By: Greg TuckerJust hours after a deadly EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO, in May 2011, AmeriCorps members began arriving to help with the recovery efforts. Now Missouri state officials are recognizing the national service volunteers who came to the city’s aid after the devastating storm.A unanimous Missouri House of Representatives resolution commends the more than 300 AmeriCorps members who converged on Joplin and provided an immediate and ongoing response to the tornado that killed 161 residents and destroyed more than 7,000 homes, churches, schools, and businesses.A RAPID AND CONTINUING RESPONSEAmeriCorps members serving in Joplin came from 20 organizations and seven states to provide vital services and mobilize more than 60,000 volunteers who assisted in the recovery. City officials estimate that AmeriCorps managed and supported volunteers who provided more than 579,000 hours of service, totaling more than $17.7 million of donated resources.The first members from AmeriCorps St. Louis and AmeriCorps NCCC arrived in Joplin hours after the tornado and immediately began working with local authorities to assist in search and rescue, and establish a missing persons hotline. During the past seven months, AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) deployed more than 200 members who provided 49,000 hours of service, gutted or mucked 725 homes, and served more than 20,000 meals.“In a time of great need, AmeriCorps members rushed to the scene and have stayed for the long haul, providing vital hope and help to the people of Joplin,” said Robert Velasco, Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, AmeriCorps parent federal agency. “Our commitment to the people of Joplin will continue through the work of additional AmeriCorps members who will serve over the coming year.”AmeriCorps NCCC has committed to bringing more than 30 AmeriCorps members to serve in Joplin during the coming year, including:
- Eight additional full-time members serving with AmeriCorps St. Louis, the primary coordinators of the massive volunteer response, supported through a new AmeriCorps grant from the Missouri Community Service Commission;
- Eighteen full-time AmeriCorps VISTAs serving in conjunction with the PAVE Eldon Schools - Joplin Schools Bright Futures program and other area non-profits, who will implement and expand programming to improve the health, academic performance, and well-being of children and families in the Joplin area;
- One or two AmeriCorps NCCC teams of 8-12 members each that will be deployed through July 2012 to bring hands-on assistance to ongoing recovery operations.
The House resolution recognized over 20 AmeriCorps programs for their key role in Joplin recovery efforts. Since 1994 AmeriCorps has provided critical support to millions of Americans affected by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, terror attacks, and other natural and man-disasters, and is a vital resource in America’s emergency management infrastructure.