After the horrifying events of May 22, 2011?|Joplin and its residents have been trying to come to grips with the reality of what happened. My friends told me it took many people weeks or months for the shock of the powerful EF-5 tornado and the aftermath to set in.
??I could not go down there for at least two weeks. I couldn??t bring myself to do it. I was depressed for a little while after that,?? said Joplin resident Kate Inman.
??I love this house but returning home is like returning to the scene of the crime. This was where I was attacked. This is where I was brutalized,?? said Joplin resident Marian Kelly.
??You are in shock. You kept thinking ??This can??t be real. This can??t be real.?? You drive through town , and it was street after street where there was just nothing there,?? said Joplin resident Michelle Hill.
Despite the trauma and sadness of the tragedy?|residents where overwhelmed with the help from thousands of rescue workers and volunteers from all over the country and the world who went to Joplin in the city??s darkest hour, and the city is forever grateful.
??Businesses have been coming back and rebuilt. People are rebuilding their homes,?? Inman said. ??There has been a great amount of support that Joplin has received. It??s astonishing to me.??
??Some of them where from all over the country or other parts of Missouri who just showed up and wanted to do something,?? Kelly said.
??Just seeing everyone come together. People coming from all around to help and still to this day are still helping,?? Hill said.
In this past year since the powerful EF-5 tornado, Joplin has been trying to heal from the wounds. Across the city, people have been writing messages of hope and restoration on walls of buildings to show the world that the city is rebuilding and will be back stronger than ever.
Along with miles of new houses and businesses being built from scratch, the old St. John??s Regional Medical Center will be demolished. A new one, being renamed Mercy, is being built off of Interstate 44. Joplin High School moved its students to a new building in Northpark Mall in town as it plans to build a new school.
One year later, it??s a new beginning and chapter for Joplin. Along with a new spirit, the message of hope.
??I hope people have hope. People should have hope,?? Inman said.
??It will be better than it was, not just the same,?? Kelly said.
??You have to take what has happened and learn from it and grow from it,?? Hill said.
On November 22, 2011, the six month anniversary of the Joplin tornado, a memorial was unveiled at Cunningham Park on 26th Street with a fountain and a plaque with the names of the 161 victims lost on that day. I went there to pay my respects and shared a quiet moment of silence to remember Joplin and those who lived through that fateful day.
I stopped by my old church, St. Mary??s, and prayed near the cross which was the only thing left standing after the tornado. For many here?|it??s a powerful message of faith and hope.
I also wrote a message on the wall of hope before I left to let Joplin and its people know how this city will always have a very special place in my heart and that I know many sunny days are ahead and that this city will make a strong comeback and beat all odds.
God Bless you Joplin.
To see raw footage of Joplin tornado damage, click here.
To see the raw interview of Vanessa's friend Kate, click here.
To see the raw interview of Vanessa's friend Marian, click here.
To see the raw interview of Vanessa's friend Michelle, click here.
To see pictures of Joplin while Vanessa was living there before the tornado, click here.
To see more pictures of Vanessa's trip to Joplin after the tornado, click here.