I’m in Joplin, Missouri this week, leading up to the one-year anniversary of the EF-5 tornado that caused so much destruction on May 22, 2011. NOAA, our National Weather Service since 1870, ranks the Joplin Tornado at the top of its scale – the only stronger tornado is a theoretical rating, the EF-6, which is simply described as “inconceivable.”
In the midst of individual and charitable efforts to rebuild homes and businesses, parts of the City still look like “the day after.” I stood on Main Street south of the historic downtown area while taking this photo at right.
I’m in Joplin with one of our clients – Wallace Bajjali – a firm working with the City of Joplin to undertake a massive rebuilding process that will bring jobs, new business, new homes, and fresh hope to this classic American city.
The people of the Joplin area formed a Citizens Advisory Recovery Team (CART) last year that has created tremendous public agreement around the values and priorities of rebuilding the City. The CART held a rigorous RFP process in which Wallace Bajjali was chosen to be the recommended redevelopment partner for the City.
Recently, the Joplin City Council voted overwhelming to authorize the City to move forward with Wallace Bajjali. For much of this week, CEO David Wallace is meeting with Joplin citizens and leaders from morning til night. The one “protected” spot on his schedule is tomorrow’s Walk of Unity.
During the Walk of Unity, David and I will join Joplin Citizens and supporters from all over the world to walk the path of the tornado. We’ll pass homes and businesses that have been rebuilt, and empty lots that stand as eloquent reminders of the almost inconceivable power of the tornado.
Tomorrow’s Walk marks a turning point for Joplin. In remembering who they’ve lost, and what was lost, they’re also promising to go forward. Tomorrow isn’t just about what happened last year, it’s about unity and hope for the future.
We at MMI are honored to be a witness to the extraordinary resilience of our brothers and sisters in Joplin, and to play even a small part in the new Joplin being rebuilt.