A building effort that began in response to the devastating May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., has ended after a volunteer organization built and dedicated its 180th home.
Rebuild Joplin co-founder Jerrod Hogan said the project gave residents hope after the tornado destroyed a large swath of the city and killed 161 residents.
“We never thought that three-and-a-half years later we would be here knowing the power of what we could do together,” he said. “We’re proud because of the people brought together by this project because 180 homes is a big deal.”
Rebuild Joplin coordinated the work of more than 10,000 volunteers, who donated nearly 200,000 hours of work, The Joplin Globe reported.
“We realize in 2015 there is still tornado recovery work that needs to be done, but that need can be met by local organizations without the need of an independent tornado recovery organization,” Rebuild Joplin director Thomas Corley said before the home was dedicated Saturday, adding later, “we are at a place where the amount of manpower needed to run what’s left can be handled locally.”
For Mitch Mesker, the final Rebuild Joplin house meant having a home for the first time since May 22, 2011. It will be near the home that was leveled by the tornado. Metsker was able to buy that property with his insurance payment.
“This is comforting, it is a burden finally lifted off of my shoulders,” Metsker said. “Seeing how many people cried today who came from all walks of life, who were brought back together by something that gave us something to strive for, means that we can look to the future.”
Corley said tools, vehicles and other equipment the organization used in Joplin will be given to organizations looking to rebuild homes in the northeast United States that were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.