Volunteers Cancel on Rebuild Joplin But Charities say Need for Help Still Great

Volunteers Cancel on Rebuild Joplin But Charities say Need for Help Still Great
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The third anniversary of the Joplin tornado is marked by a dedication as a community that experienced tragedy looks back and forward.

This evening at Cunningham park, a dedication ceremony was held for the Butterfly Garden. It’s a collaborative work designed to help walk people through the grieving process.

And 3 years later many have. But when it comes to recovery, those involved in rebuilding homes say the job is far from finished.

Volunteers from Farmers Insurance come in teams of ten and stay for two weeks. This is the 16th group. Originally rebuild Joplin thought the Farmers group could take a break this summer while other volunteer groups did the work but there’s been a dramatic change.

Thomas Corley, the executive director of Rebuild Joplin says, “In the last 6 weeks Rebuild Joplin has had 250 volunteers cancel.”

So Rebuild Joplin is asking the Farmers Insurance group to keep coming throughout the summer and the rest of the year which they’ll do to help complete 43 home repair projects. And while the charity still needs financial donations, Corley says it’s the volunteers who are even more critical.

“It doesn’t matter how much money we have in the bank, if we don’t have the hands to build and put the drywall up and lay the shingles,” says Corley.

Many of Rebuild Joplin and Habitat for Humanity volunteers now are returning groups. But it’s those who might consider coming for the first time who are changing their minds.

Corley says, “Those are the ones that are tough to convince that there’s still work to do here. That they haven’t been here. All they hear is on the news or what other organizations have been saying and they can only assume that there’s nothing to do.” He says the Long Term Recovery Committee for example folded into the COAD which was expected but to some signaled recovery was finished and its not.

Madison Hoffpauir agrees saying, “There’s is a perception, that 3 years away, but we’re still working, doing good work, still working in the tornado zone.” Habitat for Humanity is working on eight homes right now.

Hoffpauir says, “We still have families applying for our homes applying for our program, that were affected by the tornado, displaced by the tornado. And we are still building homes for them.”

Andrea Minor with Catholic Charities says it has more than twenty active need cases. She says, “We have had people that have moved away and it didn’t work out where they went, and want to come home and need housing. We have people that have bought housing in the tornado zone that needs repaired and they don’t have the funds to repair it.”

Catholic Charities has built 15 homes and repaired more than 150. And like Rebuild Joplin, it has money from the Community Development Block Grants that the city was awarded to make more repairs. But Minor says volunteers help stretch grant dollars. And she says there’s a definite need for the volunteers.

Minor says, “We have seen a decline in our volunteers and with all the recent storms people will go to where the more current need is, but there is still need here.”

A CDBG project manager on staff with the city says there’s several funds including those for a down payment on a house in the tornado zone that storm victims can still tap so they haven’t missed the boat.

The city reports 90-percent of dwellings have been permitted but that doesn’t guarantee construction or repairs are completed.

And when you’re talking about ninety percent of thousands of homes destroyed by the tornado that means many still need attention.

A survey of the housing situation was just conducted by the CDBG project manager’s office and results should come out in a few weeks giving a clearer picture of the housing available and what still needs rebuilding.

A list of the various ways CDBG funds could be spent is on the city’s website. Click here for a link .