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Joplin

One month ago, a deadly F5 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO. This fierce tornado was the 7th most deadly in U.S. history and the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1953.

It's been seven weeks since we arrived in Joplin to set up disaster relief efforts, and yet we still see new faces and register new volunteers. Last week, we were introduced to a few of the volunteers from across the country, and asked them what inspires them to join us.

Volunteers motivate and inspire us. In the weeks following the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, MO, we've received an outpouring of volunteers from various states and countries.

Pulling up to the home of Joplin resident Linda Smith, Kari Shields, an AmeriCorps NCCC member with the Southern region, was overcome with emotion. Shield’s team had already visited homes affected by the tornado that day, but they had only needed minor support such as tarps installed on roofs.

On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado struck my hometown of Joplin, Missouri. Nearly every resident was affected. The tornado destroyed approximately 18,000 vehicles, 7,000 homes, 5,000 businesses, and took the lives of 162 people, including two of my high school classmates.

In the wake of the nation’s deadliest tornado in six decades, more than 80 AmeriCorps members are working night and day to assist first responders and victims in the recovery efforts in Joplin, MO.

With the death toll at 126, more than 700 people injured, and thousands of structures destroyed, the EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin last Sunday flattened everything in its path, leaving residents to scramble to find missing family members and find immediate shelter.

At 2:00 AM, on May 23rd, just eight hours after a deadly EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, MO, the AmeriCorps St. Louis Emergency Response Team arrived in a community devastated by the latest in a string of natural disasters.

New Orleans knows a lot about service. The city has a rich history steeped in volunteerism and national service. They also know, perhaps more than any other U.S. City, that service plays a critical role in transforming a place that suffered unimaginable destruction.

After Hurricane Katrina, the city once known for its lively and colorful neighborhoods, personalities, and culture was left shaken – swimming in floodwater and debris. At that point, it was hard to imagine that the city would ever return to its once vibrant self. Yet, just six years later, New Orleans has been reborn.

At a press conference last Tuesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had this to say about the AmeriCorps members serving in the Joplin area: “I pushed more volunteers your way than maybe I should have. But I had the understanding that I could trust your operation. It appears I was right.”

No matter where disaster strikes, National Service is there. Our AmeriCorps members have been on the ground in Joplin since the F5 tornado touched down on May 22nd.

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