The complete story of the Joplin Tornado, from May 22, 2011, through the Day of Unity one year later is told in the book,Spirit of Hope: The Year After the Joplin Tornado by John Hacker and me, which is available for the first time in e-book format.
A breakdown of what is included in the book follows:
-Introduction by Mitch Randles, Joplin fire chief
-Spirit of Hope by Randy Turner, my introductory story
-John's introductory story
-One Year, One Community, One Direction: John's coverage of the Day of Unity
-I'm Proud of Joplin- The text of City Manager Mark Rohr's speech at the Day of Unity.
-God Was With Me- My story on the Joplin High School Graduation, focusing on graduate Sarah Kessler, who lost her house in the tornado, but never lost her faith
-St. John's Has Been Hit- Rebecca Williams tells the remarkable story of how Joplin Tornado Information, a lifeline for the people of Joplin and those who wanted up-to-date information, began.
-Waiting Out the Storm- Brennan Stebbins tells the story that went viral after the audio was posted on YouTube, recounting how he and his friends waited out the tornado in a cooler at Fastrip.
-Love Led Me Through- Andrea Thomas, whose story about dealing with the loss her home was featured in 5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornado, offers an uplifting follow-up on what has happened to her and her husband, Joe, and how she has been inspired to give back to the community.
-Pancakes, Prayers, and Progress- Former area newspaper reporter Rick Nichols tells the story of what happened at the International House of Pancakes during the tornado.
-The House of Bricks- My visit to the apartment complex behind the 15th Street Wal-Mart and my conversation with Pizza Hut hero Chris Lucas' father and sister.
-A Tale of Survival- Andrea Queen writes about how she and her family rode out the tornado.
-Ground Zero- Former Joplin Tri-State Business Editor Jeff Wells writes about his mother and grandmother, how they survived the tornado, and dealing with its aftermath.
Will There Be a Christmas Tree?- Former Joplin resident Marty Oetting writes about his chance discovery of a string of unclaimed Christmas lights after the tornado.
We Were All Affected- Joplin Tornado Information co-founder Rebecca Williams shares some of the stories that have been sent to the website.
This Town is My Home- One of the most memorable stories in 5:41 was Kaylea Hutson's portrait of Joplin High School student Laela Zaidi, who lost her home May 22. This time, Laela does the writing, filling us in on the year at JHS and how she never wanted for an instant to leave her home.
Peace in the Midst of the Storm and Miracles at Wal-Mart- In these two stories, Chris Robinson and Becky Kropf tell two versions of the tornado at Wal-Mart, complete with the miracle survival of a dog.
Local Radio's Finest Hour- In 5:41, I wrote about the job KZRG and Zimmer Radio did before, during, and after the tornado. This chapter is the text of a speech given by Gov. Jay Nixon to the Missouri Broadcasters Association praising Zimmer and its employees.
My Tornado Story- One of my favorite students at East Middle School last year, Jennifer Nguyen, tells her tornado story as the title suggests.
Pushed to the Breaking Point- Joplin emergency services director Keith Stammer talks about the tornado and what happened afterward in this story from John.
Miracle of the Spirit- The text of City Manager Mark Rohr's speech at the gathering at Cunningham Park a week after the tornado.
Sometimes Love is All You Have- The Gilbert family lost its house in the tornado, but it its bouncing back and part of the recovery, Amy Gilbert writes, is when her daughters took part in the annual Country Music Association Awards.
I'll Never Forget- Pittsburg State University student, and one of my favorite former South Middle School students, Amy Herron writes a moving essay about the tornado.
Medical Community Finds New Opportunities in Devastation- John's story about three hospitals finding a way to serve the public in the aftermath of the tornado.
An End and A Beginning- John's story about the change from St. John's to Mercy.
Autistic Children Benefit from Ozark Center- John writes about how Freeman's Ozark Center bounced back from May 22.
Mercy Joplin Opens Component Hospital- The fourth of John's hospital stories, this one relates the opening of the component hospital that will serve until construction of the new Mercy is completed.
We Will Have School- What was termed as a family gathering for Joplin Schools employees turned out to be much, much more as Superintendent C. J. Huff promises that school will start on time in this story I contributed.
