Monday, May 22, 2023

Some thoughts on the 12th anniversary of the Joplin Tornado

When the 10th anniversary of the May 22, 2011 Joplin Tornado rolled around two years ago the national media used the same old suspects to tell the story.

We heard from Jane Cage, who headed CART (the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team), from Mark Rohr, the city manager at the time, former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff and the so-called tornado mayor Mike Woolston.

They played key roles in the tornado recovery, but as I spelled out in my book Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption and the Joplin Tornado, much of the recovery happened despite the efforts of these people (though some of them are still telling the story of how Joplin successfully recovered from the worst tornado to hit the U. S. in six decades.

If you are looking for heroes from the Joplin Tornado, look at the first responders or look at the volunteers, both from this area and from far away.

While you are at it, you might consider the teachers and students who had to adjust to makeshift buildings as they continued education in Joplin (and contrary to the legend that has spread ever since 2011, the superintendent's claim that his vow to start school on time inspired the city, there is not a single superintendent I know who wouldn't have found a way to begin school in August 2011).

How about the business owners, who lost their businesses in the tornado, and those who saw their homes left in shambles, but immediately started the rebuilding process and stayed in Joplin.

How about the media? KZRG and the Joplin Globe kept the public informed even though many of those who were doing the reporting had lost their homes or people they knew.

Our leaders did some good things in the months and years following the tornado, no doubt about it.

Their story has been told. Hopefully, the next time a major anniversary of the tornado occurs, the stories of those unsung heroes will be told.

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