Joplin Tornado

The Soaring Heights Elementary gymnasium also serves as a safe room. It's one of seven functional safe rooms within Joplin Schools.
Scott Harvey / KSMU

Jeannie Paul was out of town at the time of the May 2011 Joplin tornado that destroyed her home in the east part of the city. Her residence along Dingle Drive has since been rebuilt. Paul, however, prefers the community safe room down the street in times of severe weather, which she experienced for the first time earlier this spring.

Scott Harvey / KSMU

Inside these wide hallways, lined with various lounge chairs and work stations, is an atmosphere not unlike that of many colleges. Perhaps you wouldn’t think of it as a temporary high school. But the concept, brought to life within three months after the deadly 2011 tornado in Joplin, has helped inspire the setting for what high school students will permanently call home this fall.

KSMU/Randy Stewart

RANDY: Just after 5:00pm on Sunday afternoon, May 22, 2011, the actors and crew of Stained Glass Theatre Joplin—formed in 1998 as an offshoot of the Stained Glass Theatre here in the Springfield/Ozark area—was just finishing their last performance of the play “I Remember Mama.”  The cast was taking their curtain calls and final bows.  Mary McWethy and her husband were working the show: she was in the cast, he was on the crew.

KSMU/Randy Stewart

RANDY: Jo Mueller is the Executive Director of the George A. Spiva Center for the Arts in downtown Joplin, the city’s principal visual-arts venue.  With its location on 3rd Street, it was well north of the devastation of the EF-5 tornado that flattened so much of Joplin on May 22, 2011.  But Jo, who is a working artist in media like clay, wire, and watercolor and ink, sustained heavy damage to her own home.  I had talked with her a few years ago, and recently she recounted for me what happened to her home—and a good portion of her artwork.

Donald Swanson / Edward Jones

Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O’Brian has an answer for those who might question the town’s business community ability to bounce back from the EF-5 tornado which struck Joplin Sunday May 22nd 2011, killing 161 persons and destroying or damaging thousands of homes and businesses.

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