In May 2011 an F5 tornado tore through the center of Joplin, a small picturesque city of 50,000 people in Southwest Missouri. In 12 minutes, an area 8 miles long and 2 miles wide had been scraped to dirt. In 12 minutes 25% of the city's residents had lost everything. 8,000 homes gone. 13,000 cars destroyed. Countless people dead or missing.
The Crotty's have friends in Joplin – Jane Cage and Larry Hedin and their families - people we have known and worked with for almost 20 years. As the extent of the tornado reached the media in the minutes following the storm, we feared for their lives. Our relief that they were safe was soon replaced with a grim realization of the magnitude of the carnage that had been left to the staggered residents to face.
The city and its residents responded the only way they could – by attacking the problem and battling, tirelessly, day by day. Setting up field hospitals (one of two main hospitals was completely destroyed), administering medical attention, providing food and water, scrambling to setup temporary shelters, searching for missing people, recovering bodies, and removing debris occupied the initial weeks of effort.
The biggest problem facing the city has been the destruction of housing and displaced residents. The extent of the loss cannot be described. I went to Joplin in March, 10 months after the storm, and was absolutely staggered by the magnitude of the loss and damage. What had been the middle of town was simply empty. Gone. Imagine for a moment a good portion of the town you live in reduced to a vacant dirt lot. All trees, structures, street lights, landmarks ….gone. Where there were historic tree lined streets, there is dirt. Where there were parks and open space areas, there is dirt. Where there were thousands of houses, there is dirt. Schools, hospitals, stores…dirt.
Our friends, and the residents of Joplin, are a feisty bunch. One of those people, Jane Cage, has been a friend and client of mine for almost 20 years. She has assumed the leadership role on the Citizens Advisory Rebuilding Team (CART) and has taken ownership for organizing and driving the reconstruction of a city. She does it in her spare time while running a company and without compensation. She does it because she loves her town and wants it restored in her lifetime. Facing massive challenges of every imaginable variety, Jane put one foot in front of the other and began an undertaking that would test the endurance, problem solving skills and resolve of everyone involved.
Jane is faced with trying to implement a plan to rebuild and replace all of the housing that was lost, giving residents a place to return. Some of those residents are able to re-build without assistance – insurance money has given them the means to replace their homes if they choose. Many residents simply cannot afford to rebuild and are living in temporary housing.
It is this problem we are trying to help solve.
The Crotty family is trying to make a small difference and help our friend Jane. Jane's company in Joplin has taken on the responsibility to sponsor 2 Habitat for Humanity home builds – to cover costs and provide labor. My company, NetEnrich, is donating $20K to Habitat for Humanity Joplin to assist in the cost of a home rebuild. The Crotty family is trying to raise an additional $5K through grassroots fundraising to add to that total. A partner company to NetEnrich is also donating $30K to the effort so we will have almost enough to cover a single Habitat home build - $60K.
My son Connor and I will be traveling to Joplin for 5 days in June to assist in the construction of the home we are sponsoring. Volunteers from around the country will be going to Joplin to participate in similar activities through spring and summer. Every dollar, every hour, every hand counts.
If this story has caught your attention or you are looking for a cause to contribute to this summer, please consider sponsoring our trip and our efforts to replace a little of what has been lost. Joplin is fighting hard but needs so much help from friends and strangers alike to reclaim their town. As Jane states, it is the humbling generosity of complete strangers that usually makes the difference when tragedy strikes. Most of you don't know anyone in Joplin, so allow us to be your ambassadors and together we can do good things.
Connor and I will be traveling to Joplin, Missouri in mid-June to help with rebuilding efforts in the wake of last year's devastating tornado and capturing and telling our story as we journey to Joplin on Facebook and YouTube.
Do good things here: http://www.crowdrise.com/crottyjoplin/fundraiser/justincrotty All donations go directly to Habitat for Humanity Joplin. We appreciate your consideration and your support.
To understand more about the tornado that hit Joplin visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Joplin_tornado
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity Joplin Area visit: http://joplinhabitat.org/
To learn more about Joplin's efforts to rebuild and Jane Cage visit: http://joplinareacart.com/
The Crotty Family