Will Norton is With Us in Spirit- This is the article I wrote for Chapman Magazine at Chapman University where Will Norton had planned to attend in the fall of 2011. It tells the effect he had on a campus full of students who never had the chance to meet him and includes interviews with Chapman students and officials and a couple of Will's Joplin High School classmates.
I Want to Keep the Spotlight on Joplin- The text of Rush Limbaugh's Fourth of July speech at Cunningham Park
A Blessing in Disguise- John updates us on the work done by Samaritan's Purse.
We Will Not Be Kept Down- Another of my favorite former South Middle School students, newly-minted JHS graduate Mary Jean Miller, talks about the role the high school Key Club, a service organization, played in allowing students to contribute to the recovery.
These Are My Students; This is My School- Teachers have their down days and in this story, I write about my misgivings as I moved into a school in a warehouse.
School Begins Today in Joplin- The promise is kept and I write about the return of Joplin teachers and staff on Aug. 15.
The Toughest Town on God's Green Earth- The text of Gov. Jay Nixon's speech to Joplin School staff when they returned to duty.
An Opportunity to Move Forward Together- Superintendent C. J. Huff's speech to returning teachers and staff.
A Day of Miracles: Joplin Schools Start on Time- My article about the day the students returned to the Joplin Schools.
Back to the Country- One of my favorite former Diamond Middle School students, Gary Harrall, contributed the shortest story in 5:41, and he repeats the feat in Spirit of Hope, as he writes about leaving Joplin, returning to the country, and finding the love of his life (his new wife Kelley, one of my favorite former South students).
Nothing Stop Us- One of my favorite former East students, Denton Williams, who contributed a story to 5:41, writes about the strength of Joplin.
Tornado-Battered Joplin Honors Victims of Terrorist Attacks- John covers 9-11 in Joplin, including the visit of the flag from Ground Zero.
Anti-Muslim Sentiment Clouds Gift to Joplin Schools- Our community overcomes the initial resentment of a few people toward the gift the United Arab Emirates gave to the school district, enabling every high school student to have a laptop.
I'm Proud to be a Rising Joplin Eagle- JHS sophomore Micaela Tennis, (not one of my former students and that is my loss) leaves no doubt how she feels about being a part of this school and this community.
Six Months after the Joplin Tornado- John's coverage of the six-month anniversary
Come Home to Joplin- City Manager Mark Rohr's speech at the six-month anniversary
Cunningham Park History- John provides a background on the park that has played such a major role in the community since the tornado.
God Bless the People of Joplin- Rose Fogarty, who wrote a memorable story in 5:41 about coming to Joplin because of Will Norton, has stayed with us ever since and she writes about her remarkable St. Lou Crew.
Remembering the Forgotten School- I pay tribute to the destroyed school that no one ever talked about, the old South Middle School.
A Day in the Life of a Joplin Student- Another favorite South Middle School student, Karissa Dowell, offers another look at the fishbowl existence that ahe and other students at the mall high school had to go through.
Student to Student, Sharing Stories- John has a couple of stories about young people volunteering to help in Joplin over spring break.
A New Hope High School for Joplin- I write about the voters in the Joplin School District approving a $62 million bond issue to replace schools destroyed in the tornado.
A Seventh Grader's Gift That Keeps on Giving- Every one did their part to help the city and schools in Joplin in their time of need, including a seventh grader from New York who gave my students a lesson in public service.
Avenue of Hope- John attends services in the parking lot at Peace Lutheran Church one year after the church held outdoor services after its building was destroyed.
God Remains With Us in Joplin- Bill Pape, who was interim minister at Peace Lutheran Church last year, writes about that first outdoor service.
Thanks Be to This Ever-Present God- The text of pastor Kathy Redpath's sermon at last week's outdoor service at Peace Lutheran.
Rejoicing, Remembering, and Rebuilding- Laela Zaidi's thoughts after the Joplin High School Graduation
Tornado Teaches the True Meaning of School- My thoughts on the last day of my first year in our warehouse building at East.
Graduation speeches from Barack Obama and Jay Nixon
The book also includes the speeches made by President Obama, Gov. Nixon, and Rev. Aaron Brown at the May 29, 2011, memorial service at Missouri Southern State University, the final National Weather Service report on the tornado, the Center for Disease Control report on fungus attacking tornado victims and more.
The book also features dozens and dozens of photos.