Joplin Tornado May 22, 2011

Five years ago, a catastrophic tornado ravaged Joplin, Mo. 7,500 homes were leveled, 500 businesses were reduced to rubble, and 161 people lost their lives in a matter of minutes. As residents were still reeling from what had just occurred, The Salvation Army was already on-scene, right in the middle of tornado stricken area, offering their services. A short time later, the Emergency Disaster Services team from our neighbors in Oklahoma City joined our efforts, navigating the remains of Joplin and offering food, water, and hope to those who – just a short time prior – lost everything they held dear.

We are thankful for the many volunteers and donors who joined with The Salvation Army and came to the aid of survivors without a moment’s thought.  Donations from all over the country poured in mounting to 6.8 million dollars* to help the people of Joplin pick up the pieces, rebuild, and start anew.

In the initial days after the Joplin tornado, The Salvation Army fed up to 10,000 people each day, distributed nearly half a million clothing items, provided clean drinking water to those in need, and ministered to victims and survivors amongst the rubble of their homes and businesses.

“When the storm first hit, The Salvation Army was the very first organization to step up and reach out to us to partner in this effort,” said Shane Dickerson, Market Manager for Sam’s Club of Missouri and Kansas on Tuesday. “Their very first request was for gloves, and we cleaned out every glove we could find from our existing stock.”  The partnership with Sam’s Club led to The Salvation Army being a key distribution partner for Walmart stores during the relief response. “Ever since the first tornado struck a Walmart store in Marion, Indiana, we decided we’d always be ready to respond, to send in clean water, to help how we can,” said Don Soderquist, retired Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice Chairman of Wal-Mart, Inc. at a restoration celebration held at Sam’s Club. “Remember to thank The Salvation Army for their work here in Joplin. They’re always there.”  

The success of those first days were in large part due to strategic partnerships with organizations that provided supplies to The Salvation Army that could be distributed or put to immediate good.  Other organizations such as Express Scripts and Conway Trucking and countless others stepped up in the days after the storm, to gather and send food items, clothing items, clean water and more for The Salvation Army to distribute to those in need.  At the time, Lieutenant Curry summed up the power of partnership simply, “Without you and our volunteers, we are just a miniscule army. With your partnership, we are able to do more and to do it better.”

“We have the benefit of seeing first-hand how God can work, even in a disaster. There are success stories that come through our doors each day, and when these individuals get helped, it renews their desire to help others,” added Lt. Curry.

The Salvation Army is committed to rebuilding Joplin for the long-term. And that required a more permanent sustainable partnership to see it though. We are thankful for the partnership we developed with The Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which has a very strong, accomplished management team with a demonstrated track record of success and service in the region.  The management team is made of volunteers from Joplin.  This is so the team understands our community needs and is able to direct those funds to the appropriate organizations.  We are also thankful for the homes that we have been able to financially support in building through Habitat for Humanity.    We recognize the importance of creating safe and secure homes and providing good, quality housing that will be instrumental in rebuilding the neighborhoods and communities in Joplin.

The Salvation Army has been at work in Joplin for 127 years and remains committed to doing the most good for our community.  We wish to reassure donors that 100 percent of donations given for the Joplin tornado will be used directly and solely for that purpose. Every penny of those donations that has been spent, and every penny yet to be spent, will go to direct relief for survivors of the Joplin tornado.

The grant monies given to Habitat for Humanity, from the Tornado Funds, helped to complete the following projects:
· Construction of “7” homes completed in February 2016
· Construction of 27 tornado shelters completed in 2015
· Repair and remodeling of homes as part of A Brush of Kindness program completed in December 2015
· Homeowner assistance to support maintenance and ownership from the HELP program

The grant monies given to the Community Foundation of the Ozarks/Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri resulted in the following projects:
· Project Hope counseling at Joplin R-VIII school district
· Housing construction and rehab for Rebuild Joplin
· Home repairs by Catholic Charities of Southwest Missouri
· Reconstruction of the Leffen Center for Autism
· Circles counseling program by the United Way of Southwest Missouri
· Food for families in need by Crosslines
· Food and program support for children in the Joplin Family YMCA
· Housing repairs by Hearts and Hammers
· Long range community planning by Side by Side
· Construction of a new medical school by Joplin Med School Alliance

The Salvation Army Midland Division continues to assist survivors of the Joplin tornado today. Roughly $1.4 million in funds remain to be distributed. These funds are to be allocated to several planned projects, including:
· Continued funding of  “5” Habitat for Humanity projects
· Continued financial support for the efforts of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks/Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri
· Additional social services case work to meet basic needs of tornado survivors
· Increased funding for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program, which uses intensive case work to help families break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
· The construction of a facility to house The Salvation Army’s current Emergency Disaster Services equipment and supplies, and to expand capacity for Joplin and the four-state region 

The Salvation Army Joplin Family Store was initially completed just days before the May 2011 Tornado hit Joplin. While the Family Store was a total loss, it was rebuilt using insurance money and a mortgage, not monetary donations intended for Joplin tornado survivors. The Family Store mortgage will be paid by revenue from the thrift store.


*The total funds spent include an initial grant from The Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Headquarters, located in Hoffman Estates, IL. In total, The Salvation Army will have spent more money than was raised for efforts in Joplin.