May 22—Never forget May 22, 2011, a day that forever changed this community.
Never forget the 161 people who lost their lives in the tornado, including those who died instantaneously and those who suffered with their injuries for days or weeks before passing. They were young and elderly and every age in between. They lived in Joplin, Duquesne and other surrounding towns. They were mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They are very dearly missed.
Never forget the immediate response that night from first responders and civilians who took on the role of first responder when it was needed. From the search and rescue teams that worked deep into the pitch-black night trying to find survivors. From the health care professionals who headed straight to work to take care of as many of the injured as they could. From the neighbors who helped neighbors, and the strangers who helped strangers.
Never forget the days that followed as donations poured in from across the world and volunteers flooded the streets, sweeping away debris and standing on sidewalks to ensure that everyone had a bottle of water and something to eat.
Never forget the months afterward, when the real hard work began. Long-term volunteers set up their headquarters in Joplin and helped clear rubble, find housing for the homeless, connect families with missing pets, distribute food and clothes to residents who had lost everything. The school district and city started the process of rebuilding.
Never forget the losses that this community endured, nor how we came together to support one another during recovery. We learned some hard lessons along the way, but we also figured out how to improve our city and recognize our loved ones.