin known throughout the nation
One year ago our friends and neighbors in Joplin witnessed the destructive force of Mother Nature when their community was devastated by an EF-5 tornado.
I was humbled by the outpouring of help offered by families in our district, in our state, and in our country. The eyes of the world were watching and we showed what it means to help your neighbors in their greatest time of need.
I saw the immediate aftermath of this disaster with my own eyes, and I know it is vital to get the right resources to the right people as quickly as possible, because lives depend on it. As Joplin’s representative in Congress, it was my job to make sure the federal government worked with local and state officials to provide disaster relief. As a neighbor, it was my job to help in any way I could, from setting up cots in aid stations with other volunteers to helping with search and rescue. Missouri is called the Show-Me State, and Missourians and Americans from across our great country showed the nation and the world the compassion and generosity of the American spirit. Over 120,000 volunteers poured into the Joplin area to offer their help and support, and some are still assisting with rebuilding efforts.
Before the life-changing event of May 22, 2011, Joplin was just a town in Missouri, but now its sense of community is known throughout the nation. While the Joplin community is still picking up the pieces from that fateful day, I know they have a bright future ahead. Though lives were lost and homes and businesses destroyed the one thing the tornado did not take is the sense of community that makes Joplin a welcoming place to live, work, and visit. Joplin is stronger despite this tragic event.
Even though we can’t explain why tragedy strikes, we can use what happened here to remind us of the good inside us all and to remind us that even though we lost a lot, we did not lose everything. Joplin has faced challenges that most communities will not ever experience, but the outpouring of support is also something any community would be fortunate enough to receive.