By Matthew Ticknor, financial consultant with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and Thrivent Builds Worldwide volunteer
One year and three months after one of the most destructive tornado disasters in United States’ history ripped through Joplin, Missouri, our Thrivent Builds Worldwide group traveled there to continue the rebuilding process.
I had been in Joplin with Thrivent Financial members and volunteers cleaning debris in the days immediately following the tornado, and the level of destruction was hard to comprehend. Over a year later, Joplin is still working to recover and rebuild. The good news is that thousands of volunteers have logged hundreds of thousands of hours. People do care.
Our recent Thrivent Builds Worldwide weekend started with an orientation dinner with families that were affected, several of whom would be purchasing the homes that we would be working on. I live just outside of Joplin and experienced some of the aftermath firsthand in the days following the storm. Hearing their personal stories brings it all back.
Friday morning, we got to work painting two side-by-side Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity houses. The Friday evening groundbreaking that was scheduled got postponed due to a rather large storm passing through the area. Winds and tornado sirens gave the group firsthand experience with the fear and uncertainty that Joplinites feel every time a storm passes through. Luckily, no one was hurt with this storm.
Our group felt that the resilience of the people of Joplin is an inspiration to the entire world. I have watched this community rebuild, and our group was honored to help.
Hundreds of families are still living in trailers and are unable to rebuild their homes. Our job is not done until all these families have decent housing. We will be back.