Right now people are remembering the terrifying storm that ripped through Joplin, Mo one year ago Monday. 161 people were killed from a giant tornado. That EF 5 twister changed thousands of lives. Many say it looked like a bomb went off after the storm, leaving in its path close to $3-billion in damage.
Merely days after the tornado, hundreds of thousands of volunteers descended on the city to help rebuild. Meanwhile, people all over the world sent in donations to help put the community back together.
Groups in the Valley and across the state answered the call for help, and members of our community continue to give back even now.
"We're there,” said Capt. Duane Burleigh, with Harrisonburg Salvation Army. “We go to all disasters. Most people drive away from them. We drive to them."
The Salvation Army Corp in Harrisonburg was stationed in Tuscaloosa, Al at the time of the Joplin tornado but Capt Burleigh said they still made an initial impact.
"Our important part was fundraising. We had a lot of generous people here in the community who donated cash, so we were able to transfer those funds right directly to Joplin, to what they needed specifically at that time."
The loss of material possessions was not the only thing to worry about after the natural disaster. Emotional support was also critical.
Bob and Peggy Roach are part of Childrens Disaster Services. They traveled to Joplin from Fenix, Va to help out.
"The children are just kind of left in the lurch,” said Peggy. “So we fill in that space. We give them laps to sit on, ears to listen, and ways to express how they feel with paint, and with Play-Doh, and with time for someone who will actually listen to them."
That massive tornado not only left a massive path of physical destruction, it took away the sense of safety for thousands of kids.
"When the air conditioner in the shelter would come on, it would make a roaring sound. And when we first got there the children would just grab hold of you," said Bob.
Even after people, like the Peggy and Bob, are gone, the job is not done.
"As people start to put their lives back together, we supplied clean up kits,” said Capt. Burleigh. “Now doing social service work, where we arrange so that maybe they can get some furniture, maybe some other things they need as they progress towards becoming back to normal."
The local community continues to support the city in Missouri to rebuild.
"We're there not just for the immediate need, like I said, we're still in Joplin. We're still in Tuscaloosa. As long as there's a need, we'll be there to supply what those folks need and I'm just glad to be a part of it."
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