Rebuilding in Joplin Goes On

As victims of April 4 tornadoes in north Texas clear debris and await federal assistance, new homes are rising in Joplin, Mo.

Some residents in communities in three north Texas counties –- Dallas, Tarrant, and Kaufman counties -– continued to clear debris and gather belongings on April 6, two days after 14 confirmed tornadoes caused widespread damage in the cities of Lancaster, Arlington, and Forney. At least 300 homes in Arlington alone were damaged or destroyed. Texas Gov. Rick Perry toured some of the affected areas and expressed hope for fast federal assistance.

The continuing effort to rebuild sections of Joplin, Mo., from the more severe destruction inflicted by a EF-5 tornado on May 22, 2011, shows how long the recovery can be. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon launched the 2012 Governor's Joplin Habitat Challenge on Feb. 3, and volunteers and donations are still being sought. The challenge is to build 35 new homes in the center of Joplin with Joplin Habitat for Humanity this year. More than 7,700 households were damaged or destroyed by the May 2011 tornado.

A $3.6 million federal Community Development Block Grant supports the project, as do all of the state's professional teams (Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Blues) and the University of Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Speedway in partnership with NASCAR Unites. The 35 homes will be built in seven neighborhoods, with each of the seven participating athletic organizations sponsoring one of them and players, coaches, alumni, broadcasters, and front-office state visiting the neighborhoods to work along with volunteers and professional builders.

President Obama and Gov. Nixon are scheduled to speak May 21 at the Joplin High School graduation ceremonies.

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