JOPLIN, Mo.-- Born and raised in Joplin, I've spent most of my life in this city. After graduating high school in 2010 and moving to Columbia for college, it's been a sobering experience watching Joplin go through the tragedy that was the May 22nd tornado.
But, in taking a step back and looking at the city a year later, my situation has given me a new perspective on Joplin's recovery process. Because I live elsewhere nine months out of the year, the strides Joplin has taken seem even more remarkable. During my first few days back home, I was shocked at the number of new buildings and restaurants that have been erected on Range Line and Main Street. The new Cunningham Park is a beautiful testament to Joplin's ability to look to the future while also being able to recognize the traumas of the past. And, although sparse, new homes are being constructed every week.
I can imagine that many Joplin citizens may be jaded by the recovery process; although many new buildings and businesses have come about during the past year, much of the city is still barren and empty. It can be easy to focus on the negative aspects of the aftermath, and as Joplinites drive back and forth to work every day, the scenery can be depressing, despite the progress that has been made.
To me, however, in checking up on my hometown only on occasion, the development is striking. All of the destroyed structures, like the hospital and high school, are not solely somber reminders of the past; they also symbolize new beginnings. New schools and hospitals will soon be built, some already in construction. The city has absolutely, unequivocally progressed in the past year.
As people cope with the trauma of the twister, they also unite to make Joplin a better place.
This is what has impressed me the most from my community. I may no longer be a permanent resident, but
I'm proud to call Joplin home. It's good
to look back and remember; it's even better to look forward and have hope for the future.
One of the many examples of murals coming about in Joplin, this mural on 20th and Main provides inspiration for Joplin residents.
Dude's Doughnuts and Cupcakes by Liz sit next to each other on South Main Street. These are examples of two businesses that have rebuilt following the storm.
A new home is being erected on Joplin Street, with the shadow of St. John's hospital looming behind.
St. John's successor, Mercy Hospital, is currently being built near the I-44 entrance on South Main.
A painted trashcan in Cunningham Park represents the hope and resiliency of the Joplin community.
The new Cunningham Park harbors a tribute to the volunteers that gave their time in the months following the May 22nd tornado.
A new bench at Cunningham provides a view of the old St. John's, as well as a tranquil spot for park-goers to relax.
New homes, such as this one located just off 26th Street, arise every few weeks in the destruction zone. This house sits by itself with no neighbors nearby except for a lone American flag.
A trio of new buildings is being constructed on W. 20th Street.
Perhaps Joplin's most recognizable new mural, "The Butterfly Effect" is located on 15th and Main Street.